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We have passed through the period of Naie's transformation from a coal-mining town to a town of precision industry.




Yoshihiro Minato President

Toshiya Yamaguchi Section Manager, Administration Section, Administration Division

Hokkaido Sumiden Precision Industries was founded in 1972 and commenced operation in 1980. The company has grown as a main factory to manufacture cemented carbide cutting tools "IGETALLOY" (indexable inserts) of the Sumitomo Electric Hardmetal Group.

Naie used to have facilities suitable for Sumitomo Coal Mining, and the coal mining business prospered as the town's main industry around 1960. However, the industry subsequently declined and the mine had to be closed. After the closure, Naie wanted to be redeveloped through industrialization, and the desire coincided with Sumitomo Electric's search for a production site for the Hardmetal Division. As a result, a cutting-edge factory to manufacture innovative precision machines was constructed, which was uncommon in Hokkaido. The climate of Hokkaido, which has stable humidity level throughout the year and no rainy season and which is therefore ideal for the manufacturing of powder alloy, was the decisive factor. We are proud that another Sumitomo company took over the presence in the town and offered jobs after the closure of the Sumitomo's coal mine. Almost all of the approximately 400 employees of our company as well as around 200 employees of the three companies in the same site are people living in the vicinity.

Our advanced production activities such as the early introduction of computer-based schedule management have developed us as a global production center of cemented carbide tools, with a network covering more than 10 countries. Our strength is the ability to produce equipment internally; we design, develop and adopt more compact equipment and more streamlined production processes independently, to enhance productivity and promote energy saving.

Initiatives in consideration of the local environment and people's life

While we ask visitors to separate out waste materials at the Shibazakura Festival, our company thoroughly implements waste separation and recycles more than 99% of waste. For example, food waste from the company cafeteria is degraded in the treatment facilities and applied as manure at the green area in the site. We will continue to actively promote such resource saving, recycling and energy saving activities based on ideas proposed by employees. The company also hires elderly workers dispatched by the local silver human resources center for light duties at our factories including maintenance of the green area and garbage collection. We thank those who affectionately take care of the moss pinks because the flowers would not thrive well every year without them.

Our company receives about 500 visitors including foreigners for factory tours in a year. We are very glad that they get to observe our world-class production system and also experience the great nature in Hokkaido and attractions of Naie.

Igetalloy is a registered trademark of Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

* Interviewed in May 2008.
* The company name has been changed to "Hokkaido Sumiden Precision Co., Ltd.

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