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Furukawa Co., Ltd.

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Furukawa Co., Ltd.'s roots date back to 1875, but it was not officially established until 1918. Its long history stems from  Japan’s coal and copper mining and smelting industries. As the first company in Japan to produce a rock drill, it soon emerged as a leading manufacturer of mining and tunneling machinery. Today it is a top manufacturer of mainline rock drills and truck-mounted cranes. It also produces a full series of wheel loaders.

As one of Japan’s keiretsu, the company is also involved in wide cross section of other businesses that include real estate, chemical production, mineral production, smelting and mining, electronic materials and energy.


[edit] History

[edit] The “Japanese Mining King”

Before becoming one of Japan’s most prolific mining barons and industrialists, Ichibei Furukawa, the founder of the Furukawa empire, was involved in Japan’s silk trade. Ichibei worked for the Ono-Group in Kyoto. In 1874, the Ono Group went bankrupt and Furukawa attempted to operate his own silk trade enterprise but failed. When silk proved not to be profitable he turned to mining, operating a mine for the Somo family in the Tohoku region. In 1877 he purchased the Ashio Copper Mine at Asakura from the Japanese government. By 1885 the mine’s production piqued at 4,131 tons of copper annually—39 percent of Japan’s total copper output.[1]

By 1900 Furukawa owned 18 metal mines and four coal mines. In the same year he also built a machinery factory at the Ashio Copper Mine.[2] The factory was used to repair and assemble imported machines used at the mine. Eventually the company began to develop and produce its own mining equipment. One of the first machines developed by Furukawa was a rudimentary rock drill consisting of an air operated impact tool designed to replace hammer and chisel drilling.[3]

Ichibei's son took over the company upon his death in 1903. The private enterprise he had built was later restructured into a family-owned corporation referred to in Japanese as a zaibatsu.[4]

[edit] Corporate Restructuring

The Furukawa empire underwent further corporate restructuring in the years following Ichibei’s death. In 1911, it was reorganized into a general partnership company. In 1918 the company’s mining division, Furukawa Mining Co., was established to make the Metal Mining Division of the Furukawa General Partnership an independent operating entity. In 1920, the company expanded its business operations forming the Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. By 1941 the company had merged Furukawa General Partnership Company with Furukawa Mining Co. Ltd. renaming the entire enterprise as Furukawa Co., Ltd. Stocks of the company were offered to the public in 1942 ensuring the company was no longer run as a family-owned zaibatsu. The company also spun off its Machinery Division renaming it Ashio Manufacturing Co., Ltd.[5]

[edit] Market Expansion 

In 1944 Furukawa acquired the Osaka Smelting and Refining Co., Ltd to launch their chemical business. In 1950 it completed construction on the Takasaki Works. This was later supplemented with the purchase of a flash smelting technology from a Finish company in 1954. Furukawa also built flash smelting facilities at Ashio Smelting and Refining Co. Ltd. Further product expansion was attempted when the company engaged in petroleum sales starting in 1960. In 1962 the company developed its own small crawler loader. Today, it  still builds 30 to 200 series wheel loaders.[6] Furukawa permanently got out of the coal business in 1970 and three years later permanently shut-down the Ashio Copper Mine.  In 1986 it got into the business of building multi-story parking systems.[7]

[edit] Acquisitions

Furukawa acquired UNIC Corporation, a manufacturer of truck-mounted cranes in 1987. In 1989 the company changed its Japanese name from Furukawa Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha to Furukawa Kikai Kinzoku Kabushiki Kaisha. In 1990 it acquired an American breaker manufacturer.[8]

[edit] Expansion of Rock Drills

Starting in the 1990s Furukawa began to market its rock drill products overseas. The first breakthrough occurred in 1998 when the company established Furukawa Rock Drill Europe BV in The Netherlands. This was subsequently followed up with the establishment of another sales company for its rock drills in Korea in 2003 and a sales company in Shanghai in 2006.[9] Furukawa also currently sells its rock drill products in the USA. Furukawa Rock Drill USA is comprised of a Rock Drill Division and a Breaker/Attachment Division. The company specializes in producing attachments for skid steer loaders, mini excavators, backhoes and excavators. It also manufacturers a full product line of advanced rock drills used in construction and quarry sites.

In 2004 Furukawa also spun off its Metal Smelting & Refining Division to set up Furukawa Metal & Resources Co., Ltd. In the process the company transferred stocks of Hitachi Furukawa Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. and the land, buildings and others leased for the factory of that company to the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group.[10]

[edit] The Company Today

In March of 2005, Furukawa developed the Furukawa Company Group to serve as a holding company and reorganized its subsidiaries under a new corporate management structure. Three of the company’s subsidiaries were spun off: Machinery and Metals, Electronic Materials and Chemicals.

Furukawa now operates three distinct business segments under its Machinery division: Furukawa Industrial Machinery Systems Co., Ltd., Furukawa Rock Drill Co., Ltd. and Furukawa UNIC Corporation.

Under its Metal division the company operates the subsidiary Furukawa Metals & Resources Co., Ltd. Its third division, Electronic Materials and Chemicals is comprised of two companies: Furukawa Denshi Co., Ltd. and Furukawa Chemicals Co., Ltd.

The Real Estate and Energy divisions are still held by Furukawa Co., Ltd.[11]

Furukawa Industrial Machinery Systems Co. Ltd. produces and sells, what it refers to as, “environment-related products that contribute to environmental conservation and lessening the environmental load.” This includes multi-level car parking systems, pumps, and wear and resistant castings. The company is also engaged in the design and construction of steel bridges and equipment used in rock crushing and handling plants such as conveyors, screens, crushers, and feeders. Most production and development within the division occurs at the company’s Oyama Works and Tochigi Works plants.

The second company under Furukawa’s Machinery Division is Furukawa Rock Drill Co., Ltd. Established in 1961 Furukawa Rock Drill Co. Ltd. produces and sells a range of mining and tunneling equipment products: hydraulic breakers, hydraulic crushers, crawler drills, down-the-hole drills, tunnel machines, drilling jumbos, pneumatic tools, demolition crushers, a wood chipper and wood pulverizer and wheel loaders. Product development and manufacturing are carried out at the company’s Takasaki and Yoshii Works plants.

The third company included in the company’s Machinery division is UNIC Machinery, a manufacturer of truck-mounted cranes, mini crawler cranes and other loading machines.

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. Furukawa Ichibei. Book Rags. 08-10-2009.
  2. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  3. Company Information. Furukawa Rock Drill Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  4. About Furukawa Group.Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  5. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  6. Company Information. Furkawa Rock Drill Co., Ltd Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  7. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  8. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  9. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  10. Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.
  11. About Furukawa Group.Furukawa Co., Ltd. Official Corporate website. 08-10-2009.

[edit] External Links