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Introduction of Group Companies
From Value One Spring 2014 No. 44
Our Strengths and Distinctive Qualities
Located next to Namura Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.'s yard, and meeting all of the shipbuilder's steel needs
Responsible for all stages of steel handling from inventory control to anti-corrosion processing such as shot blasting
Holds a bonded area permit and developed a unique automatic printing device
A Dedicated Steel Processing Base for Namura Shipbuilding

Located next to Namura Shipbuilding's Imari Shipyard & Works, Imari Steel Center Co., Ltd. was set up in 1973 through a joint investment by Mitsubishi Corporation, Nissho Iwai Corporation (today's Sojitz Corporation) and Namura. Responsible for handling all the preliminary steps the shipyard requires for shipbuilding steel (plates and shapes) from acceptance (unloading and sorting) to shot blasting, anti-corrosion painting, inventory management and delivery, Imari Steel Center supplies steel on a just-in-time basis in accordance with the shipyard's production schedule.

"Our company was established about forty years ago to process steel for Namura," says Kazunori Motomatsu, who became Imari's president in April 2013. "We would like to strengthen Namura's cost-competitiveness by renewing our awareness of and responsibility for our part of the shipbuilding process and enhancing the functions required of us."

To adapt to a boost in Namura's production capacity, for example, Imari added new lines for shot blasting and painting in 2010. The company has also taken further steps to reinforce its services, including the acquisition of a permit for bonded storage so that it can handle imported steel. Imari also developed a device that can automatically print with paint on steel according to its size and substance. The company acquired a patent for this innovative device, which can print on steel as it travels along the production line.

Imari Steel Center handled about 200,000 tonnes of steel in fiscal 2013. Though that is a bit below the company's peak volume, Imari is doing steady business interlocked with the solid performance of Namura, which is counted among "winners" in the shipbuilding industry.

Despite the so-called 2014 problem—which refers to an anticipated plunge in shipbuilding output in 2014—the environment is quickly improving for shipbuilding sales thanks to the "Abenomics"-induced reversal of the appreciating trend of the yen. President Motomatsu seems relieved by this change, saying: "The fear is diminishing. I hear Namura's order books are filled until the middle of 2016." Yet competition in the world market remains fierce, especially from China and South Korea, and that calls for further cutbacks on cost. President Motomatsu is urging the company to continue providing services that are more efficient and higher in quality.

Other Metal One Group service centers specializing in supplying shipyards include Kyushu Steel Center Co., Ltd. (in Nagasaki City) and Ariake Steel Center Co., Ltd. (in Nagasu Town, Kumamoto Prefecture), both in Kyushu. They and Imari are proactively teaming up to support Motomatsu in his first year as president. "Not only do we exchange information, but also we can talk about various kinds of technical information because some of our equipment items are of the same type," Motomatsu notes.

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