NPK’S touch: As light as Sakura, as sharp as a Samurai swordPublished 10/7 at 13:18
Osaka-based NPK hardly needs any presentation. Arguably, the most expensive demolition attachment brand in the world, it is nonetheless one of the most sought-after. This April past Andrei Bushmarin visited the original NPK facility located on a quiet sakura-lined street in Higashiōsaka (East Osaka).
The demolition attachment business is not soft money. New players emerge almost every year heating up the competition and cooling down prices. New products and technologies are copied almost as soon as they hit the market. It takes a lot of creativity and stamina to stay market leader in a cutthroat environment like this, but NPK does it with ease and elegance.
The golden age
The Higashi-Osaka facility was built in 1965 originally to accommodate NPK's chemical engineering division. Chemical vessels and storage tanks were a core business for NPK when it originated in the early 20th century. It was not until some years later that pneumatic tools came into the picture. In 1970, the facility was expanded and renovated to incorporate the fast-growing construction equipment division.
As far as engineering creativity goes, the golden period was from 1970 to 1992 when manufacturing of attachments was relocated to Nabari. It was then that NPK designed many of its signature products, such as outsized hydraulic breakers and concrete crushers and shears featuring the now world-famous booster mechanism.
By 1992 demand for NPK tools outgrew Higashi-Osaka’s capacity. A bigger facility was needed so it was decided to move the construction department to Nabari in the Mie prefecture. This heralded a new chapter in Higashi-Osaka's history. Following the relocation, it took on a role of a multifunctional centre tackling a wide range of tasks.
To enhance the plant’s functionality, it was expanded in December 2016. A new 3,000m2 wing was added to provide space for additional office and equipment maintenance facilities. Now the 10,000m2 facility comprises two main areas. The larger part of 6,852m2 is used for production of pneumatic tools while the smaller one of 3,146m2 is allocated for a so-called Customer Service and Solution Center (CSSC).
Customer Service and Solution Center
The CSSC is used for customer consultations and dealer training sessions. Customized tools account for a sizable share in NPK's portfolio so in-depth consultations with users are an important part of the product development process. The centre’s other task is repairs of used attachments. Breakers, crushers and pulverisers in need of repair come from all over Japan. Until 1 April 2017 the facility was managed by Tadashi Saito who has 38 years’ service with NPK. Having joined the company straight from university in 1979, Saito is a perfect example of the time-honoured Japanese corporate culture, which values loyalty and dependability above all. This year he yielded his position to a younger colleague Masaaki Tsuchida who now manages Higashi-Osaka’s day-to-day operations.