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Sponsored by Nissei ASB
A Tale of Continued Growth
In Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, Nissei ASB Machine Co., Ltd. was founded in 1978 by Mr. Daiichi Aoki, focusing on the manufacture of machines and molds for PET container production. The unique, pioneering technology the company introduced to the market was their newly developed, 4-station one-step injection stretch blow molding method.
The process of injection stretch-blow molding Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) into extremely strong, lightweight and clear containers was developed during the 1970’s by DuPont. Initially, the main market was for carbonated soft drinks but due to the many advantages of PET over other molding materials it was not long before a wide range of food, beverages, cosmetics, household and personal care products began switching over to the new material and a quick glance at any supermarket shelf today shows how ubiquitous PET has become.
Simple commodity products such as soft drinks, water and edible oil are often molded in very high volumes by a process known as two-step molding. Nissei ASB on the other hand, continues to specialize with its pioneering 4-station one-step molding method that offers far greater versatility for diverse or niche designs as well as premium quality, highly technical and non-food containers.
As demand for ASB’s products grew throughout the 1990’s, so too did global competition which resulted in the decision to make the required expansion at a new overseas manufacturing unit just outside Mumbai in India. Substantial investment was required to build a world class factory, install the best CNC machine tools from around the world and train the staff to ensure absolutely no reduction in ASB’s reputation for Japanese high quality.
This decision was audacious, and some may have even felt, imprudent - however the results have proven the decision to be a stroke of genius. Not only did the new factory maintain ASB’s quality reputation, it provided a highly competitive cost advantage for the company and its customers, while enabling ASB to tap into the rapidly expanding Indian demand for PET containers. The introduction of a pool of young, talented managers, designers and engineers from a vastly different working culture has also served to strengthen the global character of the entire ASB group.
Figure 1 - Machine assembly at ASB's 3rd Indian factory expansion
Jump forward in time to today and the Indian PET container industry, especially for one-step molding is now totally dominated by ASB’s equipment - in an attempt to catch the wave that ASB timed to perfection in 1997, many key global players in the plastics industry have since recognized the positive influence of India as a key part of their global operations.
As of 2018, ASB’s Indian facility has expanded to more than four times the original floor area with the addition of two new factories in 2013 and 2018, with the former being 100% dedicated to mold design and manufacture.
Figure 2 - ASB's Chikumagawa factory in Saku City, Japan
To expand its global R&D facilities as well as domestic and East Asia manufacturing capacity, the Japanese manufacturing unit also saw a doubling in manufacturing floor space at the end of 2018 with the opening of its new Chikumagawa factory in Saku City.
Nissei ASB’s turnover already accounts for around 15% of world-wide sales in all PET container production and with this expansion plan resulting in a total of 70,000m2 of global floor space, the company now has the capacity to produce up to 1,500 full mold sets and up to 700 machines annually.
Figure 3 - Mold testing & customer training in ASB’s Atlanta TSC
Customer support to the North American market also saw a huge boost from 2017 with the relocation and expansion of its Atlanta based sales and service subsidiary into a fully-fledged Technical Support Center with the ability to supply regional customers with full training, plus mold testing, modification and engineering services including manufacture of spare mold parts using a range of CNC machine tools.
The Atlanta subsidiary is just one of a worldwide network of 16 sales and service subsidiaries with a further list of over 40 sales agents that completes global coverage and ensures that ASB customers in over 130 countries are never far from sales or technical support.
Beyond being just a machine and mold maker, ASB is continually promoting new patented container molding technologies and has been the pioneer of many now common features such as injected and inserted handles, pasteurizable PET jars, glass-like cosmetic containers and multi-layer molding.
Since the company produced its first molding machine over 40 years ago, the market has constantly put greater technical demands on packaging technology. Now, with growing pressures from social and mass media for a dramatic shift in the way we use plastics, the company has responded by developing its patented “Zero Cooling” molding technique to provide higher quality, lighter, yet ever stronger container from increasing quantities of recycled materials.
Today, Mr. Daiichi Aoki still heads the company which, in a growing world of faceless corporations, remains as an independent organization that brings a sense of family to its staff and customers alike while remaining at the forefront of the container injection stretch blow molding industry.