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Business

Japan increases aircraft parts production

A model of the envisaged Boeing 777X

TOKYO -- Japanese manufacturers are raising production capacity of aircraft components for next-generation models from Boeing and Airbus.

     Nabtesco, Japan's leading computerized-equipment manufacturer, plans to enhance the production of its actuators, a tilt-angle and flight-altitude controller attached to the primary flights and tails of aircraft. The company will complete the construction of two production wings at its plant in Gifu Prefecture by next year. Work done at the plant will include surface finishing of metal parts and production of key components.

      The company has received orders of the control system for the Boeing 737 Max and 777X, small- and large-seized new-generation aircraft. The new facilities will double the production efficiency by introducing component assembly robots. The enhancement is expected to double monthly production capacity to 1,500 units by 2019.     

      Production of aircraft components can be a strength to a manufacturer, as it requires particular materials and high level of accuracy. Japanese makers have established their own quality control systems and production skills, which have propelled them to the forefront of the aircraft component industry in Asia.

      In addition, they have significantly contributed to the local economy and domestic job creation. Most production facilities are located in Japan.

Robotics revolution

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries have also decided to add new lines or facilities for producing fuselages for Boeing aircraft.

      Kawasaki Heavy is currently building a new facility in its Nagoya Works 1 site in Aichi Prefecture, where robots will play a major role in production. The bots will carry out tasks including punching and riveting fuselage panels that used to be done by manual labors. The new system will help achieve stable quality and allow the company to reduce the number of people it employs.

      According to the company's president Shigeru Murayama, the Japanese maker wants to gain an edge over competitors on costing, quality and delivery time. To achieve the goal, plant management focused on robots and data will play a key role. 

      Mitsubishi Heavy will introduce advanced production management technology at its Hiroshima facilities. The new system aims to maximize revenue by working out an optimal production schedule based on the data collected through parts and machines.

      Japan's heavy industry group IHI, meanwhile, plans to build new factory in Nagano Prefecture for fan blades used in Airbus' new small aircraft, the A320 Neo. The facility, with a several-billion-yen investment, is slated to start operations next year.

      Jamco, a Japanese supplier of aviation interiors, will spend 2.5 billion yen ($20.6 million) on the launch of production facilities capable of high-volume production for cabin lavatories and aircraft galleys. The new facilities in three locations, in Niigata Prefecture and Miyazaki Prefecture, will start operations as early as fiscal 2016 and supply both Boeing and Airbus.

(Nikkei)

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