Metrohm Japan: The Human Factor is Key
Most of Metrohm Japan’s staff, around 40 people, work at the Tokyo head office. Just a few are stationed in other parts of the country, including the Osaka branch. The main office is located on the 8th floor of an office building in the Nihonbashi district at the heart of Tokyo.
Keisuke Ichiba, Product Manager for Titration, Voltammetry, and Stability Measurement at Metrohm Japan, tells me that, in Japan, selling equipment is all about the relationship with the customer. When we visited plating company Ebina Denka Kogyo in Tokyo, I could see what he meant by that. Ebina Denka has been a Metrohm customer for 14 years. Upon our arrival, we were given a truly special welcome: not only had our hosts put up a «Welcome, Metrohm» poster, but they had also raised a Swiss flag on the company grounds. It’s clear that Metrom Japan shares a special relationship with its customer, and Kenji Watanabe, Development Director at Ebina Denka Kogyo, confirmed to me that one of the reasons for sticking with Metrohm for so long has been the good relationship with the Metrohm Japan team.
The plating company’s products include, among others, parts for computers, for mobile phones and for high-end printers and photocopiers. But the portfolio at Ebina Denka Kogyo is highly dynamic. A few decades ago, products were water taps and the like. With cheaper competition arising from China and Taiwan, Ebina Denka Kogyo has had to specialize in more advanced technologies and has become a leader in high-tech plating. Plating of challenging surfaces like ceramics and plastics and plating of materials for medical use are just examples of research projects. Ebina Denka’s R&D efforts have also brought forward an antimicrobial plating that eliminates bacteria, fungi, and viruses in water and can be applied, for example, in water dispensers or coffee machines, air conditioners, and at medical facilities. The company’s R&D team has even worked together with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA to develop a plating that makes materials ultrablack, which is required for improved optical equipment.
From a titration setup bought in 2004 for surfactant titration to ion chromatography to the latest addition—an OMNIS system for two parallel titrations—the robustness of Metrohm instruments has proved them right in their decision to by our equipment again and again. «OMNIS is almost too fast», one of the analyists jokes. She works with the system to analyze various parameters of Ebina Denka’s plating baths. She tells us that it’s hard to keep up with the sample preparation. The team is planning to extend the automation of the system soon to help her deal with the 300 samples that she has to titrate every week.