The philosophy at the Ohori factory is that nothing is impossible. When some in the industry say what they are doing is audacious Ohori employees just shrug their shoulders and keep on innovating. This can do attitude has made Ohori the Japanese industry leader in the industrial grinding field. Ohori can guaranty ground materials to a precision of one micrometer. Ohori holds itself to the highest standards in the industry by testing all of its custom ordered products at its in house laboratory, where every product is tested innumerable ways before being sent out to customers. All innovations in grinding technology are also subjected to the most rigorous tests in order to ensure that they are on the cutting edge of applied technology and that they are constantly innovating new approaches to the field to keep themselves ultra-competitive in the fields of medical and aerospace manufacturing.
They Said We Were Audacious.
We Said Business as Usual.
Ohori at One Micrometer – A New Milestone.
The Ohori Grinding factory is located in the town of Kakamigahara, known as the heart of the Japanese aircraft industry. The Ohori factory houses fifty precision machines that can grind cylinders, interior surfaces, and machine parts and employees forty highly skilled workers. One thing that all visitors to the factory notice is how silent the factory is, despite the all of the high-tech grinding happening there. This quiet grinding factory nestled in the Japanese countryside may go unnoticed by passersby, but its craftsmanship is highly sought out by a diverse number of industries worldwide.
In 2013 the Ohori factory received a confidential call from the European F1 racing world asking them if they could grind a very fine elongated object. Ohori could not reveal all of the details of the project to Protechnology Japan reporters, but the basic request read, “could you grind a shaft for a special experimental model race car?” Ohori said they would give it a try. “I was literally trembling when I looked at the mechanical drawing,” said Ohori’s top engineer. He covered his mouth in embarrassment saying, “I voiced my doubts to the CEO, recommending that we not take on the project.”
Mr. Ohori, CEO of Ohori industries, told Protechnology Japan, “I was aware the challenges facing our team, and I knew that we were putting our reputation was on the line, but I had a deeply felt conviction that we had to give it a try.” Mr. Ohori told Protechnology Japan that relentless can do attitude was what made Japanese manufacturing great in the first place, maintained that Ohori was going to keep that tradition alive. Mr. Ohori paused for a moment and asked how the word Kanose would be translated into English. Our bilingual journalist paused for a moment and said, “there’s no real translation, because Kanose implies mindset open to possibilities.” Mr. Ohori smiled and said, “we work with the power of possible.”
Mr. Ohori leaned back in his chair and gave out a slight chuckle. “We looked the impossible in the face, rolled up our sleeves and got to work.” The CEO assembled a team of his best men and set off on an exploratory process that took a year and a half. They faced the challenge of having to grind interior cylindrical surfaces as well as complex three dimensional designs without sacrificing highly specialized functionality. The upshot of this process is that they developed the technology to grind a highly challenging surface down to a functional space of 1 micrometer. This was previously unheard of in the grinding industry.
Corporate morale shot up to an all time high after the company was able to complete the shaft for the race car. Mr. Maeda, a long time Ohori employee who was working tirelessly on the exploratory team told us with a sigh of relief, “we accomplished more than we set out to do, and wound up doing what we though was not humanly possible.” All of the Ohori employees we talked with reported that they can’t wait till they see this new super race car at a major motor sporting event. “We’ll be waiting there at the finish line,” was the buzz phrase throughout the company. When the project was complete Mr. Ohori let out a sigh of relief and exclaimed before his company, “there’s nothing we can’t grind.” The workers all cheered!
The Courage to Change the World through Breaking the Boundaries of High Precision Grinding.
The potential applications of high precision grinding technology opens new vistas for industrial manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace and medical industries. Some metals such as aluminum, stainless steel and inconel have long been considered unsuitable for high precision grinding because of their particular properties. Aluminum and other metals like it have the advantage of being both light weight and sturdy, so it would be beneficial to be able to grind them to high precision. Ohori found that by making simple changes to the bearings settings they could create reliable and efficient grinding processes for heat susceptible light weight metals such as aluminum. Through bracing techniques and employing novel uses of smoothing rollers Ohori was able to grind an iconel tube with a diameter of 570 mm and a length of 2000mm with high precision. The potential applications of such a part and the potential customizability of inconel parts are vast. “We invite customers to come to us with complex designs and we will find the appropriate grinding solutions,” said Mr. Ohori as he gave us a tour of the factory.
Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is a particularly interesting material in that it is many times stronger than steel and much lighter than aluminum, making it useful for a wide number of industrial applications, from medical equipment, X-ray technology to aerospace engineering. Because of its hardness and vulnerability to thermal processing, it has been labeled an unsuitable material for grinding. Even though CFPR is not used in the grinding industry somehow one of the researchers in a free brainstorming meeting, a common event at the Ohori factory, had a flash of intuition to start working with CFRP and asked the question, “can we grind it?”. Ideas about how it can be used in creating support for human bone, X-ray technology and surgical supplies began to pour out during the meeting. The Ohori research team wrestled with the idea of working with CFRP for a while before putting it into a swipe file and forgetting about it. The group did not expect the concept to go anywhere and focused their efforts on other projects. A few months after putting the idea aside one of Japan’s leading grinding innovation groups began asking the same question about CFRP. Ohori, having already toyed with the idea jumped at the opportunity and announced at the meeting that they would be taking on the challenge of grinding CFRP. Mr. Suzuki, a veteran Ohori employee at the meeting said, “you should have seen the looks we got when we said yes to the idea.” Saying yes to the seemingly impossible is business as usual at Oohori.
Grinding Without Borders: Moving Beyond Traditional Partner Industries
Exciting partnerships are springing up around Ohori these days. In 2008 Ohori was honored to be invited to participate in an Aerospace Industrial Research Summit sponsored by the local Gifu county government. In 2010, after extensive preparation the company was named a JISQ9100 licensed factory for the aerospace defense industry. In 2011 Ohori was named a certified medical manufacturing facility by the most recognized Japanese certification granting authority. Alongside acquiring these prestigious factory certifications Ohori has remained committed to research and development by pursuing innovations in applied grinding technologies for the manufacturing, aerospace and medical industries.
Ohori has devoted a significant portion of their second facility to a distinctive thermostatic laboratory. Ohori is also making innovations with customizable large cylindrical objects that can be as large as 600 mm in diameter by 900 mm long as well as developing new measuring technologies for three dimensional objects. According to the CEO, “many of the orders that come to us specify that they don’t want their parts to be copied by other companies.” Mr. Ohori states that the company receives many exciting requests that many companies turn down because of difficulty of design and cost to the grinder. “We are not looking to maximize profits, we are looking to serve the needs of humanity,” Mr. Ohori passionately told Protechnology Japan. “Furthermore,” he said, “we do not see customers as consumers, but understand them as partners.” Mr. Ohori continued, “We invite all potential customers, both in Japan and abroad, to contact us with their most pressing design needs and most difficult manufacturing challenges in order to begin a conversation about how we can help.” It doesn’t matter how big or small the order. Ohori seeks to overcome manufacturing challenges and advance industrial technology. Mr. Ohori’s attitude is refreshing in today’s profit driven world. “At the end of the day I personally live by the power of possible,” Mr. Ohori said in a reflective moment, “the partnerships we build with our customers are long lasting and based on mutual trust and commitment to quality.” Our reporter left the factory with a feeling of empowerment and satisfaction knowing that there were still companies out there that serve the needs of their customers, both large and small, while fervently remaining committed to advancing innovation. Grind on!
Ohori Grinding Company
Company Name: Ohori Grinding Company
Business Description: Precision Grinding Technology
Headquarters Address: 1-9 Sohara-terajimacho, kakamigahara-city, Gifu 504-0842 Japan
Managing Director: Ken Ohori
Employees: 40 Established: 1981