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Thursday, 21 April 2011 10:00
Two weeks ago, Canon Copiers published information on how some of the world’s major photocopiers manufacturers had been affected by the disaster in Japan. The piece assessed, as far as was possible at the time, what level of damage had been done to companies’ premises and machinery, what contributions manufacturers had made to the relief effort and whether there could be any certainty for the outlook over the coming weeks and months. Since that article, the situation in Japan has evolved significantly. Manufacturers have been working overtime to ensure they can make full and speedy recoveries and some have provided updates to keep consumers, partner organisations and other concerned parties informed as to the ongoing state of affairs. Some companies, such as Canon, have released more detailed information on their assistance with the broader relief effort. A significant development though has been the growing anxiety, particularly in export markets, about the potential safety threat posed by goods manufactured in Japan, with some consumers concerned about the risk of radioactive contamination. A number of suppliers have made statements to reassure consumers over what will likely remain an anxiety in the coming weeks and months. Here we provide as much information as possible about the present situation for photocopiers manufacturers in Japan and the possible implications for consumers here in the UK.
Photocopiers Manufacturers' Assistance to the Relief Effort
If anything positive can be taken from the disaster in Japan, it has to be the incredible fortitude that has been demonstrated by the Japanese people and the amazing way in which the whole nation has come together. Soon after the true extent of the devastation was realised, as was revealed in the previous Canon Copiers press release, all major Japanese photocopiers manufacturers made immediate and significant financial contributions to the relief and rescue effort. Canon and Ricoh were foremost amongst these photocopiers manufacturers, each donating around 300 million Japanese yen, Canon through the Japanese Red Cross Society.
It has since emerged that Canon went considerably further than finance. A recently published company press release documented the invaluable direct support that Canon contributed to the relief effort through portable digital radiography systems which were made available to relief workers, again through the Japanese Red Cross Society. The digital radiography systems which are built around the Canon CXD1-55G multi-purpose flat panel detector, enable out-of-hospital X-ray examinations in situations where medical examination vehicles are unable to respond. Similar digital radiography systems have been deployed in other disaster zones around the world where medical and healthcare facilities have been impacted , have become inaccessible or flooded with casualties, as occurred in Haiti for instance during 2010 or in China’s Sichuan region in 2008, where in fact Canon donated a digital radiography system to the Mianyang City Central Hospital.
As well as providing this advanced medical equipment Canon employees around the world have been taking a lead in fundraising efforts to assist the recovery.
OKI has also recently published a more extensive report on its relief effort. OKI has donated around 10 million Japanese yen,, including IT network equipment it has provided in those areas where this sort of infrastructure has been affected. In a joint effort between OKI’s staff union and the corporate organisation, OKI staff members have also been encouraged to make their own donations the relief work. OKI’s staff members in other countries around the world have also taken a lead in fundraising efforts with contributions going to national Red Cross Societies and other NGO’s. OKI Group has announced that it will make every effort to assist in the rebuilding of infrastructure in affected areas, helping restore electricity, gas, water and hospitals. OKI has also set up a dedicated repair service in the afflicted area, so that customers having problems with MFP’s and printers as a result of the earthquake and tsunami can get their offices back to normal.
The Latest Updates on Photocopiers Manufacturers Production Operations
OKI added in the same press release a few words about the state of the company’s affected manufacturing operations as of 11/04/11. Manufacturing operations at Fukushima, where OKI manufacturers printers and consumables for the Japanese market, had been suspended after the quake. Full-scale operations at the site though had been restored by the time of the OKI press release. OKI did report that production may be affected depending on parts procurement issues, but the company was confident disruptions would be very limited if at all.
Ricoh’s latest plant status update was on 07/04/11. As mentioned in the first Canon Copiers disaster press release, Ricoh’s production facilities had been affected in the Tokohu and Kanto region. The Ricoh Optical Industries Co. facility had resumed operations by the end of March. At Hasama Ricoh in Miyagi production lines are now operational with some exceptions. But all lines were planned to be restored by 8th April. Tokohu Ricoh which manufacturers both product body parts and consumables again in the Miyagi region of Japan has been gradually resuming products parts assembly lines and the date of 11 April was set as a target for a full resumption of operations. As for consumables, for toner production, Ricoh aims to have production back to normal in May and production and shipment of consumables for digital duplicators had resumed by the time of writing. At Ricoh Printing Systems in Ibaraki most production lines have been restored and production lines resumed and all production lines were planned to be restored by 15 April.
Ricoh has said that domestic production outside of the affected areas continues as normal. But parts and raw materials procurement remains under ongoing review and the company is in constant dialogue with suppliers. In addition, Ricoh has made adjustments to plant manufacturing equipment to ensure maximum efficiency in view of the currently limited power supply. The company is also making use of independent generators.
Canon, for its part, aims to have all production activities across all company sites resumed by the end of April. In terms of those affected sites at which production operations had not resumed fully at the time of writing, at the Utsonomiya Plant in the Tochigi Prefecture, production was planned to be resumed sequentially from mid-April. Again, the Optical Product Plant also at Utsonomiya, production was planned to resume sequentially from mid-April. Canon Precision Inc. at Hirosaki is carrying out intermittent production. Oita Canon Inca in Ibaraki is carrying out intermittent production as is Nagasaki Canon Inc. Canon Optron Inc. had planned to resume production sequentially from early April.
Canon has stressed, as with Ricoh, that even when all production lines are repaired and back on-line the ongoing production situation remains tenuous. Power supply restrictions may affect production, as could parts and raw materials procurement issues.
Concerns over Radiation
In a release shortly after the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on operations on the Fukushima nuclear power facility was becoming clearer, Canon relayed to US customers what it hoped would be a reassuring message, that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had been carefully monitoring and assessing the potential for radiological contamination from goods entering the US from Japan. Various radiation detection methods have been used in air and sea ports, mail facilities and elsewhere to scan cargo. CBP say that they are making use of radiation detection equipment and operational protocols to resolve any safety risks.
Ricoh announced to customers and suppliers on 1 April,
“At the present time, we are confident that our products are safe.”
Reiterating Canon’s message, Ricoh noted the special care being taken by US CBP with the use of radiation detection equipment at all borders and the strict operational protocols which are being followed.
As for the situation in the EU and the UK, the EU has imposed restrictions on certain food products coming in from Japan as many may already be aware but there have been no special measures taken as far as manufactured goods is concerned. This is almost certainly due to the fact that almost all production facilities are at very low risk of any significant radioactive contamination and Japan itself has implemented very stringent checks at its own borders to ensure export markets can have full confidence in the safety of Japanese products. It would certainly seem at the present stage that concerns over contamination from Japanese products, while understandable, are not borne out in fact.
The situation in Japan is evolving all the time. The rapid recovery of the major Japanese photocopiers and consumer electronics manufacturers has astonished everyone. But while almost all plant damages are now repaired, the ongoing restrictions to power supply and potential problems in the future with parts and raw materials procurement means production for most photocopiers and electronics manufacturers may not be ‘full steam ahead’ for some time yet. While the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has been upgraded to the highest level, Level 7, due to the cumulative radioactive emissions into coastal waters, unless the situation deteriorates quite rapidly, concerns over product contamination, if there are any, would appear to be unfounded. As the Japanese government has been commenting in the last several days, it is hoped that the situation at Fukushima will be under full control within six to nine months, so a rapid deterioration would seem unlikely.
Canon Copiers would again like to take the opportunity to send its condolences to the people of Japan and congratulate photocopiers manufacturers and other manufacturers in Japan on the rapid progress that has been made towards recovery.
Canon Copiers is a leading UK supplier of Canon's award-winning imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER Advance colour photocopiers and black and white photocopiers.
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