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Going through hard times, and here comes a turning point  The st

2019.09.04 17:00

A secondary lead battery maker that is beginning to see the light after long dark ages, Nihonkaiseiren (Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture). The company is set to grow and exert its power it stored up after riding over difficulties. The part 2 of the story will continue with agonies and struggles of company president Takanori Kanemura.

 

 

Persistently focused on cost cuts, and development of new smelting technologies

photoHow could excess costs (fixed cost) be cut? President Kanemura on a day to day basis tries and tries again. When he was named president in 2011, the Tohoku earthquake hit, and following the nuclear power plant halt, power rates went up by 20% in the Kansai Electric Power service area. 

 

“Electrolysis after smelting process is something that makes us stand out, but due to the 20% power rate hike, we had to stop the process. As a result, I gave up making ingot, and shifted to lead bullion with lower purity. I had no choice.”

 

“In addition to power rates, fuel cost reduction for the vertical furnace was also critical. Typically, vertical furnaces continue to run without losing fire. But input deliveries decreased, so we created a process where the furnace comes online when sufficient feedstock became available and save fuel costs as much as possible as well. “

 

“In addition, we worked with other small and middle-sized lead smelters on a joint research to cut costs in the smelting process.”

 

“Battery plates contain pure lead and a few percentages of lead oxide and lead sulfide in a paste form. We learned that by separating them, heat required for smelting could be reduced dramatically. This is the same technique as the latest method employed by European smelters currently.”

 

Steady research efforts continued and we came to these achievements. It was really about refining the smelting technologies. Among other initiatives, the company started to process spent battery liquid in-house that was previously outsourced.

 

“I asked our staff to make effort to improve operational efficiencies. For example, smelting staff was asked to help the dismantling of spent batteries that takes a lot of processes. That is one of the things we did.”

 

Mr. Kanemura’s days of effort and creative approaches continue, but it was trial and error and groping in the darkness when tomorrow was not clearly visible. He was under strain, but there were many supporters drawn by his passion. He said trading houses to start with, business partners and industry members gave him a lot of support, and they also gave him encouragement

 

 

Exports to South Korea stop!  

Change came from an unexpected direction. In June 2016, several South Korean secondary smelters, the largest export destination of spent batteries, were found illegally dumping arsenic-contained residue for years. 

 

Ministry of Environment took this seriously and sent a research mission to the site. The smelters were not meeting up to Japanese environmental standards and the ministry amended the Basel Law in June 2017, leading to more rigorous inspection process for exports approval. However, the South Korean secondary smelter industry refused to verify their process standards, which lead to a halt in the export license renewal process and the smelters losing the licenses one after another, which was totally unexpected.

 

photoThis was the stage of a major turning point.

 

In the phase shifts, some dance at the stage of transition, some are made to dance.

 

Springs store up power when compressed before stretched. The time for Nihonkaiseiren’s to release its power is near. (to continue)

 

 

 

(IRUNIVERSE Kaneshige&MM)

 

 

 

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