Visit to Kasai UK plant (3rd November 2023)
|On Friday, November 3rd, Deputy Consul General Minori Ishii visited Kasai Kogyo's plant in Washington, Northeast England. The plant, which began operations in 1991, employs approximately 550 people and supports the local economy. Due to the spread of the new coronavirus, shortages of semiconductors and other parts, and a series of production cuts by automobile suppliers, sales of car interior parts produced at the plant decreased. Although the plant was operating at a loss for three consecutive years since 2018, it was able to turn a profit in 2022 thanks to the efforts of Japanese and UK employees in making continuous improvement despite continued difficulties such as soaring prices of materials, resources, energy, and labour costs.
As part of these improvement endeavours, Kasai is consistently adopting new technologies and techniques. They have adopted a world-first technology, combining vacuum forming and skin material bonding without the need for solvent-based adhesive on door trim parts. A 3D “Kimekomi” solution for door trims which is based on techniques used on traditional, Japanese Kimekomi dolls is being utilised, enabling materials to be tucked into a three-dimensional groove to give the appearance of a separate part. As well as a process of 'back-injecting' resin, known as “insert-moulding” technology, which allows resin to be directly injected onto the back of material in order to bond the plastic substrate to the covering material without the need for an adhesive. Finally, PP (Polypropylene) foaming technology has been introduced, which enables weight reduction and improved fuel economy, whilst simultaneously achieving high rigidity and better anti-scratch performance.