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Sendai Nikon will also research new materials from now on.

You also deal with the D1-series and D100 here. Is there any big difference in manufacturing for the two models?

Many differences exist, but a big one is in body materials-magnesium alloy and resin mold. Change in materials requires great care in manufacturing.

D100 main units close to completion.

Does Sendai Nikon propose materials as well?

Yes. When Nikon development division presents specifications for a new camera, Sendai Nikon seeks suitable production methods for those specifications.
I think that looking for new materials will become increasingly important for us as a manufacturer. We plan actively apply new materials for new cameras in the future.

Do you have any specific ideas for new materials?

Environmental preservation is an important subject, so we are redoubling our efforts to advance use of new materials. Because the use of lead in electronic equipments will be legally prohibited in Europe from 2006, "lead-free" characteristics will become more crucial. The use of some other materials, including cadmium, hexavalent chromium and mercury should be abolished by then, too. Considering this, it will become more important for us to look for new materials to use.

I see. Does Sendai Nikon cope with other environmental measures?

As of March 21, 1997, we have ISO 14001 certification, a global standard for environmental management systems. I think this is proof that our efforts to be environment-friendly have been recognized.
More specifically, we have our own rules to reduce environmental impact that can be caused by the process of development, design, production, and service operations for cameras, semiconductors, chambers and other products. The most important rule is for the whole company to unite in tackling environmental problems. Throughout Sendai Nikon, it is everybody's job to grasp the situation regarding company environmental activities. Once a rule is established in this regard, all company staff learn about it and its objectives through job training and other activities.

As a factory using advanced technologies to manufacture Nikon cameras, we are building good partnership with overseas factory operations.

Recent manufacturing trends point to more production moving overseas. What should Sendai Nikon's role be under such conditions?

For a camera manufacturing factory operation, developing business overseas may be inevitable. But we still maintain our advantages in technology, and it is our job to support our business from this perspective.

Do you actually go to overseas factories to provide instruction?

"While building strong partnership with overseas factories, I would like to be involved in manufacturing Nikon cameras at Sendai Nikon for as long as possible," says Mr. Inomata, brightening at the prospect.

Yes, I have had opportunities to visit some factories, including one in China, where everyone is full of vigor. It reminded me of Japan in its golden age of economic growth. There are cutting-edge facilities and staff who are really quick to master techniques once they learn them. I think Sendai Nikon should study how to compete with these operations.
As a colleague in manufacturing Nikon products, I hope to build a good relationship with the new factory in China, which will start operations in 2003. It would be nice if each of us can have a specific respective role as part of a working partnership. For example, we at Sendai Nikon can teach technologies for camera manufacturing to overseas factories, including the one in China, and overseas factories can specialize in manufacturing the cameras.

Will Sendai Nikon continue to make its mark in the future as a leading factory operation manufacturing Nikon cameras?

Yes, I hope so. And I wish to be involved in manufacturing Nikon cameras at Sendai Nikon for as long as possible.

Communication among headquarters, overseas factories, and all Nikon staff is crucial.

Tell us about Sendai Nikon's future plans.

One plan is to promote a global collaboration system for manufacturing through communication with overseas factories. Earlier stages of manufacturing that require high technology are Sendai Nikon's best opportunities make an impact. We should take responsibility for the first step of the camera manufacturing process by fully using the latest technologies.
Another plan is to launch new product production lines much more smoothly. Nowadays, several models are launched in a year, so we have to accommodate well to changing situations.

People at Sendai Nikon greet each other with a smile. First-time visitors often comment on how lively everyone there seems. Our colorful work clothes also make a cheerful impression. Such vigor helps the organization maintain its position as a producer of Nikon flagship models.

How long has it taken to launch recent models?

From the planning until the peak of production, it just takes one-sixth of the period required ten years ago, and one-third of the period required a few years ago. You can imagine how this reflects process improvements.

Do you have any other specific plans for the future?

We are preparing a kind of road map showing what each section plans to do. As product cycles become shorter, it is increasingly important to consider how to proceed with manufacturing from more viewpoints.

In conclusion, what are keys to manufacturing a good camera?

Most important is good communication between Nikon development division and Sendai Nikon. Sharing information results in the creation of a better camera, I believe. Sendai Nikon will continue to face its various challenges from a position of power.

We continue to look forward to your remarkable production of Nikon flagship models.