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Sanwa Magnetic Drive Pumps Empowers the 'NET ZERO' Era

Interview - November 20, 2023

With 9 decades of experience, Sanwa Hydrotech excels in stainless steel magnetic drive pumps for a wide range of industries, including fine chemicals, petrochemicals, energy, communications, electronics, semiconductors, and food. They actively collaborate with business partners to contribute to the Net Zero era

KIYOTAKA HORIUCHI, PRESIDENT & CEO OF SANWA HYDROTECH CORPORATION, OSAKA, JAPAN.
KIYOTAKA HORIUCHI
| PRESIDENT & CEO OF SANWA HYDROTECH CORPORATION
| OSAKA, JAPAN
| WWW.SANWAPUMP.COM

You have continuously emphasized the importance of stainless steel as the material of choice for your magnetic drive pumps, stemming from your pioneering spirit and expertise in stainless steel casting businesses. Could you please provide us with an overview of your company‘s history and background?

Firstly, I would like to mention that our company was founded in 1934, initially focusing on stainless steel casting rather than pump manufacturing. My grandfather, the company's founder, was a pioneer in this field in Japan. A few years later, in addition to stainless steel casting, we started producing pumps and valves using stainless steel casting materials.

For a period of time, we sold these types of products. However, through various events and experiences, we transitioned into a specialized pump manufacturing company in 1990. For over 30 years since then, we have dedicated ourselves to the production of pumps.

During that time, our mainstream products were conventional pumps using mechanical seals, primarily used in the petrochemical industry. In 1983, we developed our own magnetic driving technologies, which we introduced to the Japanese market. At that time, an American agency approached us expressing the need for magnet pumps in the American market. They used to import them from Europe but wanted to procure them from Japan instead. In 1985, we began distributing our magnetic drive pumps in the US. We are still using that same agent for distribution.

In 1990, we further developed a magnetic drive pump tailored specially for the US market. We collaborated with the local agency to gain a competitive edge in the magnetic drive pump market and received valuable input from them. We observed the presence of magnetic drive pumps made by large US companies. To cater to the US market, we developed a pump called MAXP, designed exclusively for the US market. This pump met all the necessary certifications and specifications. During that time a local engineer from our agency in the US visited us in Japan and worked with us for approximately 10 months, gaining valuable experience. This collaboration resulted in the development of our US pump product line in 1990.

These are the starting point of our pump development journey and since then based on our business data until last year in 2022, our global sales had approached 200,000 units, making us the top manufacturer of metal magnetic pumps.

 

Your company specializes in the manufacturing, distribution, and sales of stainless steel magnetic drive pumps in those advanced industrial sectors where "leak-free" operation and "safety" are absolute requirements. Could you please tell us about the specific aspects that your company focused on during the initial development of these stainless-steel magnetic drive pumps, catering to the absolute requirement?

The starting point of our company was casting stainless steel, which is why we have remained committed to it. We have extensive knowledge and experience with stainless steel, and our magnetic drive pumps, made purely and solely from stainless steel components for the liquid-touching (wet) parts, have proven always to be leak-free and reliable over our long history of supply records.

Stainless steel always and steadily gives its maximum performance. Our engineers are experts in processing stainless steel, and we believe the potential demand for stainless-steel magnetic drive pumps is significantly big.

In terms of bearing materials, carbon was conventionally used. However, we were the first in the world to adopt Silicon Carbide (SiC) as a bearing material, which has now become the global de facto standard.

We have tried to overcome the weaknesses associated with SiC, such as clogging, through extensive research and the implementation of various surface treatments. A lot of improvements were made over our development history. Another weakness was the pump's resistance to dry run operation, but unparalleled improvements have been made in this aspect as well.

Furthermore, we were the first in the world to adopt Neodymium magnets as magnetic materials. Previously, Samarium Cobalt was used, but Neodymium offers much higher performance and power output. It has now become the global de facto standard for magnetic materials.



Your products are utilized in a wide range of industries, including electronics, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, energy, and food. Could you share the background and how you were able to enter these markets? Additionally, if there are any specific applications or sectors that you are focusing on for the future, please let us know.

We have strategically diversified our applications since 1996, expanding beyond petrochemicals. In the course of that action, we found out that magnetic drive pumps are strongly capable of developing new customers, though our salespeople didn't know much about other industries at that time.

In the 1990s, we received a historic opportunity from "F" company in the electronics field to develop pumps for water circulation in supercomputers. This collaboration, over three years, resulted in the delivery of pumps for approximately 8,000 supercomputers, marking a ground-breaking achievement for us.

People in the electronics field have a totally different way of thinking and looking at things compared to those in petrochemicals, so we had a hard time communicating with them initially, but we overcame those difficulties and were able to launch the new pumps and then after that, we were able to expand our expertise.

The electronics industry has since become a focus area for us, along with the food industry. While petrochemicals remain important, we are actively pursuing further diversification of our applications.

Looking to the future, we recognize the global trend towards the Net Zero era. We aim to contribute to this trend as a goal by aligning our business with the Net Zero field. We forecast the demands for new technology, products, equipment, and development in this area. I believe that our stainless-steel magnetic drive pumps are well-suited for applications that require liquid agents to achieve carbon neutrality. We are committed to playing a role in this important endeavor.

 

It appears that your success in entering various industries, including the notable collaboration with Company F, can be attributed to the importance of partnerships with your customers. How do you feel about this aspect? Additionally, are you actively seeking such partnerships on an ongoing basis? Please tell us more about it.

Ever since we worked with "F" company, partnerships have been crucial to our business plan, especially when working with overseas manufacturers and distributors. The partnership with "F" company happened at the same as the one in the US.

We partnered with ”S" company to develop a loading pump for LPG transport bulk semi-truck creating a unique market opportunity. That was back in 1998 and at that time, we had one competitor but now we are the only company that is making it.

Another collaboration was with a pump manufacturer for magnet pumps, where we developed a new type of pump suited for semiconductor applications which sold very well and still selling well. Furthermore, we worked with "H" company to develop magnetic drive pumps for air conditioning systems for data centers.

Our most recent collaboration resulted in a completely aseptic magnetic drive pump designed for the food industry. We were supervised by a food equipment manufacturer "I" company to create this pump, ensuring the highest level of aseptic standards. We have conducted extensive testing and are excited to showcase it at upcoming events. It was completed in June 2023, and it is completely unprecedented.

As mentioned, the strong partnerships with our customers have been vividly evident in generating new technologies, products, and experiences, which in turn have been the driving force behind dynamic changes and advancements in our business. Therefore, we will continue to actively seek promising partners not only in Japan but also in overseas markets. We are committed to pursuing these activities to move forward.

 

As one of the last parts of this interview, I would like to learn more about the connections you want to establish, particularly in terms of partnerships with foreign companies or clients. You have already mentioned the importance of trade shows, but could you please provide more information about the role such events play in facilitating international business promotion?

We aim to increase the number of distributors and raise brand awareness moving forward. Interviews like this are highly appreciated as they contribute to raising awareness of our brand. Next year we will be participating in the huge chemical exhibition called ACHEMA, in Frankfurt, Germany, which will be our second time as an exhibitor.

Although it requires significant investment, it provides an excellent platform to showcase our pumps to a global audience. Our goal is to expand our sales channels and establish partnerships with distributors. When we find suitable distributors, we would like to develop a close relationship with them to foster collaboration and drive product development.

Over the past 30 years, we have maintained a strong and trusting relationship with our American partner. We value this partnership and strive to establish similar relationships for new products and ideas. The founder of our company emphasized the importance of adopting new technology, new materials and new products.

This philosophy motivates us to adapt to the changing times, contributes to the development of society and ensures profitability through developing new products. As a company, we need to change with time.

Regarding overseas markets, we place particular importance on the US and European markets due to their large size and dynamic nature, so we would like to collaborate with local partners in these markets.

I must mention here that when we entered the EU market, we agreed to a product lineup that had received approval of various certification standards (explosion-proof standards, hygiene standards, etc.) and made a full-scale entry into the market.

 

If we were to conduct this interview again when your company celebrates its 95th anniversary, six years from now, what would you tell me at that time?

The next specific target is magnetic drive pumps for liquified Ammonia Gas. It is very difficult development as they are required to withstand high pressure and low temperatures and never allow any leakage, but we are boldly taking on one of the challenges towards the Net Zero target.

Some of our customers are big companies who need to hit their CO2 emission targets by 2030. After the joint initiatives between our customers and us toward a Net Zero Society are done, we expect that our pumps will be in high demand, by then, in many locations.

As a top niche manufacturer of stainless steel magnetic pumps, I’m certain that Sanwa Hydrotech is now able to aim to establish a leading position in this specialized global market to achieve a net zero society.

When you came back next, you would find out if we had already achieved this or not.

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