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Nitto Kohki advanced know-how further contributing to hydrogen fuel and LiB industries

Article - November 17, 2023

With its pioneering technology, Nitto Kohki is eyeing increased presence in LiB manufacturing and couplings for hydrogen fuels as the shift to the next-generation of vehicles continues to take place.

“Nitto Kohki has an advantage having a foot in both EV and hydrogen vehicle markets. We have great potential in both directions.”

Akinobu Ogata, President & CEO, Nitto Kohki Co., Ltd.

With stricter environmental regulation coming into place in countries across the globe, the demand for electric and hydrogen vehicles will continue to increase. This trend is presenting major business opportunities for Nitto Kohki, a Japanese firm that manufactures couplings for vehicles, hydrogen fuel stations and lithium-ion batteries (LiBs), as well as labor and energy-saving technology, machinery and tools.

In Japan, the company has developed its couplings for hydrogen vehicles together with Toyota, and has also managed to capture market share with couplings for refueling stations by teaming up with a leading Japanese dispenser manufacturer.

“We will be expanding our product lineup and bolstering sales activities to carve out new applications besides fuel cell vehicles, such as transportation equipment and ships,” adds Akinobu Ogata. “Nitto Kohki’s hydrogen-related products satisfy Japanese safety standards, which are the most stringent in the world. Fuel cells are expected to find more uses outside the passenger vehicle sector, for example in forklifts, ships, drones, and freight cars, and ensuring safety performance will be crucial.”

With growing production of LiBs for electric vehicles (EVs), Nitto Kohki is well positioned to meet increasing demand for couplings used in the transportation of liquid electrolyte solution material used in LiBs, as well as in EV production lines.

“This increased need for batteries is leading to an increase in our own business as our products are a crucial part of the battery-making process,” says the Nitto Kohki president. An increase in EV production, particularly in China, has led to sales expansion for couplings used on EV battery production lines, contributing to the record sales level.

“We see many avenues for increasing our sales activities for this battery production. In this way, you could say Nitto Kohki has an advantage having a foot in both EV and hydrogen vehicle markets. We have great potential in both directions.”

Opportunities are also arising for the Japanese firm in the field of automation, and energy and labor-saving technologies, with a highlight product in the pipeline being a new pump that dramatically reduces the amount of electricity required for suction conveyor systems by limiting discharge pressure and flow. Offering energy savings, easy installation, quiet operation, and cleanliness, this new pump makes it possible to significantly reduce power usage. “A prototype has already been manufactured and is undergoing safety tests,” Mr. Ogata reveals. “Our aim is to launch the product early next year and customers are waiting with high anticipation. Only so much information can be disclosed about products currently under development, but products contributing to automation and labor saving remain priority development targets.”

Testament to the company’s commitment to innovation and product development is its new factory set to open in Fukushima. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma (best known for designing the Tokyo Olympic Stadium), the new Fukushima plant will incorporate the latest cutting-edge technology, along with automation, AI, and other labor-saving technologies. “At this plant, we can raise the standard of the products we make to the next level,” the president proudly declares.

Meanwhile, outside Japan, Mr. Ogata reveals that Nitto Kohki’s basic strategy is “to increase brand recognition and to collaborate with influential partners in target markets. As well as actively participating in hydrogen-related trade shows overseas, we are exploring partnerships with companies of good standing.”