ELK GROVE VILLAGE, ILL. — Aoki Technical Laboratory Inc., a maker of stretch blow molding equipment, has opened a $300,000 facility in Elk Grove Village to supply spare parts and technical support to U.S. and Canadian customers.
The major objective of the facility, called Aoki Laboratory America Inc., is to develop markets in the United States and Canada.
Currently, 100 Aoki machines are operating in the U.S. and Canada, while the much smaller Mexican bottle market has 120 Aoki machines in production. About 1,300 Aoki machines have been sold worldwide.
``We want to provide, one, good service, and two, a quick response and reassurance for our customers,'' President Shigeto Aoki said in a June 17 interview at the Aoki Laboratory America open house.
The Illinois facility is the Nagano, Japan-based firm's fifth subsidiary worldwide. The others are in Germany, Mexico, Singapore and Brazil.
The 10,000-square-foot building includes a showroom for demonstrating an SB III-350LL-40 machine. The single-stage injection stretch blow molding machine is set up to run PET bottles in 10 cavities. The facility also includes a stockroom for spare parts and training rooms.
The facility employs seven, including three engineers. Setsuyuki Takeuchi is president of Aoki Laboratory America while Mike Okubo is vice president.
When Aoki Technical Laboratory was founded 23 years ago, the goals were to make bottles with energy-saving equipment to produce various types of containers.
``A single-stage machine has energy consumption half that of a two-stage machine,'' Aoki said. ``This is 2-3 cents per bottle in cost savings from energy savings. It gives companies more profit.''
Aoki makes different machines for narrow-neck and wide-neck containers. The SB III-350LL-40 is the firm's most recent narrow-neck machine. It makes 3,000 bottles per hour. The biggest machine has 20 cavities and produces 5,000 bottles an hour.
New markets in wide-mouth jars are emerging; Aoki sold a machine to an undisclosed South American firm to manufacture plastic jars for mayonnaise. Aoki also expects demand for beer in polyethylene naphthalate bottles to grow. And the company has developed a machine for a PEN/PET blend for a hot-fill application.