Today's Notables

Getting Ready for MIT Visit

Feburuary 2003
Hisashi Furuichi
President and C.E.O.

I will be traveling with Mr. Asa, Manager of T.K. Emulsification and Dispersion Technology Laboratory to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, MA) February 6th and 7th. As most already know, TK Filmics, the high-speed, thin-film mixer, won the Prize of President of Japan Patent Attorneys'Association last year and since then, the mixer continues to gain a reputation for superior performance and quality in Japan. This month, however, we will work jointly with MIT, a world leader in engineering research, on a joint industry/academia project to clearly determine the theoretical basis of mixing behind T.K. Filmics. Personally, this is not my first experience with MIT but I will be meeting Professor Dalzell, who will keep a Filmics mixer in his lab to conduct the research, for the first time.

My last contact with MIT was through affiliate company, FMI. FMI has a relationship with a US venture that developed a high-speed convection oven, which MIT was requested to research. The president of the company was Rick Caron, who has 20 years experience as a consultant at the global firm, Arthur D. Little, Co., and who also graduated from MIT. He has an extensive technical background along with superior marketing expertise and had been recruited for a very hefty salary. At the time, I was in charge of marketing the oven in Japan. Rick struck me as someone who had a wealth of knowledge and information to share.

When I came to T.K. and saw Filmics, I could not help but recall my experience with the high-speed convection oven. The common feature between these two products is that in both cases, energy is applied to the material being processed, or cooked, but in a totally new, innovative way. In both cases, the energy applied to the material is greater, compared to other technologies at the time. This yields striking advantages accompanied by disadvantages at the same time. However, as in the case of the oven, studying and testing the Filmics mixing process from many different angles will eventually lead to greater understanding of process and how to deliver the optimal results. Rick suggested the possibility of MIT researching the mixer to provide us with the necessary theoretical and logical understanding of the mixer in order to provide our customers with solutions they need.

I often say that it is not the product (mixer) that customers buy because of the inherent value of the machine itself; they purchase the solution the machine and service provide together. Naturally, in the field of mixing, micro-emulsion, and dispersion, we have customers in a variety of industries, all of which require sophisticated knowledge and technological expertise in their respective industries in order to achieve their desired objectives. Naturally, it is impossible for a company like T.K. to have the resources to be able to research and develop solutions to all those needs. However, if we are able to understand the theory and logic of the concept, I am confident we open the door to customers to develop their solution. That is why I have welcomed this opportunity for joint research with MIT.

MIT was established in 1865 and is currently ranked at the top in the US in engineering, information sciences, biotechnology, economics and math. Because of its prestige, MIT has been able to command a significant share in federal research grants of up to $6,000,000 per year (about 750,000,000 yen). Among his many achievements, Dr. Dalzell, who is overseeing the research, was employed at Polaroid Co as a researcher after completing his doctorate in chemical engineering in 1965, and has several patents to his name. In looking at his impressive resume, I noticed that in the past five years, he has even been studying Japanese. I am certainly looking forward to my first meeting with him while he is probably excited to see how far his Japanese will take him.

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