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A measure of quality Shinwa Rules Co., Ltd.

Website: Shinwa Rules Co., Ltd.External site: a new window will open
Category: Japanese Machinery

A long history of metalworks

The city of Sanjo in the middle of Niigata Prefecture has a long history of metalworking. Since the 16th century, craftsmen there have been churning out metal tools and cutleries among other products, and even now the area is full of small-scale family enterprises as well as larger companies engaged in world-class metalworks.

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Shinwa Rules President Toru Watanabe

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Shinwa Rules has more than 80% of the Japanese domestic market share in straight rulers and angle rulers

Three such companies making similar products knew that the key to surviving into the next century hinged on efficiencies of scale and quality, and in 1971 they merged to form the Shinwa Rules Co., Ltd. Indeed, that goal seems to have been met, for Shinwa Rules now offers a catalog featuring myriad industrial quality rulers, protractors and tape measures-among approximately 2,000 other products-and claims more than 80 percent of the Japanese domestic market share in straight and angle rulers.

A booming business in home centers

Shortly after Shinwa Rules was formed, Japan saw the debut of "home centers:" big box hardware stores catering to the do-it-yourself crowd. Before that, the company mainly supplied small hardware stores throughout Japan, but a strategic decision to expand their products at these home centers proved pivotal. President Toru Watanabe notes that well over half of Shinwa Rules' current revenues stem from home center business, while hardware and tool stores comprise the remainder.

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Using the photographic developing technique to create a sharp and accurate measuring scale

Quality rules

As carpenters and other builders rely heavily on its measuring instruments, Shinwa Rules takes its commitment of providing accurate and easy-to-use tools seriously. Kazunori Maruyama, manager of the Overseas Sales Department, points out how the thin film used to develop and later etch the measuring scale is managed strictly in the same temperature and humidity throughout the years to prevent misalignment in the accuracy. Staff gives finished products a thorough inspection before shipping out, and the company even went through the rigorous process of meeting the guidelines for Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) certification. It's no surprise that customer complaints are practically nonexistent at less than 0.01 percent.

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Thanks to rigorous quality control, customer complaints are less than 0.01%

Recognizing the need to balance quality with cost performance, Shinwa Rules set up their own factory in China. They even brought over machines from Japan, and Maruyama says production is indistinguishable from their Japanese standard.

Quality tools for quality work

Watanabe hopes to bring his products to more of the world, believing there's a significant need for quality tools. "When we've gone abroad and looked around the world's hardware stores," he says, "I'm reminded of the good quality of Japanese tools." He adds that he supposes the reason why so many historical buildings and monuments are still standing in Kyoto and Nara is because Japanese craftsmen were insistent on using quality instruments. Compromising on quality isn't something Watanabe wants-either for Shinwa Rules or his customers.