[From August Issue 2013]
Yoshiizumi Industry Corporation
Fried food ordered at a Japanese restaurant is always served with shredded cabbage and sashimi is served garnished with shredded radish. Chopped leek is indispensable as a condiment for udon or soba noodles and for various kinds of fish fillets displayed in the fish counters of supermarkets. All of these things are an everyday sight.
At home, cabbage, radish, leek and fish are all cut using a kitchen knife and a cutting board. But in the food services industry and at food markets, which handle large amounts of ingredients, human labor alone won’t cut it. Because of this, food processing machines called “slicers” were developed. One of the leading companies producing slicers for business use is Yoshiizumi Industry Corporation in Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture.
Speaking about their approach to product development, President SASAKI Keieki says, “We’re attempting to create machines that can cut finely, just as a professional cook would do with a kitchen knife.” Take, for example, the “Leek Chopper:” developed at the request of an udon shop that wished to chop leeks quickly, the machine was a hit with over 1,000 units sold so far. This machine became increasingly popular in the food services industry and is now widely used both at home and abroad.
One of the firm’s strongest products is the “Super Sakanayasan fish slicer” that can cut fillets such as salmon used for lunch boxes into equal portions. An example of their high tech expertise, using a high precision camera and a microcomputer, this machine can cut a fish split in half from top to tail into equal portions that weigh the same, with an error margin of only three grams. It is capable of processing 2,800 slices per hour.
Once you enter the weight of the fish you want to slice into the touch panel, the machine selects the optimum program. Though fillets cut from the region near the head are different in shape from those near the tail, because it’s possible to change the angle at which the knife touches the fish and the thickness of the fillet, the machine produces cuts that are almost exactly the same weight. A patent is being filed for the “technology to measure each cut,” this machine’s best feature.
The company originally offered a service to sharpen knives and other metallic products. Before long, they gained a reputation for sharpening knives, so, employing the same knowhow, began to produce not only knives but also food processing machines. Sasaki explains the reason why they are capable of developing products that other companies can’t imitate, “It’s because we do everything on our own; from designing, to manufacturing parts, to assembling them.”
While their competitors assemble parts purchased from other companies, “We manufacture parts ourselves, so we don’t need to buy them. This enables us to build machines quickly at no extra cost,” says Sasaki, explaining the difference between his company’s method and that of other firms. When we eat out or consume store bought food, we may be benefiting from this company’s machines without realizing it.
Text: ITO Koichi