Amano keeps ticking

LOVELAND - In airports and office buildings from Hawaii to Kuwait you'll find Amano Cincinnati Inc. parking systems, time and attendance systems and building-access systems.
The Loveland manufacturing facility - a subsidiary of Amano Corp. in Japan - nearly doubled its space recently to 90,000 square feet to accommodate a consolidation with its Anaheim, Calif., plant.

But physical growth isn't all the expansion will accommodate. The expansion will also help Amano Cincinnati's business growth. "Revenue has grown significantly over the past few years ... an average of 20 percent annually," said Kash Gokli, Amano Cincinnati's vice president of manufacturing.

Amano is the largest manufacturer of its kind, according to Henry Allen, president of Carolina Time Equipment Co. in Charlotte, N.C.

Allen stocks and distributes parking systems, time and attendance systems (more commonly known as time clocks) and building-access systems for a variety of manufacturers worldwide.

"I started representing Amano when it was Cincinnati Time Recorder," Allen said.

"They make a great product, and they're very competitive, and they manufacture their products over here to try to create a few jobs rather than send them all overseas."

Amano Corp. Japan bought Cincinnati Time Recorder, which was founded in 1896, in 1991.

The corporation kept Cincinnati in the U.S. facility's name because of Cincinnati Time Recorder's "recognition in the industry," Gokli said.

Amano Cincinnati Inc. is the U.S. manufacturing operation for its parent company, Amano Corp. in Japan, whose corporate offices for U.S. operations are in Roseland, N.J.

Amano Corp. Japan is a $700 million company, and Amano Cincinnati is a $50 million company.

Sixty percent of component parts used in Amano Cincinnati Inc. manufacturing are made in the U.S.

Amano Cincinnati makes about 100,000 time clocks, of 10 varieties, a year and about 8,000 to 10,000 parking systems, also of 10 varieties, a year. Amano sells its products to retailers or to dealers, who in turn sell the products to the end user.

Before the plant consolidation, Amano time clocks were manufactured in Anaheim.

Gokli said the consolidation brings with it the challenge of incorporating the "high-dollar, low-volume" parking system operation with the "low-dollar, high-volume" time-clock operation. The objective, he said, is to not duplicate services and to use manufacturing equipment to its full capacity.

Before the consolidation, Amano Cincinnati had already achieved this goal through a number of lean manufacturing programs, including those directed by Jon Lehn, business development manager for TechSolve. The Bond Hill-based center helps companies improve their profits by improving their processes - "by eliminating waste in the workplace," Lehn said.

Amano's lean manufacturing is so impressive, Lehn said, that he takes other client companies on tour there.

The lean manufacturing business philosophy - which focuses on eliminating waste, not people, in the workplace - has taken off in recent years due to events such as the 9/11 attacks and global competition, Lehn said.

"Fifteen years ago, everybody was happy - everybody was fat and fed ... but a lot of business is going overseas," Lehn said. "We have to lower our costs by eliminating anything the customer is not willing to pay for."

At Amano Cincinnati Inc., waste is a four-letter word.

Cleanliness and organization and a lot of "visual management" are evident in the plant, and if even one ticket isn't read properly during a parking system machine test, the entire unit goes back for evaluation.

Outside the lunchroom is a chart reminding workers and management of "8 Common Wastes" - overproduction being one.

"Making more than what is needed today is waste because it is not needed now, and it could be obsolete in a month," Gokli explained.

Amano's philosophy translates into its products.

The company's latest parking system software tracks inefficiencies and theft, produces reports for improvements and is increasing revenues for its users.

According to Amano Cincinnati's human resources manager Paul Kattleman, who has worked for years in Greater Cincinnati city and county government, environment and work ethic have a lot to do with the success of a company.

"Our people know the value of working together, working hard and coming to work every day," he said. "And it shows in our products."
bilde.jpgSantiago Colon of Sharonville assembles time clocks at Amano Cincinnati Inc. in Loveland. The company has nearly doubled its space to accommodate a consolidation with its Anaheim, Calif., plant

About Amano

Founded: Started in 1896, formerly known as Cincinnati Time Recorder, bought in 1991 by Amano Corp. Japan.

Number of employees: 90

Service area: Worldwide

Interesting fact: Amano Cincinnati Inc. was a 2004 winner of the Ohio Partnership for Excellence award.

Teams of trained examiners review applicants' 50-page paper answering questions on leadership, strategic planning and other criteria and also make site visits before determining winners, said Casey Mackert, executive director.

The Kent organization - now in its 8th year - reviews about 35 applicants a year for the awards.

Address and information: 130 Commerce Blvd., Loveland; (513) 697-9000;
Amano Cincinnati Inc.
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