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Big in Japan

One consequence of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in March 2011 is that it has resulted in a biomass boom in Japan. This has led to increased interest in North American and European size reduction equipment and machinery.

Komptech's "Axtor" grinding it out at a trade show in Japan where it is proving to be the model of choice for the company (photo courtesy Komptech).

Komptech’s “Axtor” grinding it out at a trade show in Japan where it is proving to be the model of choice for the company (photo courtesy Komptech).

For Austria-headed Komptech GmbH, it seems that Japanese contractors have taken a particular shine to its high-speed universal green waste and wood shredder “Axtor”. Launched in 2011, the “Axtor” can be converted into a wood chipper for logs. According to Komptech the conversion, from shredder mode with free swing tools to chipper mode, with fixed holders and blades along with screening baskets can be done in less than three hours.

Currently there are 14 Axtor units in operation throughout Japan. This places the country as the number one market for the model. Komptech’s Stefan Windisch, Area Sales Manager for Japan outlines why the model is proving popular.

Can these sales be attributed to the feed-in tariff (FIT) system for biomass, especially unused wood and forest residues?

– Yes, our sales activities are connected to Fukushima, as this is pushing the whole biomass market in Japan. The government is making heavy investments in FIT systems, but is also doing other things like providing grants for machine purchases too.

Can you elaborate on these machine grants?

– Actually I’m not very familiar with them since we work through our Japanese partners Ryokusan.

I note that 50 percent of the units in operation are tracked Axtors suggesting terrain mobility. Yet knowing a little about Japanese road and forest conditions – are these used in forest operations?

– The Japanese customers love to have their machines on tracks, even if they operate on concrete or asphalt surfaces. Our machines typically don’t work directly within the mountains and forested areas. Instead the wood is being delivered to plants where it will be chipped for biomass power stations, normally close to the biomass power stations.

What makes the Axtor such a popular choice for this type of application in Japan?

– The unique thing with the Axtor is the design of the shredding unit. This gives the contractor the option of producing quality woodchips out of forest residuals,something our competitors in Japan cannot. Furthermore it is designed in such a way to protect the shredding unit in the event of contaminants and foreign objects in the material coming into the machine thus avoiding serious damage and downtime for the contractor. The quality we can achieve in the case of chipping wood logs is also premium class, confirmed by our customers. On top of that, Komptech and our sales partner Ryokusan, enjoy an excellent reputation in Japan with over 20 years with our machines for shredding and composting operations.

Finally, do you see continued growth in this sector, material preparation for biomass power?

– Indeed, we can see also for the future a good opportunity for us to supply more machines to the Japanese market. The trend in Japan is going into the same direction as we have seen in Europe. The quality of the input material will go down and come from more varied sources. This is a good selling point for our machines.

5591/AS

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