ASANO Newsletter Vol.1
"A ground-breaking new auto shackle is now available"
The key feature of Auto Shackle Type II is its release operation.
By pulling a cord attached to its body, you can open the gate instantly and easily.
In addition, as you can pull the cord in any direction to open the gate, it is highly convenient for use on a ship.
You can also open the gate by using a spike or other similar tool.
An optional lock pin can prevent the gate from being opened by accident.
◇The Product in Use
Auto Shackle Type II was developed for use at locations where a main ship and a smaller boat are connected while seine fishing.
Besides the ability of the product to easily release a small boat at a fishing ground, it can also be used on other occasions on a ship where connection and release operations are required.
◇ For seine fishing of salmon in Alaska
"We want brackets that can instantly and easily release a rope that is connecting a main ship to a boat during seine fishing of salmon."
The above was a request from a customer in Alaska, which started everything.
The bracket size had to be about the size of a person's palm, and the working load was required to be two tons.
We were also requested to enable the cord to be released by pulling it in any direction.
This challenge launched two years of struggle for the team lead by Watanabe of the Design and Purchase Division.
◇Project started with a field survey
In order to gain an understanding of the customer's actual needs, which could not be gathered simply by exchanging e-mails, the first thing Asano did was visit the actual site.
"It was quite a long trip and we had to change planes three times. However, it was worthwhile, and we learned a lot," says Watanabe.
The information we acquired and the trusting relationship we were able to build contributed to this development and will also be an asset when producing products in the future.
◇ Developing ideal form and functionality with an aim to produce the best
We found that products produced by other companies that were being used in Alaska had a protruding release lever, which created the risk that the net or rope might get caught by the lever and damaged.
In addition to the goal of creating a simple release mechanism, Asano needed to come up with a smoothly shaped design that did not have any protrusions.
"The most difficult challenge was determining how to house the release lever," says Watanabe.
In order to enable the gate to be released with a small amount of force, it was necessary to make the lever long.
The problem with this, however, was that if the lever was long, the part had to protrude.
"In order to solve this problem, we had to carefully determine the attachment position of the lever.
At the same time, by enabling the end of the lever to be housed within the body, we were successful at preventing the gate from being released unintentionally.
Furthermore we adjusted the roundness of corners and the finish of the surface many times to achieve perfection of the product."
"Tsubamesanjo, Niigata known for producing casting professionals"
In 1969, we built a new factory and commenced full-scale steel casting.
Initially we were manufacturing products such as harnesses.
In 1977, realizing at that time that there were no special manufacturers producing stainless steel fishing gear, we began manufacturing and selling this equipment.
We had to begin by observing actual sites. Planning and development was initiated by visiting a range of fishing grounds where we gained firsthand knowledge of users' needs.
The types of requests we received from work sites were extremely diverse, and developing ideas involved a series of hardships.
Nevertheless, we constantly discover new needs and create products in response to them.
Asano's style and approach to our work has not changed since we began manufacturing products.
◇As a stainless steel expert
"There are various kinds stainless steel," explains Suzuki, a member of the Design and Purchase Division.
For many years, while learning about the characteristics of stainless steel, we have been planning and developing a range of products including those used in areas of civil engineering fields such as stainless steel handrails, in addition to fishing gear. "The strength and corrosion resistance characteristics of stainless steel differ greatly depending on the ratio of components and the heat treatment method used.
For example, there are some types of stainless steel with high resistance to ocean water, and other types with a high degree of hardness.
The ongoing challenge is to create a material that has extreme strength and does not rust."
With extensive knowledge and experience cultivated over many years at Asano's own casting factory, the company develops products by selecting the optimal material for the intended environment and usage conditions.
"For example, for an 'Auto Shackle,' which has to be small and light, material with a high degree of strength is selected, and for the two parts that make up a 'Purse Snap Shackle,' strong materials and materials that have high corrosion resistance are used respectively. By choosing the type of stainless steel that has characteristics best suited to the intended usage demands of the product, we can produce the best products," says Suzuki.
◇Perfect relationship between fishing gear and casting
Casting is a process where metal is melted, poured into a mold, and hardened into the required shape.
It is no exaggeration to say that this processing method, the technology of which Asano has been developing over many years, is most suitable for manufacturing fishing gear.
"Rounded parts that are created by casting can reduce abrasion of ropes and nets that come in contact with our products. Furthermore, by making the parts that need to be strong even stronger and optimizing the weight of other parts by taking design into consideration, it becomes possible for us to manufacture products that are lightweight and of sufficient strength, and better still, at a reasonable price," says Suzuki.
"In fact, there are parts that cannot be manufactured by casting. Depending on the product, the forging technology that can create a higher degree of strength than casting may also need to be applied. By applying the 3D and solid figure design using a 3D printer, we explore the best solution from all perspectives such as those involving designs, materials, and processing. It takes time, but this is Asano's manufacturing method."
Hello everyone. It is our great pleasure to present this newsletter.
We launched "ASANO Newsletter" in April 2017 in order to deliver the latest information from Asano Metal Industry Co., Ltd. to those who are interested in our business. This is the first issue.
Asano Metal Industry Co., Ltd. was founded in Sanjo city, Niigata prefecture, Japan in 1944 and has been developing stainless steel fishing gear since 1977.
By introducing the technologies and ideas we have built up over the last 40 years, we hope that we will be able to contribute to your business.
We would appreciate it if you could spare some time during your workday to read this newsletter, perhaps during your break.
Kazushi Asano, Overseas Project Division, Asano Metal Industry Co., Ltd.