Tokyo auto parts maker diversifies risk with urban farming experiment

TOKYO – With the automotive market fast shifting towards electric powered automobiles, which call for much less elements than gasoline-powered vehicles, a Tokyo-based manufacturer of truck factors has entered the discipline of city farming.

Otsuka Tekko firm began developing veggies indoors with synthetic light in an effort and hard work to diversify its enterprise, as the outlook for the producing aspect of the company is becoming more and more unsure.

The business has been rising lettuce and basil on multi-tiered shelves lit by LED lights in an experimental cultivation house. By switching place temperature, humidity and gentle intensity, the company is making an attempt to obtain the ideal approach to cultivate the very best-tasting veggies.

“Vegetable cultivation has a ton in common with production,” said Otsuka Tekko president Akihiro Otsuka. Established in 1939, the company manufactures iron parts and components applied in vehicles and construction equipment.

Truck areas, generally motor-related elements these as transmissions, account for 70% of the firm’s profits. But with big automakers ramping up manufacturing of EVs amid a drive for decarbonization, the firm is worried that orders could inevitably evaporate.

Otsuka, 39, commenced exploring opportunities in other industries about two yrs ago. “There is certainly no way of being aware of when a big shift will come about in an marketplace. You could be wiped out quickly if you just go with the circulation.”

His problems ended up heightened when the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a decline in orders from significant firms, and suspended deliveries bumped up the costs of raw elements and electricity.

The firm’s indoor cultivation place takes advantage of sensors to command practically 20 parameters, together with temperature, humidity and nutrient concentration. The manufacturer also makes use of sensors to monitor the status of gear in the principal spot of enterprise, and Otsuka considered this sort of knowledge could be applied in urban farming.

The firm saw potential in indoor farming since it is not affected by weather conditions conditions, and veggies can be grown without pesticides. Its spot in a key usage region was also considered as an gain.

In March, Otsuka founded the subsidiary Farm Haneda, which will function the facility, with entire-scale cultivation planned by all around spring 2023. The company will open a retail space on the very first floor of the making and hopes to establish sales partnerships with supermarkets and other vendors in Tokyo.

“We are hoping the city farm turns into a pillar of the business that can make up for probable declines in the producing side of the business enterprise,” Otsuka reported.

Katherine T. Burrows

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