Tokai Carbon Group makes materials and other industrial goods that are used in, or used to make, other industrial products and even consumer goods. Examples include items as diverse as automobiles, steel, electronic components, agricultural equipment, and lithium-ion batteries.
We are a global market leader in products such as graphite electrodes and carbon black. Our customers span a wide array of industries and are located across the globe. Indeed, over half of our sales come from customers in North America, Europe, and Asia. The reliability of our supply capabilities and excellence of our product quality have been critical in making this possible.
As a part of our customers’ supply chains, we work continuously to abide by relevant laws, regulations, and social norms, and strive to minimize the environmental impact of our manufacturing operations.
Diversified Plant Location, Local Production
In the past, Tokai Carbon Group based its production in Asia. In the 1990s, however, we expanded our business territory to the global market. In an effort to add production facilities in various locations, we have taken actions such as establishing a carbon black plant in China in 2004, acquiring the German graphite electrode manufacturer TOKAI ERFTCARBON GmbH in 2005, and acquiring the Canadian carbon black manufacturer Cancarb Limited in 2014. In 2017 and 2018 we also acquired graphite electrode and carbon black manufacturers in North America. These actions have made us a global player with production and sales functions near customers, and the ability to reliably supply high-quality products, in both of these businesses.
Raw material procurement
The main raw materials for the production of carbon black, are creosote oil obtained from the tar distillation process, and FCC bottom oil and ethylene bottom oil, which are obtained from the oil remaining from the refining of petroleum. For graphite electrodes, the main raw materials are a special needle coke from the distillation of tar or the refining of petroleum, and coal tar pitch. For both carbon black and graphite electrodes, there are only a limited number of raw material suppliers, which include tar distillation companies, petroleum refineries, and petrochemical companies. That can pose a challenge in managing costs, but we must do our best to keep raw material costs as stable as possible, so that our customers and all other stakeholders can continue to rely on us.
Going forward, we will persist in our efforts to maintain close relationships with our suppliers, so that we can grow and prosper together with them, and ultimately contribute to the economy.
Supplies of the oils needed to make carbon black and the needle coke that is a key raw material for graphite electrodes are both tightening, even as demand for carbon black and graphite electrodes is rising. In procuring raw materials for carbon black, we select suppliers based on careful considerations of volume, pricing, and raw material types. As for needle coke, procurement of its raw materials is still handled by individual plants. For greater stability in procurement, therefore, we are considering possibilities for creating a centralized procurement system that would cover all of our graphite electrode manufacturing facilities in Japan, the U.S., and Europe.
To provide the products that satisfy our customers, Tokai Carbon Group practices strict quality management in all processes, from the design phase to raw materials procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and sales.
To ensure adherence to our own strict standards, we conduct inspections at every stage from the receipt of raw materials and secondary materials to production, and shipment. We aim to strengthen the Ties of Reliability between company and customer by continuously providing safe, reliable products.
To establish a foundation for quality management, we have obtained the ISO 9001 international quality management certification for all of our manufacturing facilities in Japan. Each plant and office has established quality management systems compliant with ISO 9001, the international quality standard, and continuously conducts activities aimed at improving customer satisfaction.
Based on these activities, we repeatedly apply the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle to ensure we are maintaining the quality levels that satisfy our customers.We also regularly conduct assessments and exchange opinions regarding the effectiveness of our quality management system as part of a unified effort towards quality management by all our plants and offices.
Even as we work continuously to enhance the performance and environmental characteristics of our products, customers keep raising the bar by elevating and adding performance standards they want our products to meet. To address the individual needs of customers that are difficult to address solely with existing technology, we collaborate with customers on R&D activities aimed at realizing customer requirements.
We develop a deep understanding of customer products and businesses, and constantly pursue possibilities for materials that can give rise to industrial innovation. In doing so, we are striving to fulfill customer desires and achieve even greater customer satisfaction.