Toshikazu Hasegawa, President of EKO Instruments Co., Ltd.
Celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017, EKO Instruments Co., Ltd. is a top runner in the area of developing and manufacturing many kinds of instruments designed for measuring data of the environment and weather. In order to solve problems which were recently covered in the media, such as environmental problems, abnormal weather, and renewable energy, they are thoroughly pursuing the accuracy, which is the basis of the measuring equipment, and pushing them ahead to greater heights. We interviewed Toshikazu Hasegawa, President of EKO Instruments, about their efforts toward continuing challenges.
The history of EKO Instruments dates back to 1927. Mr. Hasegawa's grandfather founded the company as an import agent dealing with European scientific instrumentation. He introduced overseas academic materials and equipment to Japan and was trusted by domestic researchers. As a result of deepening exchanges with researchers, he decided to support the commercialization of technologies that were invented by them. Mr. Hasegawa says that such industry-academia collaboration established the foundation of the company.
The turning point was a development of Japan’s first dome pyranometer in 1955 with the request of the Japan Meteorological Agency. It is an equipment that measures the radiant energy emitted by the sun on the earth's surface. "Even in outdoors and harsh environments, our equipment is required to provide precise values 365 days a year. I’m sure that our technology was improved by confronting high-level challenges. Currently, our rotating pyranometer, which is a patented product, is being introduced to AMeDAS observation network.”
They also succeeded in developing a spectroradiometer, which was designed for measuring radiant energy from the sun by wavelength, while pyranometer measures the total amount of radiant energy from the sun. There are many needs for spectroradiometers because everything, such as vegetation as well as textiles, plastics, and car paintings, is affected by wavelengths.
EKO Instruments has made steady progress in the market as a company developing and manufacturing in-house products, and as a general sales agent importing and selling overseas products with high reliability since its foundation.
In recent years, they have been focusing on the development of water vapor LIDAR with Tokyo Metropolitan University through industry-academia collaboration. "In order to predict abnormal weather including unexpected strong rain and large typhoon, it is important to accurately measure the water vapor distribution in the sky. We are jointly carrying out research by collaborating with Tokyo Metropolitan University.”
Alongside the challenge of new fields, they also regard enhancement of existing products as an important issue. "The latest pyranometer can measure the speed of light in 0.5 seconds. We succeeded in developing the pyranometer with the world's best performance at low cost. Our goal is to create products that can make measurement more accurately and more quickly with low cost. As well as the need for robustness, there is also a need for reduction in size even if the equipment would be disposable. We would like to respond to various requests with flexibility.”
They have opened large-scale photovoltaic power stations in Ami Town, Ibaraki Prefecture (EKO Ami Solar Park) in 2013, and then in Inashiki City, Ibaraki Prefecture (EKO Inashiki Solar Park) in 2015. They are pursuing further possibilities of solar energy through collection of basic data regarding weather, power generation, and evaluation of solar cells.
Photovoltaic power stations (EKO Ami Solar Park) located in Ami Town, Ibaraki Prefecture
Mr. Hasegawa says that they respect the enterprising spirit as a company motto. "New technologies and ideas are important for developing scientific instrumentation. For that reason, we always try to look half a step forward.”
Mr. Hasegawa explains that Tokyo is the best place for their corporate culture of valuing enterprising spirit than anywhere else in Japan, since people, goods, and information are readily available. “The basis of communication is to talk face to face with people. Since industry-academia collaboration plays an important role in our business, Tokyo is the best environment with easy access to many universities.”
Based in Tokyo, EKO Instruments supports the problem solving on a global scale. Their delicate yet bold challenges are attracting great attention from Japan and abroad.