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Nikon moves body mount production to Notion VTEC

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After the initial news that Nikon is planning to move part of its production outside Japan, Notion VTEC announced yesterday that they will start manufacturing Nikon camera mounts immediately. The raw materials will be supplied by Nikon, the finished mounts will then be transported to Thailand for assembly. Notion's understanding is that this is a long term solution.

Here are the parts of the announcement that refer to Nikon:

2. Nikon's SLR camera and Interchangeable Lens main production and assembly operations are based in Nikon Thailand plant in Ayuthaya but supply of components are from both in-house as well as external approved vendors. Notion Thailand, Ayuthaya and Notion Venture Sdn Bhd, Klang ("Notion" or "Notion, Klang") are both supplying cam barrels and other camera parts to Nikon Thailand.

3. Amongst Nikon's in-house supply vendor will be Sendai Nikon Corporation, Natori, Miyagi and this plant is affected by the event and it manufactures the high end SLR camera body as well as body and lens mount. The body and lens mount are metallic mating surfaces for the lens to be attached to the camera body and are high volume parts typically in the hundreds of thousand per month.

4. As a contingency plan, Notion, Klang will be supplied with raw materials from Nikon for the production of the body mount with immediate effect. Notion is preparing jigs & fixtures and utilizing existing CNC machines to produce these precision components. Hard chrome surface treatment will be out sourced to a surface treatment company. The finished body mount components will be trucked to the customer's plant in Thailand for assembly. We expect this new business to contribute between RM36 million to RM60 million in sales per year.

6. The understanding is that this relocation will be long term.

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  • plug

    Nikon are being pro-active. Well done them. This can only help their workforce back home.

    • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

      Agreed. This is actually a pretty quick and major move forward in the face of a crisis.

      Why can’t they do this when there isn’t a disaster? :-x

      • kururu

        japanese people need a job too

        • Paul

          +1

      • BornOptimist

        Remember, Nikon made an investment in this company in January, so this is probably something that’s not related to the recent disaster, but something that was planned some time ago.
        Also a deal like this is not negotiated and signed in one week.

        • http://ronscubadiver.wordpress.com Ron Scubadiver

          Agree completely. There is no way this could have happened in the last week. Besides, this stuff is going to Thailand, so it will not have much effect on pro lens production which is halted in Japan.

        • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

          I think this is move is 100% caused by the disaster, see their entire press release.

          • DarkNikon

            Yes the move is caused by disaster but this is probably part of their disaster recovery and business continuity planning which is already in place earlier

          • BornOptimist

            As it’s stated in the press release, this is ADDED revenue of 36 to 60RM, not that this is a new business relationship. They are already a Nikon lens mount manufacturer. So it looks like Nikon is not moving manufacturing, just increasing orders, and that can very well be a result of the disaster.
            If you read the press release from January 2010, Nikon says why they invest in Notion.

    • venancio

      makes you kind of wonder if nikon has shipped out to other warehouses finished prototypes of D4 gear they “recovered” from sendai before they will glow in the dark… they can call it the limited edition… the ones that will have the Made Outside of Japan can be called something else… hoping the winter elements can coold down those runaway reactors and the elements of human sacrifice will let determination prevail over hopelessness…

      • TJV

        Such insensitive comments should be kept to yourself. If you value a new D4 over human life and safety for millions of people, you really need help. What is happening in Japan is no joke, on any level.

        • venancio

          excuse me? can’t this sink in to your senses “the elements of human sacrifice will let determination prevail over hopelessness”? the topic of this forum is now “moving forward- on what Nikon is doing on manufacturing concerns”… boy, oh boy, how shallow are the manifestations of some mortals when one can’t add to a topic on gears…

          • Simon

            Agree. This is a camera forum for goodness sake. If sheeples want to cry sentiment thoughts about natural disasters they should do it on the countless numbers of forum devoted to headline grabbing tabloid news. If anyone arent that interested in cameras and prefer to discuss about the earthquake aftermath and its effect on victims they shouldnt be posting here.

            • venancio

              yeah, they have to man up and mature up… or else they’d end up telling the Admin not to publish anything on Nikon efforts to provide photographers their needs in spite of the tragedy, while photographers and enthusiasts will support Nikon towards business recovery by buying Nikon products…

            • TJV

              Apologies, I misread your original post. It was late and I was confused by your phrasing.

  • http://galleries.gorji.com Gorji

    Well done.

  • http://galleries.gorji.com Gorji

    Well done Nikon. In order to make Yens, production moves.

  • broxibear

    Hmmm…so are the D800 and D4 bodies going to be stamped with “Made in Thailand” ?

    • Adam

      I certainly hope not.

      Eventhough so far Thailand has been doing a good job assembling the D300 series, it still sucks buying a high end product (don’t forget the price) from a Japanese company and ends up only with a Made in Thailand label.

      I know it will still not affect the quality but it’s definitely a bummer since all this while the Dx and Dxxx(FX) bodies are Made in Japan

      • CRojas

        So, you want your body marked “Made in Japan” even though is going to be made in Thailand, I can sell you a sticker for fifty bucks.

        • Adam

          erm, that’s not what I meant

        • broxibear

          I think you can get those stickers online, the same place is selling Leica stickers to Fuji X100 owners lol ?
          But seriously…I’m sure the Nikon standards will be met irrespective of where it’s made, but it will interesting to see what the sticker says.

          • Exxo

            Some people are just true to “This product comes from Japan” sort of thing. They have a collection, and want their collection to continue being a japanese line of product. You wouldn’t want Leica to start stamping their products “Made in *NAME OF OTHER COUNTRY” suddenly, you realize it’s not the same people who made it.

            I know, we are probably awful people for thinking the people of Thailand can’t make a good camera, the problem is, we see it as “The DX bodies come from there, why should FX be subject to the same treatment?” It’s not a sticker thing, it’s a production thing.

            • w

              what a load of rubbish!
              look a some of the junk that has ‘made in japan’ stamped on it.
              (some of the lesser canons for instance).
              Those who predicate their buying on country of origin rather than ability of equipment are nothing more than fools, no matter what they say.

      • R R

        I wont mind if my D800 is stamped made in Thailand, as long as I have my warranty and I trust Nikon will do well regarding quality control.

        • ob1

          if it’s made in thailand will it bring the prices down? please say yes.

        • I_still_want_a_d800

          Put it this way, been waiting since early 2010 for a D800 (or whatever 20+MP body with video) , by now I don’t mind whereever the D800 is made, as long as I can buy one I would be happy.

          • Exxo

            I know how you feel, It’s been over a YEAR waiting, and I just want to get pickup a D800 or D4 (the amount of time waited, I can go for a D4…thanks Nikon! :D ) But honestly, It’s like buying a Leica and finding out its not made in japan…Or a Mercedes….finding out its not made in Germany, it’s made in Tennessee! (the only American Mercedes plant) It’s not saying “These people don’t know how to make a product” It’s “this didn’t come from where the name was born…

            • NoFunBen

              Mercedes are made in 23 countries.
              All things are going this way.

            • Iorick

              Sorry but fortunately Leica is not made in Japan! (nor ever been!) And it doesn’t matters where the cameras are made, since they quality control remains on Nikon’s hands! Better be Thai, then buy a camera wich special novelty is to glow in the dark (maybe will imrpove high Iso?). It’s just like to buy a Candian Leica Lenses! :-)

          • JR

            I don’t mind where it is made because I trust that Nikon will make sure they keep with their standards. My D70 was made in Thailand and it still works like new! I’ll be happy to get the D800 made in Thailand. It doesn’t matter any more.

    • joey

      “Japan” is the brand name.

    • suomynonA

      Does it really matter? Is it the only measure of quality. As an example, my D300 body looked more robust than my D70o. Though it doesn’t mean anything about functioning, its rubber coverings around the grip & multi-dial area tend to peel off, but the D300 was still like the first day bought. It could be though because of its previous owners’ holding, (since I bought D300 new but D700 2nd hand).

      Won’t the Japanese executives and QC staff remain in the factory wherever production is performed? What’s the difference then?

  • Nicholas Lee

    Well… I stay in Malaysia :D Infact I stay in Klang. Does it means that some Nikon products might be cheaper?

    • CRojas

      I don’t think so, at least in the short term. The cost of relocating production will be high.

    • Adam

      Don’t think it will affect the final product prices since according to the news, Notion will only fabricate the camera mount

      • BornOptimist

        Also manufacturing this lens mount is almost 100% machinetime, and a Tecno Wasino NC-lathe does the same job in Malaysia as it does in Japan.
        Since Nikon supply the raw material, I don’t see ANY reason why this should be of any less quality.

        • Adam

          In this case yeah, cuz it will be fully CNC operated.

  • ygh

    Who really cares where it is made? The only thing we should care about if it is made in our own country or not and that is pretty much unheard of these days.

    As long as the quality control is good and no corners are cut I don’t care where mine is assembled.

    • Torben

      You are getting cheated if you are paying full price for pro gear that are made outside Japan, period!.

      Some DO care where things are made, would you buy a genuine Rolex watch made in India?, hmm… you probably would.

      • http://dds-pictures.blogspot.com Ddatta

        Yes, I would too . . . but my D300 says “Made in Thailand” and the Panasonic Lens on my Panny G1 says “Made in Japan” !!

        Just to complicate matters . . . both the Jaguar and Land Rover marques are owned by the Indian Tata Group and Merc has a manufacturing facility in Pune, India and most of the softwares we use are written by Indians in India !!

        All said… I wish my D300 was made in Japan !!!

      • Sahaja

        These days a label like “made in Japan” or “made in USA” is not all that meaningful. In most instances a company just has to a tiny bit of final assembly in a country to say it is “made in” that country.

        For instance if I produce belts I can have the leather belt made in India and the buckles also made in India – if I stitch that buckle to the leather belt in Italy or the US the belt suddenly becomes “made in Italy” or “made in the USA” – not “made in India”

        For clothes all you may have to do is sew on buttons or sometimes even just a label.

        For a camera they could probably make everything outside of Japan and say just attach the lens mount to the camera, insert the battery and do the final packaging in Japan – and the camera can probably legally be labelled “Made in Japan”

        • Mark V

          ^ this

  • Ole

    I don’t see why the move is long-term. Nikon needs to support it’s Japanese workers by letting them return to their jobs, once the clean-up of Japan has come to an end.

    So I hope this move does not affect any Japanese jobs.

    • BornOptimist

      It’s long term because Nikon bought 10% of this company in January.

      • BornOptimist

        actually it was in January 2010…

    • Geoff_K

      you mean all the Chinese workers that came over and have now left. ;- >

  • Jon

    I think we may have seen the last of Nikon cameras made in Japan. There has been pressure to outsource already, and with the obvious addition of a long recovery from a terrible tragedy, it could be that all camera manufacture will eventually be moved outside of Japan. The Apple computer that I am now typing on is made in China, and excellent in quality, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.
    On the other hand, once the existing cache of D3s cameras are gone, they may be gone for good.

    • mshi

      Nothing is MADE in China and Thailand because those are only ASSEMBLED there thanks to their great slave labor pool. Foxconn, the Taiwanese assembly company, has over one million slave workers alone in China.

      • Exxo

        CRTC, and Federal Trade Commission agreed back in the early 80′s or 90′s
        Final Assembly of the product is one or is the most important part of creating a product. Nikon creates parts in Japan, thats great, but it doesnt mean anything if people think “Thailand can’t put together a decent camera” Let people think what they want to think, you can only judge a product after its made. all the DX cameras were good, the D7000 has been performing prettywell. I have seen the same issues with FX and DX, but nothing that makes DX Aweful..havent seen anything fallen apart because of ‘bad assembly’

        ALL parts would come from japan, thats fine, but the final assembly = the sticker name.

        • mshi

          Thanks for the enlightenment. For your stated reasons, Apple, Inc. has decided to print “Assembled in China” instead of “Made in China” on their products.

        • Simon

          Except that future Nikon parts will be made in Thailand and not from Japan.

          • PHB

            What does it matter which country the CNC milling machines etc are working in?

      • Geoff_K

        At least they have a job. Sometimes slave labor beats starving to death.

  • The invisible man

    So now there is BEFORE and AFTER earthquake Nikon cameras.
    Of course the BEFORE earthquake camera/lens will keep a higher value.
    :o

    • jorgen

      it´s only the mounts, which are made by machine, still highprecision-work, but more on the machine-side, as already pointed out.
      the highly skilled workforce, that assembles the pro-bodies is in japan and cannot be moved that easy. that assemblywork in sendai is more manual-labor oriented and there live the people with ages of expertise in cameramaking.

      this news is a good token, that nikon is moving on, but concerning the pro-bodies and pro-lenses i don´t see any news here at all.

      news just came in, that nuclear pollution around fukushima is spreading, groundwater polluted, so the whole area will be kind of dangerous for many years to come.

      don´t want to sound too gloomy, but this is far from being over yet. imagine to bad jokes to come in the next years about cameras and lenses from the nuclear-land… what a tragedy. again all the best to the people of japan!

      ps: where are those pentax645 and small mamiya mediumformat-cameras made? this branch should see some good sales if there comes a shortage of supply in the 35-mm-pro-league of lenses and bodies.

    • Patrick

      Until they become “obselete” after two generations. Lenses, maybe.

  • FX DX

    My D90 is made in Thailand. I have been using it for roughly 2 years now. Not a single problem. It’s a champ.

    I am saving my money to upgrade to FX camera later this year. I have confidence in Nikon and I am sure it will maintain its quality in Thailand and Malaysia.

    • The invisible man

      If the D800/900 ever been release !

      I’m like you, plenty good lenses (14-24mm, 24-70mm, 105mm, 300mm) and I’m wating for the right body.

      The D700 is great (I had one) but 12Mp is really low, when I do macro work I take picture a little far away to gain DOP, so, croping from a 12Mp sensor…..

      A D700 with 18-24MP would be perfect for me.

      • mshi

        Hasselblad H4D-60 should work for your workflow.

      • Geoff_K

        I agree with 18ish MP on a D700. As little as I used the video in my D90 they could toss in 720 in a D700 and bump the MP to 18ish and I would be happy IF they kept the current ISO abilities.

      • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

        +1
        A D800 with 24MP with ISO capabilities of D700 would be nice. Would like to use it in DX mode of around 12MP :D

  • Ken Elliott

    >> “Nothing is MADE in China and Thailand because…”

    I guess you’ve been living in a cave since the last century, because China makes a LOT of stuff, and some if it is really high quality.

    I remember when I was a kid, and the phrase “made in Japan” meant “junk”. Companies that make crap tend to go wherever the labor is cheapest. That means any low cost country gets hit with the “poor quality” reputation. However, high quality companies seem to be able to make high quality products almost anywhere. Mercedes, Apple (actually Foxcom), Nikon, Canon, Gitzo, and others seem to be able to make good stuff all over the world, including China.

    I have not been able to tell a difference between country of origion on any Nikon gear. It does make me feel better seeing the “made in Japan” sticker, but that’s all – more of a tradition than anything else. I prefer German Leicas rather than Canadian Leicas, but I’ve never been able to tell a difference.

    • The invisible man

      Compare a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 made in China and a 50mm f/1.4 made in Japan, the difference is real.

      • http://techprolet.com Pavlos

        My Nikon 1.4D is made in China and has served me well for more than 10 years.

        • http://techprolet.com Pavlos

          50mm f/1.4 AF-D, that is :)

          • FX DX

            My 50mm f/1.4 AFS is made in China. No Problems.

            I actually use it a lot more than my gold ring lenses.

      • andyh

        that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison.

        the 1.8d was designed to be a super cheap 50mm for the common man.
        the 1.4d was designed for the prosumer and pro crowd.

        it’s not that the 1.8d was poorly constructed (mine wasn’t), it was designed to be made cheaper for people with lighter wallets (mine sure is).

    • pabs

      While there is no role for xenophobia, there clearly is a difference is culture, standards, overshight and work ethic among various countries. Would you really let your babies drink milk formula produced in China (ie, melamine) or play with toys painted in China (ie, lead)?

      • mshi

        But the Chinese government says small amount of Melamine is good for your health. They also serve you their plastic rice, which is made of industrial resin and starch from potatoes.

    • mshi

      Again, there is a big difference between Made and Assembled. For example, I just received Paul Buff’s Vagabond Mini Lithium battery pack and it says Made in USA. But, when I take the cover off, the entire battery thing says Made in China. When I take its cover off, it says Made in Japan. WTF. Which country is made in, bitchez.

  • NikoDoby

    “VTEC Just Kicked In Yo!”

  • Gordon

    Good news for consumers but I hope this doesn’t mean Japanese workers end up without a job considering what they are going through recently.

    It be a pretty big kick to to the teeth to not only loose your home and loved ones, but then find you have lost your job because your employer has decided to fast-track it’s outsourcing operations.

    • Merv

      I’m reading that camera mount manufacturing is being sent out of Japan, but I didn’t see anything about the professional lenses

      I also understand that there is a shortage of the telephoto primes, there may well be enough work for the Sendai factory only making pro lenses…in a few months time when Japan will hopefully have a better grasp of what is needed for its recovery.

    • mshi

      No, they will retire to Hawaii celebrating their Golden Years.

  • decemberlight

    Go Take Some Pictures.

  • Anonymus Maximus

    My understanding of the press release is a bit different.
    It says that parts for the existing manufacturing in Thailand have been partly sourced from Japan. I understand that those will now be completely manufactured outside Japan.
    That means that the D3100 ,D7000 and D5100 production is less disrupted.

    I do not read full assembly of the pro models being shifted to Thailand anywhere?

    It makes a lot of sense from a management point of view. They fix first what can be fixed with the least effort or change. And they fix first where the volume is.

  • Some Thoughts

    Good for Nikon to adjust so quickly; that’s the sign of a company built to last. In the long run, if Japan is going to get any benefit from Nikon, it has to survive and thrive, and a distributed system of manufacturing will help it to do just that.

  • andyh

    i agree that it’s nice to see a “Made in Japan” on my gear, but in the end, the “Nikon” badge is what carries the true value in my opinion. TEPCO has shown us that even the japanese can suffer from reliability and responsibility.

    good wishes to Nikon and Japan on a speedy recovery

  • Simon

    As I said in my previous post a lot of Japanese manufacturers relied on low pay migrant workers to make the price of their product affordable. Ordinary Japanese are no longer the hard working, long hours, low paid we know of from the 70s and 80s. Today many would rather claim unemployment benefit than take a migrant worker style low pay. Granted Nikon has no factories in China who are the manufacturing hub of the world so all future FX cameras will be made in Malaysia and Thailand. Personally I have yet to see any quality hi tech gears comming out of these countries so there must be concern for quality control. You can move factories but you cant move people, work ethic and logistics. For instance Sony made goods from Japan are often superior and more reliable than goods made outside the country.

  • Mateiu Alexandru

    I hope that the SLR Cameras will remain as good as before!

  • Bruce

    Based upon reports I’m getting from contacts on the ground in Sendai we can forget about a D4, D800, and anything else of much import out of the Sendai facility for the immediate future. Infrastructure damage in the area is way beyond likes of hurricane Katrina and so forth. Toll of dead and missing already 5 times 9/11 and counting. Supply chain damage is significant. There indeed appears to be some damage to Nikon’s facilities and employees in the area are going to have tough time getting to work without fuel and transportation, or food, or in some cases… homes. I’ll be on the ground there myself in 2 weeks and shall update then.

    • broxibear

      Hi Bruce,
      You’re right about the infrastructure damage and how it’ll affect the supply chain, if there were a container full of D800s ready they won’t be going anywhere if there’s no road outside the factory and no ships in what’s left of the port ?
      Calumet in the UK (pro photographic retailer/rental) are the only ones who seemed to acknowledge this really?… http://www.calumetphoto.co.uk/etc/uk/promo/japan.jpg
      If it were just the earthquake and tsunami to damage I’d expect the Japanese to have the major roads and ports running at some sort of level inside 4 months. It’s a very organised and prepared country..the nuclear plant is the unknown part.
      Even in the best case scenario I’d say the D800 and D4 releases will be over 6 months later than scheduled.

      • venancio

        i like your hope of a container full of D800s… during annual planning, i hope one Nikon management guy would have laid out potential problem scenarios including damaged ports and cut-off arteries of roads and routes and came up with the solution of industrial helicopter transport…

        • broxibear

          Hi venancio,
          I don’t think there is any container full of D800s or D4s, I was mearly making a point about infastructure.
          The “big” Nikon announcements were rumpoured for late September this year, add an educated guess of a 6 month delay and you’re at March 2012…that’s a year from now ?
          It wouldn’t surprise me if Nikon release a statement in the next few weeks outlining the problems and delays…lets see ?

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      looking forward for your updates from Sendai Bruce

  • Mark Astle

    You know what? I didn’t even realise my D300 was made in Thailand. I’ve been too busy taking pictures with it. It’s got the Nikon name and quality control on it, I don’t really give a crap where it’s made.

    Toyota have got a factory in Derby here in the UK. Do you think anyone who buys a car from them cares where it’s made? The Japanese are famous for quality control management systems – they bring their expertise and apply it wherever they are.

    • suomynonA

      +1

  • suomynonA

    “The raw materials will be supplied by Nikon”

    From Sendai? Close to the reactor site!

    The D800 bodies may contain nasty radioactive isotopes (plutonium, caesium, etc), so they may reveal as hot pixels at long exposures.

  • Zim

    http://www.adorama.com/ALC/News.aspx?alias=UPDATED-Japan-Photo-Industry-Affected-by-Earthquake-and-Tsunami&utm_source=ET&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=EmailALC030911
    Nikon has confirmed light injuries to some of its employees but no serious or fatal injuries. Nikon’s Sendai factory, which manufactures the D3S, D3X, D700 and F6, has been forced to close due to damage to equipment and buildings. Work at at least three other facilities has been temporarily suspended so the company can assess damage.

    However, due to possible meltdowns at several of Japan’s nuclear reactors, the Japanese government has instituted rolling blackouts, which are disrupting companies even if they were not otherwise affected by the quake or tzunami.

    The tsunami has also destroyed many freighter ships, some of which may have been preparing to ship photographic equipment to destinations around the world. This situation is currently being assessed by the companies, but it is likely there will be shortages of some gear as a result.

    • Dweeb

      Right now NA consumers are buying stock off the shelf so they see no difference. In a few months when JP items disappear that’s when we will find out what’s really going on.

      Of course Nikon won’t be the source of that information other than vague meaningless generalities. PR like “Please be patient there have been interruptions to our manufacturing capability” blah blah blah …

  • Funduro

    I don’t buy “made in China” unless it’s the only place the item is manufactured. I hate the commie government not the Chinese people. Unfortunately many manufactures in China have gotten Doctoral Degrees in cutting corners by switching manufacturing ingredients to make more money for the plant owners. Look at the amount of schools that collapsed from contaminated concrete and missing re-bars during an earthquake, contaminated baby powdered milk, pet food, sheet-rock, children’s toys. My 1997 BMW motorcycle was built in Italy with a Austrian motor, Japanese suspension and carburetors, Spain tires and German parts. My Mini Cooper(BMW) built in England has a Mercedes motor built in Brazil, Czechoslovakian tires, German electronics and frame. Anyone still stuck on the “Made in Japan” label on their cameras are living in the past and have poor coping with change abilities.

  • sgts

    It could have been worse, Nikon could have moved production to Italy.

  • jorgen

    if thailand-plant can operate without sendai-parts, nikon stays in business. good.

    sendai will be out of business for an unknown time, maybe 40 days, maybe a year.

    if i was waiting for an FX-body + i Really needed one, i would buy a D700 or D3s/x tomorrow. good cameras.

    yes, maybe alarmist.maybe still true. low chance, that D4, D800 + D400 will come this year, summer 2012 maybe.
    in 3 weeks, when the last shipments arrive, retail will increase prices and D700 will go up again. if you Really need one, get it now.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kev_ksquared/ Photography?

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this was Honda…VTEC!!! Sorry really off topic.

  • roland

    I think that in the long run, we are all losers as long as all the commercial products we consume aren’t made in our own country.

    Think about it for a minute. See the big picture.

  • D700guy

    All good and well, but wasnt it just a few years ago that Thailand suffered the effects from a large tsunimi too?

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