Kawasaki is a brand synonymous with performance motorcycles, winning World Championships across multiples disciplines and routinely taking top honours in consumer bike tests. Founded in 1896, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. not only leads the way in two-wheeled technology, but also in the fields of ship building, robotics, aerospace and locomotive.
Motorcycles, such as the Kawasaki Ninja H2, frequently draw on learnings and knowledge from across Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ sectors to showcase the incredible talent and technology available.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR powered Jonathan Rea to an unprecedented three WorldSBK World Championships in a row, the result of years of evolution and refinement of the Ninja range. Kawasaki’s ship building arm has undergone equally impressive development during their existence. Kawasaki made its first ship, the Iyo-Maru, in 1897 weighing in at a modest 727 tonnes.
Now ships built by Kawasaki weigh in at 160292 Tonnes, the Katsuragisan is a truly revolutionary ship - a crude oil tanker built by Kawasaki in 2005. She is 33m long and 6m wide and is still in service plying her trade around the globe. Kawasaki ships have not only grown bigger, but the shipbuilding process has also become more refined and automated to facilitate these new mega-ships such as the Katsuragisan. The first ships were hand built but now most of the fabrication, welding and movement of parts is computer controlled. To see where Katsuragisan is right now log on to marinetraffic.com.
Much of this automation has come from the Robot Division. In 1969 Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. created the first industrial robot in Japan. Since then Kawasaki has become a leading robot manufacturer using state-of-the-art technology and drawing upon over 45 years of experience. The Robot Division has its headquarters in Akashi, Japan but also has many offices and service centres and facilities worldwide. The range of tasks that robots can perform is immense, some are: arc welding, assembly. work in cleanroom environments, machine tending, material handling, paint spraying, palletising, dispensing.
Kawasaki strives to be at the forefront of every area, from racing to transport and SWIMO is evidence of current research. Equipped with the high capacity, fully sealed nickel-metal hydride Kawasaki Gigacell batteries, SWIMO can eliminate the need for power supply lines while offering the spacious comfort of a truly modern low-floor light rail vehicle (LRV). One clever innovation is trackside power harvesters that gather the energy used to slow one SWIMO at a passenger stop and store it ready to be uploaded to the next vehicle leaving the same stop.
From bikes to planes and trains, Kawasaki has been leading development across multiple areas for decade. A quest for speed and safety is central to Kawasaki Heavy Industries' work and researcg, as shown with the Shinkansen (new trunk line) high-speed train, built between 1997 and 2006, entering service in 1999. They formed a crucial phase of Shinkansen vehicle development jointly designed by JR (Japanese railways) Central and JR-West for use on both Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines. The 700 series is characterized by its flat 'duck-bill' nose designed to reduce the piston effect as the trains enter tunnels at speeds up to 180mph. Built in Kawasaki’s Hyogo works, the 700 series are scheduled to be withdrawn from Tokaido Shinkansen services by the end of 2019.
Kawasaki began research into jet propulsion in 1943 with an experimental pulse jet unit, the Ne-0. Then, in 1954, Kawasaki launched an overhaul business for jet engines. Since that time, Kawasaki has grown massively in the aircraft engine sector including the domestic production of helicopter engines and participation in the international joint development of jet engines with such industry giants as Rolls-Royce for use in commercial aircraft.