Shimadzu opens lab, training facility

April 28, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

A Japanese-owned company that makes highly sensitive measuring equipment will hold a grand opening Tuesday for a newly built customer training center at its Columbia plant.

The $5 million, 46,000-square-foot facility at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Inc. contains classrooms, hands-on teaching laboratories, conference rooms, offices, a quality assurance laboratory and warehouse space.

The grand opening begins at 11 a.m. and will feature some the corporation's original scientific instruments from its 119-year history.

Company officials hailed the center as a mark of the company's growing market strength and its dedication to Howard County.

"Shimadzu Corp. is here to stay, and we have a commitment," said Ralph Nesson, training and documentation manager for Shimadzu, which established its Columbia plant in 1975. "This is another strong symbol of our growth during hard times."

In 1992, Shimadzu had net revenues of $37.5 million at its U.S. operations. Last year, that amount had grown to $40 million in net revenues, said Tom McKillip, director of sales and marketing.

Shimadzu makes instruments that measure and analyze trace elements. Customers include the University of Maryland, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute and pharmaceutical manufacturer Abbott Laboratories.

The training center is intended to help the employees of those customers learn how to use Shimadzu's complex equipment.

The center contains six classrooms, one of which features 15 personal computers. Six teaching labs give customers hands-on training, and nearly all of the classrooms are equipped with audiovisual equipment that allows customers to see the same materials that instructors are looking at.

The center also includes a 45-foot by 30-foot room that can be divided into two classrooms; a cafeteria; an executive conference room; and a quality assurance lab where equipment is tested before it is shipped to customers.

It will cost a customer between $500 and $1,000 for each person who takes a course at the center. Each course will run from two to five days.

By the first year of operation, Shimadzu expects about 300 customers to have attended courses. By 1996, the company expects to have trained 1,500 people.

The center now is offering only two-day courses.

"We're starting out a little conservatively," Mr. Nesson said.

Last week, eight scientists and technicians attended the first course at the center. They learned how to use a high performance liquid chromatography system, which identifies different substances in liquids.

This week, nine customers from various organizations and companies, including Chesapeake Biological Labs in Baltimore and the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, attended a two-day seminar.

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