Nabtesco has integrated its component and system technologies focusing on “motion control,” and works to develop high-precision control devices and driving units. Based on the relations of trust we have built with customers, who are advanced companies themselves, we are shifting the focus of our business from the sales of component products to the provision of solutions, while identifying the sophisticated needs of customers and enhancing our existing technologies. To this end, we are working to create new products and businesses, including mechatronic products and systems.
To reach the aforementioned aim, Nabtesco is implementing a range of initiatives, including promoting joint research with universities and research institutes across the wolrd, driving co-creation with start-up firms through corporate venture capital, and fostering M&A. Moreover, we opened the Nabtesco R&D Center in the Kyoto Research Park located in the city of Kyoto (Japan), around where the universities and the research institutes collect. At the Center, we foster collaboration with external organizations such as companies and universities based on the concept of open innovation. Through these measures, we will further adopt diversified technologies, speed up our development process, and develop global human capital for R&D, thereby promoting the creation of new products and businesses.
Nabtesco has been achieving further growth by accumulating technologies and know-how. We have made this achievement with each of our business departments supporting customers in developing their products based on our motion control technology for stopping and moving with precision.
Recently, in response to the diversification and sophistication of customer needs, we have been focusing more on developing and proposing mechatronic products and systems with a view to increasing our growth opportunities, in addition to supplying single components and services for which we have competitive advantages. Further, we are now expected to supply products and services that provide a preventive function through monitoring, in addition to the “stopping and moving" functions.
To meet these needs, the Nabtesco Group is accelerating measures to provide customers with a broader variety of value under the leadership of the Technology and R&D Division, and is fostering comprehensive measures to produce innovations.
One of the missions of the Technology and R&D Division is to technically support each business department in implementing measures for sustainable growth. To this end, the Division is working to acquire advanced development methodologies, element technologies and know-how ahead of competitors and to share them with the business departments across a range of fields for product development progress. Nabtesco has been making proactive use of computer- aided engineering (CAE) and additive manufacturing (AM) as ITbased development and design tools.
In the CAE field, the Division is making fluid analysis to analyze the flows of air and oil, and is also making advanced analysis by combining structural analysis on strength and heat resistance with flow analysis. In addition, the Division is simulating manufacturing processes and sharing advanced analysis technologies widely with the business departments to make their development and manufacturing processes more efficient. In the AM field, we are making use of the know-how of CMET Inc. This Nabtesco Group company provides customers with 3D printers that use resin-based high-speed stereolithography technology. We are thus pressing forward with the development of metal additive manufacturing technology including peripheral element technologies and using these innovative technologies for manufacturing innovation in the aircraft equipment business.
Furthermore, in response to the rapid advancement of IoT and AI, we are enhancing our sensing technologies. Combining the monitoring of products by sensors with the analysis of big data makes the diagnosis of failures possible. This helps us add the monitoring function to the stopping and moving functions provided by our products, allowing us to provide high value-added products and expand the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business.
Nabtesco is fostering open innovation. We will efficiently expand our technology and product lineups and search for new business opportunities by jointly developing technologies with companies and research institutes in and outside Japan.
Our core open innovation base is the Nabtesco R&D Center (RDC), which was newly established within the Kyoto Research Park (KRP) in 2017 by transferring the departments of the Technology and R&D Division located at the Kobe Plant. At the RDC we are making use of the power of KRP as an innovation hub housing around 400 companies, while proactively conducting R&D activities through industry-academia collaboration with both domestic and overseas companies and universities.
Furthermore, we are collaborating with the ETHZ of Switzerland to build a power electronics-related theory and develop a prototype and also starting a joint research project to develop a motion control system. Through such cooperation with both domestic and foreign research institutes, we are aiming to achieve results in R&D in leading-edge technological fields while also developing personnel versed in global technological trends.
The Technology and R&D Division makes recommendations and supports in-house companies to help meet their challenges and develop necessary human capital with the aim of eventually improving manufacturing quality to the industry’s top level in each business field. The Division supports the development activities of the in-house companies by using IT-based technologies, including computer-aided engineering (CAE), digital engineering (DE), 3D printing technologies and its unique material technology. Through simulations made at the initial product development stage, the Division helps the in-house companies make prior verifications in a precise manner. In addition to this “front-loading type” of development support, it also supports in-house companies in human capital development and other development activities by providing electronics and sensor technologies. Moreover, it formulates and implements intellectual property strategies to increase the company’s competitiveness and protect its intellectual rights and associated benefits in all business segments.
The Division searches for the seeds of business, including market needs and technological seeds and engages in various development projects. The Division conducts joint research with both domestic and overseas universities, research institutes, and companies on multiple development themes to develop high-level technologies in a timely manner. Nabtesco R&D Center works on the creation of new businesses through a wide range of intra-industry and industry-academia collaborations, taking an open innovation approach
Recently, great progress has been made on a range of machines in terms of energy conservation and product life longevity, which is said to be attributable to the advancement of surface treatment and heat treatment technologies. The Division proactively introduces the most advanced of these base technologies and verifies their effectiveness in laboratories, discloses the results internally, and applies the technologies to individual products and components in cooperation with the in-house companies. As competitors in emerging countries are catching up with us technologically, we are enhancing the base technologies and transforming them into “black box” technologies so that it will be difficult to imitate them. We are thus making efforts to maintain and increase our product competitiveness.
In March 2017, Nabtesco acquired OVALO GmbH of Germany. The purpose of the acquisition is to make use of the company’s ability to develop motor control unit integrated products, thereby accelerating the transformation of Nabtesco’s products into systems and mechatronic products, which are indispensable to meeting the increasingly diversified and sophisticated needs of customers.
Also, adcos GmbH, which is a subsidiary of OVALO and is now one of Nabtesco’s consolidated subsidiaries, has the model-based development technology that provides the basis for the development of mechatronic products. We will make effective use of this know-how to dramatically increase our development efficiency and quality.
The acquisition represents the first M&A project led by the Technology and R&D Division. We will utilize the advanced technologies owned by OVALO and adcos across business fields to generate maximum synergy within the Group to create new businesses.
3D printer technology is advancing from the stage of rapid prototyping (RP) to that of additive manufacturing (AM). Nabtesco has made the Nabtesco R&D Center for its 3D printer-related technologies, and has equipped the Nabtesco R&D Center with a metal 3D printer as well as a resin 3D printer (stereolithography equipment) for which CMET, a Nabtesco Group company, has know-how. We are conducting R&D activities by using the printers as the innovative production technology that drives manufacturing innovation along with the use of peripheral element technologies. We also plan to input resources in the development of materials to support the base technologies.
In collaborative R&D with Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) in Switzerland on power electronics, we have made progress not only in theory-building, but also in prototype development and presented our results on environmental energy generators with new methods as well as sensor technologies at several international symposiums. We also filed patent applications. In FY2018, we started joint research with ETH on the development of a motion control system as a new theme.
In June 2018, Nabtesco established Nabtesco Technology Ventures AG (NTV) in Zurich, Switzerland, which will lead the corporate venture capital (CVC) activities. In addition, we have established a strategic partnership regarding the CVC activities with Emerald Technology Ventures.
NTV supports co-creation between start-up firms and the Nabtesco Group through investment in start-up firms, aiming to globally accelerate open innovation. Emerald will provide services from innovation scouting and transaction structuring, to portfolio management.
Through this strategic cooperation, NTV will acquire Emerald's two decades of experience in corporate venturing, its global presence across the US and Europe, and know-how on corporate value creation. By using a synergy effect created between Emerald's ability to foresee technologies and markets, accessibility to start-up firms investment opportunities, and track records in portfolio management and the Group's value chain, including technical capabilities and customer bases, the Group will establish a business portfolio that incorporates innovative technologies of the start-up firms through which we will promote co-creation.
NTV promotes joint development and other co-creation with start-up firms that have the following technologies and will continuously invest in them:
Nabtesco has been shaping its motion control technology under the tag line “moving it. Stopping it.” to provide customers with high-precision and high-efficiency products. In the future, we will enhance our sensor technology to expand the solutions that enable preventive maintenance by combining the use of functions to monitor products and their surrounding environments with big data analysis for the diagnosis of failures. We will thereby provide high value-added products while enhancing the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business.
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