Virtual Company Presidents’ Roundtable Discussion
Specific Initiatives under the VC System
Ihara: Now, could you describe the specific initiatives of each Business VC and the Group Head Office?
Ozaki: We need to effectively utilize the overseas bases of Aisin Seiki, Aisin AW and Aisin AI to set up an efficient production structure across the entire Powertrain VC. For example, we are considering shifting the roles of personnel and equipment at some of Aisin AI’s overseas production plants from manufacture of manual transmissions to manufacture of automatic transmissions.
In the field of electrification, as a response to the switching demand from automatic transmissions to hybrid transmissions, we are developing a one-motor hybrid transmission, for which demand is currently growing in Europe. This product combines a motor with our existing automatic transmissions and can be manufactured by using the equipment already in place. We will also devise ways to use the same equipment even when there is a change in component by refining our production processes.
For EVs and FCVs, we are forging ahead with development of motors and inverters based on the knowledge we have accumulated in the field of hybrid transmissions. Aisin Seiki and Aisin AW had separately developed motors and inverters in the past, but we consolidated development resources into Aisin AW two years ago and have thus strengthened our development structure.
Ihara: Does it mean that the development process, which had been undertaken solely by Aisin AW, has become a task of the entire Powertrain VC?
Ozaki: Yes, and it also means we have more options now. Over the medium to long term, electrification and other changes in vehicles will also entail changes in powertrains; therefore, one of our important action themes is how we envision our future in response to such changes.
Ihara: Besides development and production, are there any other collaborative efforts, for example, in sales activities?
Ozaki: We just started collaborative sales activities and have asked sales personnel of each company to think about what approach we should take in order to encourage customers to use the products of the AISIN Group. The entire Powertrain VC is exploring ways to deliver excellent products, not just powertrains alone but as a system encompassing everything from engines to transmissions.
Chassis & Vehicle Safety System VC
Ihara: The Chassis & Vehicle Safety System VC handles brakes and everything that relates to operating, turning and stopping. What are your specific initiatives?
Ogiso: Currently, we are promoting the sharing of information on each VC, its tasks and the business environment and working to determine the direction our full-scale efforts should pursue. While doing so, we have decided to deliver products that are truly valuable and globally competitive. We are now in the stage of discussing specific initiatives based on this policy.
Ihara: Could you provide examples of products that are new and globally competitive?
Ogiso: We have rolled out activities in three fields. One is the field of automated driving and preventive safety, which is extremely important and requires deliberate strategies. Specifically, we are discussing to encourage the collaboration between the automated valet parking technology and vehicle dynamics control technology, which are mainly promoted by Aisin Seiki and ADVICS, respectively, in our Business VC and exploring how we should translate the two into products that will be useful for the public. The second is the field of chassis control currently undertaken by Aisin Seiki. Combining chassis control with a brake offers many possibilities. For example, suspension control and brake control had been designed separately, and an automaker had combined the two into its vehicles. This is inefficient and precludes new ideas. Thus, we are engaging in an activity to consider a suspension system and a brake system simultaneously, and to offer a better packaged solution. The third is the field of brakes. ADVICS had been in charge of this field, but electrification of parking brakes has necessitated system development for both disc and drum brakes. Controlled brakes are also required to offer higher performance at a lower cost. Since the AISIN Group’s strengths lie in electromechanical products that combine an actuator and an electronic control device, we need to find ways to better integrate a motor, driver and an ECU. Occasionally, we will also need to collaborate with the ICT & Electronics VC and Powertrain VC to reinforce our overall capabilicapabilities. While conducting these three activities, we will continue to take on challenges in new fields during the following year.
Nishikawa: First, for increasing the competitiveness of existing products, we rolled out “best mix” activities last year to extract the strengths of each of the three companies. These activities have begun to show some good results. We will reinforce plant operations by unifying quality management standards and operational management methods of the three companies, and facilitating personnel exchange. Next, in terms of reorganizing our supply structure, transfer of production operations among plants in Japan has been proceeding at a good pace, but we have not started this process for our plants outside Japan. We will discuss the matter thoroughly and strive to ultimately build an optimum supply structure across the world. In the area of development of next-generation products, we will take on challenges of conducting development activities under the Hospitality Services Working Group (WG) in collaboration with the ICT & Electronics VC and adopting new materials, including aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastic. For these purposes, we will establish a Development Committee within the Body VC to narrow down a list of items that will be developed jointly by the three companies to 14 and promote development in an efficient manner.
Also, we intend to nurture skilled leaders who can take initiative in these cross-company activities.
Ihara: For hospitality services, I hope you will strengthen collaboration within the Group and increase our capabilities to offer solutions in concrete terms by working with the ICT & Electronics VC.