Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
Industry & Trade | Asia-Pacific | Japan

Japanese Monozukuri

FUJI OOZX, a case study of excellence in the valve industry


3 months ago

Mr. Kengo Fukaya, President of FUJI OOZX
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Mr. Kengo Fukaya

President of FUJI OOZX

Mr. Kengo Fukaya, President of FUJI OOZX, explains how his company seizes new opportunities overseas and sheds light on why some of the biggest car companies like Daimler-Mercedes Benz Cars trust FUJI OOZX

What are the main competitive advantages of Japanese manufacturing compared to its competitors like China and Korea?

Japan is a narrow land geographically. Seasonal change is large and we have few resources and food. Because of this, Japanese people have had to be creative and to make extra efforts just to survive. The strength of the Japanese people – this search for creation and amelioration – is found in the manufacturing industry.

Since the beginning of our history, Japan has placed a high value on teamwork. This has created the concept of Monozukuri. This spirit, no matter how big the company gets in size, is highly valued. Toyota for example, despite being enormous in size, still applies the philosophy of Monozukuri.

In our culture, we tend to despise copying someone else’s work. The Japanese value system takes pride in its own creation, and the meaning of Monozukuri is to differentiate oneself by reaching for uniqueness. People in rural areas have this value in a high degree. The more rural you go, the stronger this value gets.

 

In recent years, we’ve seen many of the Japanese keiretsu get attacked in the press because they are seen as having failed at globalizing as they were waiting for the big players like Toyota and Nissan to go abroad, and these companies wouldn’t do it by themselves. How do you believe the keiretsu model needs to evolve in order to continue in the future?

The basic principle of business is that if you want to fish, you go where the fish are. The term keiretsu can be used negatively sometimes, but I’m confident that the presidents of these companies thought about their companies’ future. Since the prime time of Keiretsu, many years have passed and companies started considering going abroad by themselves. I believe that today, unique companies with excellent technology can go abroad and be successful internationally without being part of a keiretsu.

 

What does Monozukuri mean to you?

Our philosophy is “Return to our Origin, Creating to your Dream”. Dreams will not come true without returning to the origin of their creation. Innovation will not be born without embracing your dreams. The essence of a technique, the skill must be to create valuable products for society. Products that your customers are pleased with.

In order to achieve these goals, we have a continuous need to improve ourselves, enhance our products’ characteristics and ameliorate our processes. I want to tell you about the meaning of our name, OOZX. OO means “Origin Point & Harmony.”  Z means “The optimal stance” and  X means “Ceaseless improvement to the ideal future.”

 

Turning our attention to the U.S., do you believe the “America First” policy of the Trump regime presents challenges or opportunities?

Most countries think that the “America First” policy will have negative economic consequences. But in truth, civilians want better cars and better quality. If other companies feel this isn’t a good opportunity for them and want to keep on with their old risk-adverse mentality, then this will not become an opportunity for them. For us, we see this as a great chance to expand overseas.

 

In the upcoming years, do you have a strategy with regards to the USA that you could share with us?

In recent years we’ve been expanding to Mexico. We view the American market and the Mexican market as one and the same. We used to have our USA sales office in Houston but we’re moving it to Chicago.

 

Where do you see foreign customers coming from?

In 2015 we dissolved all relations with TRW, our former overseas partner. In order to expand into the world markets, we’ve made independent expansions a priority. We have successfully built an independent supply and sales system. We were determined that this would be the best way for us to expand overseas.

We believe that the European market and American market will be very interesting for us. We have many customers waiting for our high-quality engine valves and we believe the US market holds great promise for our company.

 

How do you imagine the car of the future?

The reason a person owns a car is for its convenience. Citizens therefore search for less economic burden and a higher reliability. Furthermore, due to recent environmental developments, a car that is eco-friendly is needed. Our company’s mission, as our motto explains it, is to please the customer and provide products with high-value to society. The mass production of hollow engine valves is our current challenge. For our company, the car of the future is one that has engine valves with the best engine efficiency and high performance. At FUJI OOZX, we believe that our technology will open up new possibilities.

We have created over 8,500 original drawings and designs since our inception. Even now we still make 400 to 500 engine valves every month.

 

Could you tell us about some unique technologies you are developing?

We have titanium valves that will be for two wheelers, and they will be extremely small in size. On the other hand, our parent company also makes an engine valve of human size.

 

What are your products with most market potential?

We have 2 types of hollow valves. Full hollow ones, meaning that all the way to the end-part is hollow. And stem hollow ones, meaning that just the stem part is hollow. These are extremely light and show great cooling efficiency, two powerful and unique features.

Our full head hollow valves were adopted by Daimler/Mercedes Benz Cars.  We believe this relationship will be very fruitful for us.

 

What allows Fuji OOZX to be the trusted supplier of such a technical device?

The main reason is that we produce eco-friendly engine valves. Additionally, many customers rely on our hollow valves because the air in the fuel inside the cylinder combusts completely. If the combustion is complete, the efficiency becomes excellent. This perfect combustion leads to the need for cooling technique. Our superior technology cools the temperature of the valve, allowing for greater performance and resistance. Although a lot of people are interested in electric vehicles, we still have high demand for gasoline vehicle products. That is why our hollow valves are chosen as a supplier of Daimler/Mercedes Benz cars.

 

Can you tell us more about your activities in India?

Since 1990, we have had an agreement to support the technology of the region. We offer technical advice and we also teach and support local companies.

 

What are the strengths of your production model?

Our valve material is made of a special kind of steel. Our parent company Daido Steel supplies these materials to us. We have a huge advantage thanks to the relationship with our parent company.

We became part of the Daido Steel group one year after FUJI OOZX was established. So, we’ve been with them since the very beginning of the company. Most engine valve manufacturers are in keiretsu joining with other car manufacturers. We are different because we work with the steel maker instead of the car maker.

 

You mentioned that everything is made in house. You make very reliable products, but you said that your products are a little more expensive than some competitors. How do you explain this to clients?

I always tell my employees that there are 3 types of prices. First, the market price, or the price determined by the market. The second is the production price; you look at the price it costs to manufacture and then say you want to sell it at a given percentage of profitability. The third price is the “performance price,” meaning that if my product achieves this particular and unique performance, we could sell at a higher price. Commodity car manufacturers sell at either market or product price; whereas we sell at “performance price” because we want the best clients to work with.



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