Sunday, Nov 18, 2018
Industry & Trade | Asia-Pacific | Japan

Mitutoyo Corp

“MITUTOYO stands behind every product; it supports our lives”


1 month ago

Mr. Yoshiaki Numata, President of MITUTOYO Corp.
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Mr. Yoshiaki Numata

President of MITUTOYO Corp.

For this interview with the Worldfolio, Mr. Yoshiaki Numata, President of Mitutoyo Corp., explains the importance of measuring instruments and the unique role his company upholds to support international manufacturers.

 

Often replicated but never matched, “Monozukuri” has been widely spoken about but often misunderstood. Can you explain to us the advantages of the made by Japan and of MITUTOYO?

The first competitive advantage of Japanese manufacturing is quality. We at MITUTOYO produce “mother tools.” Our measuring devices support international manufacturers and therefore require an acute level of precision and reliability. While the initial cost of our products may be sometimes higher than that of our competitors, their longevity and utility is also greater. On the long term, MITUTOYO’s products are more cost effective for we manufacture our products considering their life-spam.

Furthermore, not only do we provide the product but we also offer outstanding customer service. If a customer experiences an issue or has a question about a certain device, we provide timely assistance and consultation to ensure that his production line does not get affected.

We used to have a variety of international factories, including the Unites States, Netherlands, Mexico and so on. However, we gradually closed them over the last twenty years in order to bring manufacturing back to Japan. Since we make over 6,000 kinds of measuring tools and measuring machines, production requires stringent quality control and manufacturing expertise. The knowledge required to manufacture 6,000 different tools is extreme, and for that reason we decided to produce “Made in Japan” products. That being said, all our after-sales services, consultation works, maintenance, repair and any other customer-oriented service is handled from our 59 international basis. We are committed to remaining close to our customers and to provide the solutions they require. Wherever our customers move, we follow them to offer the MITUTOYO quality. In the past, we have had clients that purchased from our competitors. Five years after taking that decision, they directly came back to us. This “coming-back” trend is often reflected in our revenue.

 

Can you tell us more about the metrology market and your place within it?

With a total size of 6 billion USD, and while the metrology market is growing, it remains a small industry. Within this niche market, more than 900 companies compete. Every year in Stuttgart, Germany, the leading metrology event called the “Control Show” welcomes nearly 900 exhibitors. Because of this stiff competition, technology is crucial to differentiate one’s self. To top our competitors, we have put focus on technology and human capital. Our historical investments in innovation and employees has turned into our greatest strength.

 

What has been the impact of Industry 4.0 on MITUTOYO?

Since some of our clients operate in complex industries, such as Automation or Aviation, we are required to adopt IoT solutions. We employ IoT as a mean to utilize, analyze and treat the data captured by our measuring tools. This information is then sent to connected machine tools and relayed to the central server so that all relevant data can be centralized and observed. This method began long before “Industry 4.0.” While the democratization of smart factories is rather recent, this trend is not new to MITUTOYO. As we have been providing similar solutions since many years, many machine tool and robotic manufacturers come to us to collaborate. In a smart factory, the machines, robots and measuring tools must connect and communicate with each other in order to keep the factory running. Therefore, our customers require an IoT system that englobes all aspect of the production line, and this is exactly what we have to offer. Our MeasurLink and MiCAT Planner are the smart tools for supporting it.

 

MITUTOYO was established in 1934 as a research laboratory in Tokyo. Can you run us through the key milestones of MITUTOYO?

While MITUTOYO was established in 1934, the domestic production of micrometers began in 1936.

Our founder, Yehan Numata was born in 1897 in the Joren-ji temple in Hiroshima. He was the sixth of eight brothers & sisters belonging to a modest family. To go to upper school, he had to earn money by himself. He therefore applied to Hongwan-ji school’s overseas exchange program. In 1928, he graduated from an American University with a master’s degree. During this time, he published the magazine “The Pacific World”  was determined to convey the culture and values of Buddhism to the world. Four years within the publication, he had to stop its circulation because of a lack of funding. As he got back to Japan, he learned from his failure. He learnt that in our capitalist society, hard work needed to be combined with financial power to be successful. He decided to earn money by himself. He pondered: “what business can be successfully both financially and for Japan as a whole?” He decided to focus on manufacturing a product that was solely dependent on import: micrometers.

The word “MITUTOYO” means three abundance. MITUTOYO was selected, sincere wish to see more complete men, to create a prosperous enterprise and to introduce religion to all, along with the lasting wish for a peaceful world and fulfillment of meaningful life.

Our founder’s mission was embodied by the concept of “SHOSHIN,” a Japanese word meaning “Original Intention.” He drafted three intentions for his life. The first intention was to spread the Buddhist values to the world by his own financial means. In 1965 he established the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, which still exists today. This society translates the teachings of Buddha in 46 languages spread across 62 countries. In Japan, many hotels have an orange book in the room’s drawer. This book is a Buddhist bible published by the society. The society also opens Buddhist studies programs to famous universities, such as Harvard, Oxford or London University. His second intention was to improve the conditions of his town by creating industrial wealth. In 1947 he constructed a factory around his home temple and began the commercialization of micrometers. To this day, this factory continues to operate. His third intention was to export Japanese-made micrometers to the world. Today, 70% of the micrometers we manufacture are exported, and it all started from a modest town in Hiroshima.

His vision was to “make a person before making a product.” In 1936, we produced 100 micrometer pieces. Since we were extremely focused on quality and performance, we analyzed them and ended up keeping 17 pieces for sales. We dug a hole bellow our factory ground and buried the 83 remaining pieces. This story embodies the policy of MITUTOYO: “quality comes first.”

 

Not only do you manufacture micrometers, calipers and measuring tools, but you have also diversified in machinery and related products. Which are your best sellers and why?

In the past and up until today, our small hand tools are extremely popular. Developing countries used to purchase cheaper products instead of ours. As their economies are on the rise, we are experiencing a higher demand for quality items. For larger items, such as our CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machines) machines, the *Introduce Picture & Exact Name* is one of our best sellers. This measuring station is composed of a multitude of sensory devices. It is a great tool for example, jet engine turbine blades or automotive engine parts as it allows you to provide many type of solutions, and it has been one of our best sellers over the last years.

 

Your company assists some of the world’s best known manufacturers. Is there any brand or product that you are particularly proud of contributing to?

It is impossible for me to pick out a single brand or product. Our measuring tools are simply everywhere. Every manufacturer across the globe utilizes small-tools such as calipers or micrometers. Automotive, aerospace, medical, consumer electronics and machinery field.… MITUTOYO stands behind every product; it stands behind our lives. We proud of providing mother tools for “MONOZUKURI” need.

 

MITUTOYO has R&D facilities across the world. Why did you decide to construct international R&D facilities and what advantages does it procure to MITUTOYO?

Our products are getting increasingly complex. Today, software and hardware must merge to create next-generation devices. To gain this advanced knowledge, we need to combine the “brains of the world.” As our American engineers, European engineers and Asian engineers stay close to our clients, they understand the needs of the market. Thanks to our international R&D facilities, they are able to apply this knowledge to create products tailored to the market.

 

MITUTOYO has been exporting since the 50’s. Can you tell us more about your international strategy?

Our strategy is to keep the manufacturing in Japan while offering all related sales & services at our international basis. Our international mission is to contribute to the wellbeing of society through precision measurement technologies. This philosophy is embodied by all our branch managers who exercise this way of thinking. This philosophy is our backbone.

Our management is not “Global,” it is “Glocal.”  Corporate whole strategy is directed by H.Q., but, since we respect each country’s culture, business manner, languages and etc, we depend on a local expert conducting marketing and sales strategy who is also locally close to customers in each country.

 

How do you enforce the MITUTOYO spirit?

Miutoyo people understand the spirit of the founder, Yehan Numata and company philosophy which drive them to make good efforts everyday in order to keep Mitutoyo brand.

 

What has been the impact of robotics and automation on MITUTOYO?

A problem we are suffering from is the shortage of labor. People believe that this problem is unique to Japan, but it has expanded throughout the world. In Italy, the decreasing demographic line is shrinking the work force; in Germany, the youth doesn’t want to work in manufacturing sites; in Vietnam, which was labelled as “the new China,” wages have sharply shot up and graduate students decide to go into IT or banking instead of manufacturing. This has had a large effect on our productivity and on our manufacturing method. Our designers and factory engineers now have to ponder upon a production facility that combines humans, machines and robots together.

 

What are your ambitions for the next 10 years of MITUTOYO?

I want MITUTOYO to be even more innovative. I want MITUTOYO to stand for  “Future Solutions Provider” for our customers.

At last, I would want our name to be associated with the betterment of society.

 


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