Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
Industry & Trade | Asia-Pacific | Japan

Asti Corp, Japan

‘We are looking for some solid partners in order to further expand our medical business’


3 months ago

Nobukazu Suzuki, President of the ASTI Corporation
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Nobukazu Suzuki

President of the ASTI Corporation

Nobukazu Suzuki, President of the ASTI Corporation, discusses his firms work in micro needle development, and its move into the medical sector.

 

In recent years, we have seen regional peers copying and replicating the manufacturing processes of Monozukuri at a lower cost. What are the main competitive advantages of Japanese manufacturing compared to its competitors (China, Korea)?

I believe the word Monozukuri has a wide and broad meaning. Here at Asti, which was founded in 1963, we have specialized in manufacturing and therefore in Monozukuri. We have been able to accumulate many years of experience, and therefore constantly perfect our products. Personally, I believe that Monozukuri is 4 distinct things: Cost, Quality, Delivery and Service. It is of course absolutely essential to put emphasis on quality and great delivery. In addition, it is important to match our products with our customer’s needs, in order to increase the customer’s experience. Now, when we relate this with our company, we put a great deal of importance on R&D. In addition, our process design team is one of the most important teams in our company. Basically, to be able to do everything in-house is the essence of Monozukuri, and the essence of ASTI. It is true that in China or Korea, there are many companies that are imitating Japanese Monozukuri, but quality will always differentiate our products from the rest.

 

The term “Chuken Kigyo” is a Japanese concept that defines a strong medium-size firm. While largely invisible to the general public, these corporations are the strength of Japanese industry, and they are often found to be market leaders in niche fields, or even behind some of the world’s most famous brands and products. Why can we consider Asti Corporation to be a “Hidden Champion”?

As you know, Asti is not a B2C company but rather a B2B company. Our strength here at Asti is that we are always able to identify and understand the needs of our clients. The most important thing is to detect what kind of products our clients will be producing and therefore what kind of components they will be needing from us. The first step is the information gathering from our customer, but this is often complicated to gather. Thanks to this process we are able to identify their needs and what technology will be best adapted to them. The repetition of these processes: gathering of the information, and proposing our services is our main strength here at Asti.

 

At the eve of the 4th Industrial Revolution, many industries are experiencing tremendous changes due to innovative technologies, such as digitalization, IoT, cloud computing and miniaturization. What has been the impact of innovative technologies on your market?

During our long history, we have concentrated our efforts on automotive, home electronics and IT. These three domains have been the backbone of our business. However, as you may know, Japan has an aging society, and a shrinking population. Therefore, I had a great fear that this situation would continue and as a result, our business would continuously shrink. So I decided that it was essential for our company to expand its business activities in order to survive in the domestic market. At that time, we were extremely competitive in fine processing. Using this technology, we stepped into the medical field. This is our main strategy in order to survive in Japan: the medical field. The 4th industrial revolution, with technologies such as AI, robotics, factory automation and big data are critical to our industrial revolution. Here at Asti, using these technologies will be crucial in our development, and we will of course be adapting them to our medical activities.

 

What are the advantages of your micro needles and how will they revolutionise the way vaccines are administrated throughout the world?

Our company has a big advantage in terms of micro needle processing, which is our fine processing technology and mold injection technology. We have collaborated with a university in order to apply these technologies to micro needles. We have already developed plastic micro needles and are currently developing metal micro needles, which we are hoping will become the first medical device at Asti Corporation. The plastic micro needles have high potential for effective vaccination. The intradermal vaccination with such micro needles has been proved to be more efficient than conventional subcutaneous injection, because of skin specific immunocompetent cells which induce immune system. Additionally, the amount of drug needed will be considerably reduced, therefore saving countless amounts of money, and reducing the waste of precious vaccines

 

Are you looking for partners in order to achieve your objectives in the medical sector?

Absolutely. We are looking for some solid partners in order to further expand our medical business. We are not looking for partners in specific regions, but rather companies in specific sectors. We would be very keen in finding companies specialized in vaccines, in order to partner up with them and achieve our ambitions. We are aware that it will be difficult to find them domestically, as Japan imports most of its vaccines. In addition, we are looking to partner up with cosmetic companies, because our micro needles are also perfectly adapted to the administration of cosmetics on the surface of the skin.

 

Throughout the years, your company has expanded beyond the Japanese border, in countries such as China and Vietnam. Can you tell us more about your international strategy?

When it comes to our micro needles, we are currently searching and analysing the market. Historically, with our other products, we are of course present in China, Vietnam and India. The reason why we did not step up to other markets such as the Untied States and Europe is because of the size of our company. We are a relatively small company, and we preferred to step into less competitive markets. Looking at the future, I think we will strengthen our position in the Asian market, as many countries are going through a phase of tremendous growth. I believe that the Asian Market is extremely promising. Concerning the micro needles, we are currently looking to both domestic and international market based on analysis of the needs of our customers.

 

Where would you like to see your company in the next 10 years?

My dream is to create an original product, such as our micro needles, in order to increase Asti’s brand awareness. I want people to recognise our products and to recognise the Asti touch, the Asti technology, and our added values.

 

 


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