Supporting major Japanese and worldwide companies, Miyaki’s aluminum coating and surface treatment solutions are used in the automotive, medical and marine industries, with the company always looking to pursue new applications for its technologies.
If we could start by having you tell us a little bit about your company. What is Miyaki and what is your core business? What are the advantages of Miyaki over your competition?
Our company has three plants in Japan and one overseas factory in Thailand. Our three plants are all located pretty much in the same vicinity, with the main factory as the base and the other plants being only a 2-3 minute journey away. Our overseas plant in Thailand is located about 2 hours out from Bangkok, and not very far away from Pattaya, which is a coastal town. The lines they have in Thailand are mainly based on hard anodizing. Our main sales items are, hard anodizing, the Kashima coating, and the Miyaki Die Cast (MD) Process.
We have both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 certification, with the ISO9000 standard requiring us to meet standards that help organizations ensure they are meeting customer and other stakeholder needs. The ISO14000 standard is an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system.
The main product of our company is the surface treatment of aluminum using our own technology mainly for the anodizing of many different types of automotive parts. In fact, we currently anodize many different automotive parts, with 56% of automotive parts, 24% for outboard engines parts, and 15% for motorcycle and bicycle parts and 5% for others. Currently, we cater to over 1500 customers, anodizing transmission valves, brake pistons and engine pistons. We also provide treatments for outboard engines and provide those parts to some major players, all of which are big Japanese companies in their own right. With the motorcycle parts, we apply surface treatment to things such as suspension forks and clutch parts. I mentioned another category earlier being “other,” and in that category, we provide services for medical equipment and manufacturing.
The core of our business however really comes from our unique Kashima coating technology. Kashima Coat is a lubricated anodizing treatment developed by Miyaki Corporation by adding a lubricating function to hard anodizing with the goal of enhancing wear resistance. The Kashima coat has produced tremendous results protecting parts from wear and tear. Friction without proper lubrication can cause not only annoyance and issues but also environmental damage too. Kashima Coat is created by filling the countless regularly aligned pores of the hard anodizing (anodic oxide) film generated via primary electrolysis with the lubricating material molybdenum disulfide.
The KASHIMA COAT is used in aluminum sliding parts in a wide range of fields. As good examples, there are many advantages such as cost reduction by eliminating shaft bearing parts, increased productivity by reducing sub-assembly, weight reduction by reducing the number of parts, and quality improvement by improving product accuracy. Thirteen years ago we supplied parts for Fox Factory Inc. the famous American off road racing suspension Component Company, and they needed some additional friction functions for their suspension systems.
Can you tell us about the strengths of your company and your manufacturing philosophy that allows you to compete and cater to so many impressive international firms?
First and foremost, our company vision is to become a company that is needed by worldwide companies, and our core strength lies in our anodized aluminum technology described earlier. As we are capable of anodizing any type of aluminum we can expand and apply our expertise to various fields. This isn’t just limited to aluminum, however, as we are also capable of converting steel to aluminum and after such conversion, we can then apply our anodizing technology.
Let's talk about your core market now, which is the automotive sector, an industry that is going through a very transformative time with the switch to EVs and alternative vehicles. First of all, we are seeing a massive shift in materials, with manufacturers moving away from heavy metals and utilizing lighter-weight alternatives to increase fuel efficiency. However, with new materials comes a higher risk of galvanization and a greater need for surface treatments. The second big change has come about from electrification. Can you tell us what impact these two changes in the automotive sector have had on your business?
We foresee the achievement or the realization of EVs taking time, and our current target is 2030, and we are doing sales targeting this year. We are focusing our research and development on parts to be applied to EVs, and development is fully underway on a compressor, an oil pump, and a motor pump. Despite this, however, there are products within our lineup that will remain once EVs emerge, products such as brakes and suspension are still required by these vehicles, and therefore we will continue to do sales promotion activities for such existing products. From my perspective, by 2030, half of the products we produce will be for EVs and the other half will be for more traditional ICEs. As you can see, we would continue to serve the needs of the ICE industry, however, by losing 50% of our business we need to work on opening up new channels and producing new products
I’m curious to know, outside of your core automotive markets is there a particular new market that you are interested in entering?
We want to open ourselves up to the medical sector as well as energy, aerospace, and next-generation vehicles. We are not looking to only restrict ourselves to automotive. We’re also keen to one day be involved in some sort of flying car or vessel.
Are you looking for other partners in overseas countries?
We just started a technical alliance with an overseas company in Germany. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose more information at this time, but we are very excited and optimistic about what this technical alliance may bring to the table.
Could you give us an overview of your MD process and how you are able to achieve a more effective coating for difficult surfaces compared to conventional techniques?
This is our unique technology for good corrosion resistance that is used for aluminum die casting, usually for ADC12, which is an aluminum alloy that is one of the most used materials for die casting globally. This is because of its excellent thermal conductivity, great diecasting properties, less shrinkage, and its good performance as a filling. The reason it is so hard to perform a surface treatment membrane is that copper is highly conductive to electricity, whereas silicon is not. This is key because the alloy contains elements of both copper and silicon, and by anodizing two different types of elements, you create less-than-ideal conditions for a stable membrane film formation. However, with the aid of our electrolysis technology, we are able to establish the kind of environment and criteria that allow for the stable and uniform creation of the anodizing process on aluminum diecast.
This aluminum diecast technology is used for outboard devices and we have the biggest share of this market with the work that we do for major Japanese marine companies. It took time, experience, and effort to develop the MD process, therefore we are trying to apply this MD process to not only outboard devices but also to automotive components.
Is this MD process something that you are offering to international clients or is it something that you’re only focusing on in Japan?
At this moment in time, there are no overseas plans.
Speaking of the international market, could you tell us more about the role it plays in your business model? How do you plan to further develop your international business?
With our overseas business, we are doing sales approaches with the Kashima Coat only at this moment, but we are receiving orders and doing all our processing work in Japan only, and the reason is that we want to confine our technology to Japan.
Currently, we have a factory in Thailand that mainly makes products for automotive parts. The reason we chose Thailand as a base was because the country itself is considered a hub for Southeast Asian markets, and we would like to utilize that location to expand further into Asia. Regarding those automotive parts, we don’t only cater to Japanese carmakers, but also for Korean, Chinese, and other overseas manufacturers.
If I’m correct, your company is celebrating its 41st birthday this year, so let’s imagine that we come back four years from now on your 45th birthday to conduct this interview all over again. What would you like to tell us at that time? What are your goals and dreams for Miyaki?
For the short term, our company’s objectives are to enter into new markets with our existing technology, and by applying our existing technology we hope to open new channels and opportunities. We understand that the Japanese market is becoming quite harsh in some aspects, but my mission as the company’s president is to continue to ensure the happiness of all of our employees. They are key and human capital is our real investment for the future.