Sunday, Jun 23, 2024
logo
Update At 14:00    USD/EUR 0,00  ↑+0        USD/JPY 0,00  ↑+0        USD/KRW 0,00  ↑+0        EUR/JPY 0,00  ↑+0        Crude Oil 0,00  ↑+0        Asia Dow 0,00  ↑+0        TSE 0,00  ↑+0        Japan: Nikkei 225 0,00  ↑+0        S. Korea: KOSPI 0,00  ↑+0        China: Shanghai Composite 0,00  ↑+0        Hong Kong: Hang Seng 0,00  ↑+0        Singapore: Straits Times 0,00  ↑+0        DJIA 0,00  ↑+0        Nasdaq Composite 0,00  ↑+0        S&P 500 0,00  ↑+0        Russell 2000 0,00  ↑+0        Stoxx Euro 50 0,00  ↑+0        Stoxx Europe 600 0,00  ↑+0        Germany: DAX 0,00  ↑+0        UK: FTSE 100 0,00  ↑+0        Spain: IBEX 35 0,00  ↑+0        France: CAC 40 0,00  ↑+0        

Shinx Corporation: Driving Precision in High-quality Steel and Semiconductor Materials

Interview - June 11, 2024

Despite limited natural resources, Japan's steel and semiconductor industries thrive through exceptional craftsmanship, innovative technology, and an unwavering commitment to quality. Discover how Japanese company Shinx Corporation is navigating global competition and positioning for future growth.

 

KATSUHIKO GUNJI, PRESIDENT OF SHINX CORPORATION CO., LTD.
KATSUHIKO GUNJI | PRESIDENT OF SHINX CORPORATION CO., LTD.

Japan is a resource-poor country and, as a result, has to rely on imports, which amounted to JPY 83,000 million between 2014 and 2023. Despite this, Japan is the third-largest steel-producing nation in the world, with significant companies such as Nippon Steel Corp and Nippon Yakin Kogyo. How has Japan been able to be successful despite being resource-poor?

The main strength of the Japanese steel industry lies in the production of construction materials like H-beams and automotive materials like high-tensile steel, used mainly for car bodies. We have a partnership with Kobe Steel, which produces high-rigidity steel that is known for its high quality. Japanese products are renowned for their quality and precision. Japan has developed its monozukuri culture, excelling in producing high-end, niche application types of steel. Japanese companies are adept at mass-producing these high-quality goods, and Japanese people are hardworking and diligent. They always deliver on their commitments and are punctual, which is another point of differentiation. However, Japan is losing on cost to countries like China, which is a disadvantage.

 

The semiconductor industry has been in the news in the last couple of years here in Japan. TSMC is breaking ground on a new factory in Kumamoto and they just announced that they’ll build a second factory as well. The US has introduced the CHIPS Act, which is putting USD 52 billion on the table to help grow domestic production. We know Japan is very successful with machinery and chemical elements, with companies like Shin-Etsu, but as someone in the industry, do you expect that to continue, or do you see regional rivals catching up with Japan?

I think Japanese companies will continue to excel in terms of material and equipment. Companies like Samco and Shin-Etsu Chemical provide silicon wafer material. In the gas sector, some companies have their strengths. Tokyo Electron leads the way in equipment. These technologies have accumulated over the years with the Japanese monozukuri mindset, so they are not easily copied by other countries like China. However, Japan needs to be mindful of retaining technology within the country to maintain its leading position. In terms of overseas competition, there are many rivals. In the past, one Japanese company had a 70% share of exposure equipment, and now they only have about 15%. They’re losing to a company in the Netherlands. These kinds of ups and downs are common. However, overall, Japanese companies will continue to hold a strong position in the semiconductor industry.

In the past, Japan had over 80% of the market share in terms of electronic devices. However, it has been surpassed by Korea and Taiwan, and now some companies are trying to regain their market share, which is currently about 12%. The potential is unknown, but I see growth potential in semiconductor materials and equipment for Japanese makers.

 

Now is a pivotal time for Japanese manufacturers with policies such as the US Inflation Reduction Act, which is forcing corporations to diversify the supply chain to reduce country risks. Japan is known for its reliability and advanced technology, and coupled with the weak yen, now is a unique opportunity to expand overseas despite stiff price competition from neighboring countries like China and Korea. What are the advantages of Japanese suppliers in this current market environment, and how do you navigate the stiff price competition from neighboring countries?

My opinion is that Japan should not compete with low-cost players. Instead, we should focus on high-quality products and be sincere in producing such high-quality products. Then the world will notice that, on a total cost basis, reliable, high-quality suppliers offer an advantage because relying on low-cost, low-quality suppliers results in a higher total cost for fabrication and further processing. This is a message that I would like to send to the world as a Japanese company.

 

The global market for non-ferrous metal was USD 1.1 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach USD 1.7 billion by 2032, representing a 4.5% annual growth rate. Looking ahead, what forthcoming innovations or advancements do you predict will address the changing needs of these diverse industries, and what will be the big growth drivers of non-ferrous metals?

The non-ferrous market will surely grow, mainly with lightweight aluminum used in the transportation sector. With the growth of electric vehicles, trains, and planes, there will be a growing need for lighter non-ferrous materials. For our company, we see growth in the market for semiconductor production machinery, production equipment, flat panel displays, and lithium-ion battery manufacturing devices where our aluminum alloy plates are currently used. We foresee a huge increase in the production of these types of equipment, so we are anticipating growth in our business.

Furthermore, aluminum alloy plates are growing in part because they are eco-friendly, helping reduce CO2 emissions and building a cyclical green economy.



It’s interesting what you are saying about this growth in business because non-ferrous metals have advantages such as corrosion resistance, lightweight properties, and recyclability. However, they are also expensive compared to ferrous metals and sometimes lack the strength needed for certain applications. They are also subject to oxidation and have limited magnetic properties. How do you overcome the challenges associated with non-ferrous metals like this?

There’s indeed a downside to non-ferrous metals like aluminum. For example, although it is not as easily oxidized as iron, aluminum also oxidizes. It retains an oxidized surface, but it’s only on the surface and oxidation does not progress further, so a surface treatment like anodizing avoids the oxidation of aluminum. For materials used in manufacturing equipment industries, this treatment is applied to avoid oxidation. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so finding the appropriate application is important. Although aluminum has some downsides, there are many more positive factors in its application, such as in semiconductor manufacturing equipment. It has high heat conductivity; it is easily processed; and it is lightweight yet strong. With all these positive factors, it is well adapted for semiconductor, LCD, and battery manufacturing equipment.

Aluminum alloy also has high recyclability and is therefore a good fit for a decarbonizing society. We predict that demand will be quite high in the near future as well.

 

In a previous interview we did with the president of Tokyo Electron, he mentioned that semiconductors are about to become a USD 1 trillion industry. He also mentioned that 50% of the consumable material production market comes from Japanese companies. You supply metal materials and blank processing materials such as your ALHIGHCE® or ALJADE® A 5052, known for their precise plate thickness and tolerance and extreme quality control. Could you tell us more about how you contribute to semiconductor component manufacturing?

For the semiconductor industry, we provide ALHIGHCE® and ALJADE®. These are produced by Kobe Steel and are unique in that they have minimal residual inner stress, meaning they are less likely to warp or distort when processed using mills. They have excellent thickness tolerance accuracy at the raw material level, thanks to Kobe Steel's superior rolling technology.

Since semiconductor manufacturing equipment requires high dimensional precision, the material from Kobe Steel can achieve this when processed into the aluminum plates used for equipment. If the equipment cannot be manufactured according to specs, it would not allow the manufacturing of semiconductor products to achieve the desired precise outcome and would incur additional costs if the material provided is not to specified dimensions.

 

Your finished products ensure minimal warpage, parallelism, flatness, and perpendicular squareness, and you can differentiate yourself from competitors with this precision, delivery speed, and cost-effectiveness. Can you tell us more about the technology or quality control that you implement to ensure high dimensional accuracy and surface quality?

The biggest and most unique factor of our company is that we make our own machinery for cutting and milling processes and we make custom machinery dedicated to different materials. For example, we have different cutting and milling machinery for aluminum and stainless steel, understanding the differences between the materials. Designing and developing our own cutting and milling machines, dedicated to our production process, is critical to our quality and success.

Another factor is our accumulated experience, which allows us to create optimal conditions for processing. The number of rotations per minute and the speed of the processing are all determined based on the desired outcome. We also have an integrated system within our factory that combines the equipment with the knowledge and skills of our staff, enabling us to maintain and improve our high quality.

As for aluminum, which expands under high temperatures and shrinks under low temperatures, controlling that temperature is very important. We guarantee dimensions within twenty degrees plus or minus two degrees for every product. We place more sensitive products in a temperature-controlled room designed specifically for such products to ensure higher precision.


The exterior of SHINX MALAYSIA


Certain metals, such as the A7075 aluminum alloy or the SUS440C stainless steel, are hard to maneuver. These materials require precise cutting and dimensions and can be suitable for a wide range of applications, such as aerospace, automotive, and precision engineering industries. How does your company overcome the machining challenges posed by these high-strength materials?

It’s a trial-and-error process. We take the material, customize our machinery, and go through many tests to find the best conditions for processing. Our biggest advantage is our staff, who actively take on new challenges to reach optimal solutions.

 

We talked about how your machinery is very precise and you are able to deliver high-quality metals quickly and at a reasonable price, with a focus on ensuring customer satisfaction. Can you tell us how this business approach sets you apart from your competitors and how you plan to further enhance customer satisfaction?

Our strength lies in our production capability. We develop our own manufacturing machinery and production line, which minimizes production time and optimizes performance, allowing us to cut down on manufacturing time. By cutting unnecessary processes, we can achieve a reasonable cost. We also have a network and partnerships with logistics companies throughout Japan, enabling us to provide products when they are needed. We also have ways to track inventory and inform clients of product availability, delivering products promptly and reliably.

 

Lastly, are you seeking any international partners, or are you looking for any opportunities overseas?

Yes, we are always looking for overseas partners to grow our business, especially in Southeast Asia, where the market is growing. With our capabilities and high-quality products, we believe we can find good partners to expand our presence and meet the demands of these markets.

 

  0 COMMENTS