A leading manufacturer of mechanical belts for automobiles and other machinery, Mitsuboshi Belting is expanding both its global reach and its range of products, and is primed for the shift to renewable energy sources.
Established in Kobe in 1919, the Japanese company Mitsuboshi Belting Ltd. specializes in the manufacture of mechanical belts for automobiles, motorcycles and a wide range of other machinery. A firm with a burgeoning global presence, it has also branched out from belts to other products in the century since its founding.
“Demand for belts comes not only from automotive companies, but from wherever there's machinery with a motor,” Mitsuboshi’s president, Hiroshi Ikeda, explains. “This includes agricultural machinery, office appliances and financial-related machinery such as ATMs. Within machinery, the belt is such a small component and cost-wise it’s very cheap compared to other parts, but it's a crucial component, so it’s important for the quality to match the needs of that machinery.”
With electric vehicles (EVs) on the rise, the automotive industry is changing – and Mitsuboshi is preparing for the changing needs of its customers. “We provide fan belts and camshaft timing belts for cars with internal combustion engines, but when they shift to EVs there’ll be no need for these because of the new type of motors,” Mr. Ikeda says. “However, for electric power steering units, electric parking brake units and sliding door units, our products will be used and there’ll be more demand for them.”
Mitsuboshi’s role in the move to clean energy sources is not limited to supplying belts for EVs. For example, the FREESPAN belt, produced at the company’s factory in Poland, is employed in wind turbines worldwide. “The FREESPAN belt is used to change the angle of the turbine blade,” Mr. Ikeda says. “It’s been a big hit, so we’re increasing the production line.”
Meanwhile, the MAXSTAR POWER, which Mitsuboshi says was “developed to satisfy the special requirements of agricultural machinery like harvesters and combines”, is a prime example of the outstanding durability provided by the firm’s belts. “When it comes to agricultural machinery, it’s especially important that it doesn’t stop while it's operating,” Mr. Ikeda says. “For instance, if the belt breaks while harvesting rice, you can’t continue working – and the harvesting time is limited.”
Mitsuboshi’s drive for long-lasting belts has also led it to produce the Giga Torque GX, which can replace chains in chain-drive machines. “What's good about belts is that they’re easy to handle, they’re light and they’re oil-less, but the main issue is their weakness compared to chains, because they’re made from organic material,” Mr. Ikeda says. “So our challenge was to increase the strength of the belt and we were able to achieve that with our products like the Giga Torque GX belt.”
Aside from belts, Mitsuboshi’s widening portfolio of products includes waterproofing materials for construction, such as the NEO-ROOFING protective membrane for roofs. “We're number one for waterproofing membranes made of synthetic rubber,” Mr. Ikeda says. “Because they’re made of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) synthetic rubber, they’re superior in durability and weather resistance.”
Mitsuboshi also manufactures engineering plastics, coating materials, and pastes for electronic components, including its MDot conductive silver paste, which was developed using proprietary technologies. “Our paste products are guaranteed to be of high quality because of their proven track record of use in satellites, where they must be able to withstand the harshest of environments,” Mr. Ikeda says. “We believe these products have great potential and we would like to expand their sales in the future.”
In addition to Poland, Mitsuboshi has international sites in the U.S., Germany, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. “India is a big market we’re focusing on,” Mr. Ikeda says. “We entered the country 10 years ago to supply car manufacturers, but after a few years we moved to a larger factory due to more demand. That facility will be our big foothold going into Africa and Europe.”