As a pioneer in ultrasonic technology, Honda Electronics is looking to support international markets with its unique products.
What do the marine industry, semiconductor industry, and the sport of camel racing all have in common? All have tried and trusted in the ultrasonic technologies developed by Honda Electronics.
Established in the 1950s, the Japanese firm started out as a manufacturer of ultrasonic fish finders and this area remains a key one for its business today. Among its range of state-of-the-art marine products, for example, is the HDX-10C, a GPS-enabled digital fish finder with a 10.4-inch LCD screen. However, over the years, the applications for Honda Electronics' ultrasonic technology have and will continue to expand to other industries and applications.
“Ultrasonics and its usages have been broadening. When we developed this portable fish finder, the need existed just in the marine industry,” says president and CEO, Yosuke Honda. “Over time, several clients and needs from various kinds of industries have emerged. Our company is trying to evolve within these industries as well as the progressing needs and requests of different enterprises which we never could have imagined 50 years ago.”
Compared to radio waves and optics, the business of the ultrasonic industry still takes up a small share of the market. However, its potential applications are almost endless, stresses Mr. Honda. “Ultrasonic technology can correspond to various kinds of needs to fit the times, such as measuring, cleaning, cutting, binding, and mixing. The possibilities for ultrasonic technologies can be found in our daily lives and many industries. We are looking optimistically toward the future and discovering new areas where ultrasonic technologies can be applied.”
One example is the semiconductor industry, where Honda Electronics’ ultrasonic technologies are widely used in the fabrication process. The company provides ultrasonic cleaning equipment designed to clean semiconductor masks and wafers, both single wafer and batch type.
As semiconductor miniaturization and ultrafine processes in their manufacturing calls for ever-greater precision and accuracy, the need for ultrasonic cleaning and piezoelectric sensors is expected to grow. With the best ultrasonic technology on the market, Honda Electronics is ready to take advantage of this opportunity, but it is not the only industry where applications for its technology have great potential. “Our technology can be used in areas other than semiconductor manufacturing, and we can see potential in all of those fields. We have the best ultrasonic technology and application know-how to fit these expectations,” the president reveals.
In the medical industry, Honda Electronics provides ultrasound imaging systems and probes suitable for use in catheterization, orthopedics, general medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, among other areas. While it is difficult for an SME like Honda Electronics to position itself in the medical industry where there are already major players providing ultrasound and imaging diagnosis equipment, the company has found a niche for itself in the domestic market in the fields of orthopedics and general medicine.
“Our products can also be used for ultrasound diagnostic equipment for animal pregnancy and breeding for cattle, equine and camels,” adds Mr. Honda. “In some Islamic countries, medical screening and diagnosis have to be done for camels used in racing, so we provide our ultrasound imaging equipment for the diagnosis.” Among its range of products for the veterinary segment is the HS-103V, an ultrasound diagnostic probe for large animals such as cattle, sheep and equine, which offers three frequencies that can be independently selected according to the depth of the diagnosis site.
Turning to its strategy for business growth, Honda Electronics is working on a five-year midterm action plan which focuses on overseas expansion, with Southeast Asia the main target.
“We are looking at economically developing countries in Southeast Asia. They are more attractive for us since we expect more ultrasonic needs coming from those markets. We will need reliable partners and connections that can work with us in promoting our ultrasonic business overseas,” adds Mr. Honda. “A reliable distributor would not only need to create sales proposals for our products and techniques but also solutions for maintenance or design. We expect our distributors not only to resell our products but also to provide extra services.”
Meanwhile, Honda Electronics will continue to work with partners when it comes to innovation, product development and opening up new market opportunities – that includes fellow private companies as well as academic institutions such as Toyohashi University of Technology in Aichi prefecture and Shinshu University.
“Although we are positioned as a manufacturing firm, we are more of a technical-oriented company that opens brand-new markets through our technical capabilities,” the company's top executive proclaims. “Having a chain of reliable partners with no capital relation, we rely on other companies' manufacturing capabilities to introduce and take our products to other industries. It is also important to have industry-academia relationships. There are many things that we are trying to do through our R&D activities because it is vital to prioritize what we do here. We truly believe that our company is based on technological know-how.”