The autoparts maker, whose advanced piston rings can be found in cars around the world, has developed a diverse portfolio of groundbreaking technologies that will promote further development of global industries
Technology moves fast in the automobile industry, with some of the world’s brightest engineers working in the R&D departments of the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan and the Detroit 3. In turn car part suppliers to these leading carmakers must stay ahead of the curve, by constantly adapting and developing new technologies.
One such company that has been doing this for decades is Japanese firm, Riken Corp. Riken’s predecessor company was founded in 1927 by The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (now known as RIKEN), which is Japan’s largest and most comprehensive research organization for basic and applied science. Its purpose is to commercialize its advanced inventions, as exemplified by the innovative piston ring manufacturing method it crafted 90 years ago.
Since its foundation, Riken’s management has nurtured a culture of innovation amongst its employees, which has allowed for global competitiveness and expansion. With piston rings as one of its core businesses, Riken has evolved into a leading manufacturer of high-performing automotive and other functional components.
According to the company, half of Japanese cars around the globe are equipped with its piston rings. Riken’s advanced and custom-made piston rings are also in high demand in the professional racing world, such as in NASCAR and in the race cars that compete in the 24-hour race of Le Mans.
In response to concerns for the environment, engines have been dramatically improved in terms of offering higher fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. Piston rings may not be much to look at, but their important role in overall engine performance cannot be understated.
“The general public may not be fully aware of the incredible impact our piston rings have on fuel consumption,” says Chairman and CEO Noritada Okano. “There is no end to improving fuel efficiency. We must therefore make our best efforts to provide innovative solutions that help lead to more efficient fuel consumption.”
Piston rings are a key component at the heart of the engine, the power cylinder unit (PCU), and they have evolved in tandem with the advancements in overall engine performance. Riken is currently concentrating its R&D efforts on the development of high-performance PCU systems technology. In 2015, it entered into a partnership with major German piston maker, KS Kolbenschmidt GmbH, in order to enhance the PCU systems capabilities of both companies, and to provide advanced PCU solutions to their customers.
Thanks to its materials technologies, precision processing and state-of-the-art heat management and various surface treatment technologies, Riken has developed a diverse range of high-tech products that are used in a variety of industries beyond the automobile industry.
Riken’s superior metal sealing products can be found in nuclear power plant turbines and in rockets. The company also supplies high-end heater modules to leading manufacturers of semiconductors, glass and industrial furnaces; while its advanced plastic products are used for a variety of applications, including in automatic transmissions for cars. It also has a sophisticated EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) engineering business group.
“All of these product developments were made possible thanks our core technological competencies and the innovative spirit that is inherited from our RIKEN roots,” says Mr. Okano.
“I believe there should be many diversification opportunities for us across a broad range of industries. Another focus is to expand the application of our core technologies to non-automobile areas.”
This year is Riken’s 90th anniversary. Going forward in line with its new mid-term plan through 2020, Riken is pursuing “Growth through Diversification” and “Pioneering Technologies”, and is accelerating its activities to provide advanced solutions and groundbreaking products to address global challenge such as climate change, and to promote further development of industries around the world.