IAA interviewed Seiichi Miyazawa, MD, Hioki Singapore on the company’s future growth and regional potential.
Hioki’s primary focus is on the automotive, electronic components, renewable energy, and infrastructure markets. In the automotive industry, developments in EV and autonomous driving are advancing, and within the Asian market, the acceleration will centre on China, South Korea and Japan.
This will drive the motor, inverter, ECU, and battery industries where Hioki measurement technology will play a very important role. With the possibility of production lines shifting to Southeast Asia, I expect business opportunities in this area to grow even further.
IAA: Could you discuss some of the trends impacting Automatic Test Equipment?
Seiichi Miyazawa (SM): Many customers nowadays care about prevention to avoid having quality problems in the market. We think that is an important trend.
Our ATE system can offer our customers improvements in quality, while at the same time lowering costs. If our ATE machines work as intended our customers are very happy as it facilitates an improvement in quality, and as a result their company value.
Take PCBs, for example, they are very small and complicated, but our ATE machine can test such complicated PCBs.
That is why we can support customers to prevent them from having any quality problems in the market, which is why we intend to continue supporting this trend.
Furthermore, because many customers try to avoid having quality problems in the market they focus on measurements and not only test. ATE can do testing, but Hioki was originally a measurement company. That is why we can provide measurement techniques, which is why we have integrated such measurement technologies into our ATE machines.
IAA: What is your outlook for 2020 given the ongoing global pandemic?
SM: The consumption activities are getting lower. It means everybody does not want to consume. That is why manufacturing customers cannot produce so much of their products. It means the market is getting smaller. That is what we are concerned about. Because if those customers are not investing and do not consume it means they do not want to invest in new production lines.
Furthermore, measuring instruments that we are offering are the last things many customers want to buy. That is why those items can be suspended, which is concerning.
However, we are expecting to see an increase in maintenance demands because many customers are trying to decrease their consumption.
They need a way to visualise the data, which we can support them with through our equipment, and support them with their energy savings activities.That is why we are expecting those kinds of instruments to be acceptable to buy for many customers.
To survive under such circumstances, customers try to improve their company’s value. They improve their production quality. We can have more opportunities under this kind of situation.
In an economy that is getting smaller, many manufacturers would like to decrease fixed costs like labour costs. In such cases many manufacturers try to think about automation to decrease labour costs. Our ATE machines will be more accepted under this kind of situation as well.
IAA: Where do you see the biggest growth opportunity for your business?
SM: In our opinion one of the sectors with the biggest potential for growth is infrastructure. The second biggest area for growth is the automotive sector, followed by the 5G sector.
The fourth and fifth sectors are the battery sector and the aircon sector. Those five sectors we think have the most potential for us.
IAA: What best practices would you recommend for the ATE sector?
SM: In our opinion there are two stages in regards to best practices for the customer. One is in prototype PCBs. Because before entering into actual production prototype PCBs need to be tested to confirm if it is ready for production.
Many customers use our ATE machines at this prototype stage because after it goes into production it is quite difficult to find problems and difficult to change procedures.
That is why right before entering into mass production many customers try to use our ATE machines to check such prototype PCBs.
At the mass production stage many customers use our ATE machines. At this stage PCB testing is quite important. More important than before because if PCB testing cannot find some mistakes or problems it means subsequent processes like assembly would be very costly because they would then have to dismantle everything and throw away everything or take a longtime to find the cause, wasting time and money.
That is why if the customer can find any problems at the PCB testing stage it is quite cost effective, which is why we believe even at the mass production stage PCB testing is quite important.
These are the two steps. PCB prototype testing and PCB mass production testing, are the best practices for our customers to think about.
IAA: How do trends such as AI, Cloud, and so on impact measurement technology?
SM: Technologies such as AI, Cloud, Wireless, have a big impact on our industry. The biggest change is that users have to go to the site always to measure many parameters. Then after measuring they have to bring the data back to their office or somewhere else then check the data.
However, because of these new technologies nowadays users do not have to go to the site to measure parameters. Once they place instruments they can monitor and log all the data on their time. They can monitor even at their office because all the data can be transmitted.
The more important thing is that everything can be more immediate. As such, right after getting the data we can start thinking about what is the cause then it means we can find the cause faster than before. Meaning our customers can find the solution faster than before.
It means the user does not have to go to the site three or four times. They only need to go one time to place the instrument. As such, the customer can decrease labour costs as a result.
Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) can allow our customers to do automation in measurement. It means the customer can decrease their total cost.
Our customers can create a report automatically with automation. It means there is no room for human error. It also facilitates quality improvement, improving the company’s value.
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