Consolidate Before Exploring New MarketsSat, 09/01/2018 - 13:12
Understanding the Japanese way of working is not only a concern for suppliers wanting to participate in the automotive production chain. Technology providers must also be aware of the differences in work cultures if they are to succeed in the market, according to Oscar Ceballos, Manager of Tokyo Boeki Techno-System de México, and Shuichi Watanabe, International Sales of Tokyo Boeki Techno-System (TTS).
“Our core business is in the automotive industry and we have a lot of support from Japan to develop in this market,” says Ceballos. Being a Japanese metrology provider, TTS is in an advantageous position to understand Japanese clients and to cater to the growing investment coming from this country. “We are a major player in the Japanese measurement systems market and we think that there is great opportunity to grow our presence in Mexico,” says Watanabe.
TTS started in 1960 and established operations in Mexico in 2013. The company has reached average yearly sales of over US$1 million and many leading companies such as Nissan, Mazda and Honda use its systems, according to Watanabe. Although he says that almost all companies use TTS technology back in Japan, in Mexico there are still many companies, Japanese even, that do not know TTS and what it can offer to their businesses. “Our goal at the moment is to target only Japanese companies and to grow our sales threefold in the next three years.”
Ambitious as this objective may be, both Ceballos and Watanabe are confident in TTS’ almost 60 years of experience and the quality of its technology. According to Watanabe, TTS is much more flexible than its competitors. “Unlike other players that have always been focused on equipment production, TTS started as a trading company,” he says. “We used to import technology to Japan and one of our suppliers focused on 3D measuring equipment.” Even though the company became a manufacturer too, it maintained its openness to collaborate with other players in the industry and now companies such as Carl Zeiss and Hexagon are TTS’ partners. This partnership has been a win-win situation for all parties involved; while TTS developed its technology further, its collaborators learned to target the Japanese market. “Without our help, Carl Zeiss would not be able to understand the Japanese work culture and meet clients’ needs effectively.”
TTS has also worked to stay on top of new industry trends affecting the metrology segment to remain a competitive player. According to Ceballos, automation is the biggest opportunity for the industry. “Clients need fast, stable and accurate measurements but they do not want many cameras or sensors doing the job,” he says. However, due to the many technologies that must come together — robotics, control systems, movement rails — automation represents a challenge for both manufacturers and integrators. “Every element that you add to the system puts measurement accuracy at risk so we must find a way to maintain reliability while optimizing operations,” says Ceballos.
Data processing and analysis is another disruptor in which TTS is focusing. The company is working with software developer ATS to create a program similar to an ERP but focused solely on manufacturing and quality-control operations. “We have also participated in Nissan and Daimler’s COMPAS project to collect all data from the body inspection process and upload it to the company’s internal network,” says Ceballos. “We continuously invest in technology development and that puts us one step ahead of our competitors.”
The company may be focusing only on Japanese players at the moment but its growth strategy will not always be limited by nationality. By 2019, Watanabe says TTS plans to service any company regardless of its origin, including Mexican suppliers. The company understands the need for the industry to have more local sourcing, which is why it has already partnered with state governments to support local players. “We are working on an agreement with the government of Aguascalientes to find the best way to support small companies that want to purchase our equipment.”