What's good for customers is better for society

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  1. 1. Whatsgood for customers is betterfor society 26 July 2006 GREG Fieldismanagingdirector,OmronElectronicsforthe Oceaniaregion.Bringingawealthof experience andknowledgeof the market,FieldhasbeenwithOmronElectronicsforover14 years, beginninghiscareerinsales.Here,he speakswithDenesBolza,editorof Process&Control Engineering(PACE) magazine. DENES BOLZA: Omronstands alone amongmulti-billiondollarcompaniesforpursuingstrongethical, social and philosophical ideals.Why,where,how? GREG FIELD: Omronaims to contribute tothe sustainable developmentof society,strivingforthe bestmatchingof machinestopeople.The companysfounder,DrKazumaTateisi,believedthatno companyisworth continuingitsoperationsunlessitispositivelyevaluatedbysociety.In2001, Omronintroduceditslong-termcorporate vision:GrandDesign2010. This strivestocultivate societal needssuchassafety,securityandenvironmental conservationbydrawingonourcore sensingandcontrol technology.ItsastonishingthatDr Tateisi hadthe foresight tosee the enterprise asapublicservant,thatit existstoprovide service tosociety.InOceania,we follow this philosophyandhave developedourGrandDesignplantosuitour marketrequirements.Currently we are inthe secondphase of thisplan,whichrunsuntil 2007. We feel veryproudthatwe can contribute tosocietythroughoursafety,quality,traceabilityandenvironmentsolutions. The company recentlyacquired ScientificTechnologiesIncorporated(STI),a safetymarket leader in the US. What is the significance of thispurchase? One of ourmain strategiesisthe developmentof oursafetydivision.The STIacquisitionfitsnicely intothis,providingthe space forgreatergrowthinthe fieldof safetydevices.STIsstrengthliesin NorthAmericaand China,twomajormarketsintowhichOmronwantsto increase penetration.By capturingthese keypositions,ourindustrialautomationbusiness,whichleadsthe safetydevices marketinJapan, expectstogrowhugely.InOceania,we have hadsome goodsuccesswithour safetyproducts.Thisnewdevelopmentwill furtherenhance ourabilitytoservice the market. Omron also recentlyacquired PioneerPrecisionMachineryCorporationof Japan, as well as Aduro Inc. of the US*. Is growth through acquisitionpart of a new businessstrategy? Omronhas alwaysattributeditsgrowththroughitsownproductrange and development.Butin todaysever-changingbusinessworld,growththroughacquisitionisanecessitytohelpenhance overall productranges.These acquisitionswillfurtherenhanceourstrategicdirectioninthe respective markets. * PioneerPrecisionMachineryCorporationdevelopsandmanufacturesbacklightunits.Aduro manufacturesprecisionhigh-speedopticalsubassemblies. Have there beenother expansionareas of late? In April thisyear,we begana full-scale entryintoIndiamarket.Boththe ChinaandIndiamarketsare the mainfocus of Omronand our competitorstoestablishglobalsupremacy.Oceaniacanreceive a flow-oneffectfromthisinMRO businessasmore andmore equipmentcomesfromthese markets.
  2. 2. Also,inJune thisyear,ourglobal designandproductioncentre forcontrol componentsandsystems equipmentbeganoperationsinShanghai,China. What about customer improvements? In April thisyear, we establishedaglobal service centre inJapan.Itspartof a global planto centralise servicescurrentlymanagedseparatelybysalesandproductdivisions.Overthe nextfew years,well be rollingoutregional customersupportcentresmodelledonthe global servicecentres customersupportdivisionandcustomisedtomatchlocal needs.InOceania,we have also implementedourcustomercentrestobe part of thisglobal strategy. Turning to recent technological advances,whats hot off the press here? Our sensingtechnologydivisiondeliversnew andinnovativeideaseachmonth.These canenhance our customersproductionlines,especiallyinthe foodandbeverage industry,where checkingfor qualityisvital toensure theircustomersatisfaction.Recently,we releasedoursmartsensorZFV range and colourvisionFZseries.Bothof these enhance productionlinesbyidentifyingdefectson productsearlyinthe productionstage.CoupledwithourlatestIP69Ksensors,designedfora washdownenvironment,theseproductswillhelpOmrontoleadthe wayinofferingthe customera solutiontomanyqualityissues. Omron recentlyannouncedthat it plans to invest$20 millionworldwide inthe Radio Frequency Identification(RFID) businessovera two-yearperiod.Whats the story behindthisaggressive pursuit? RFID isnot a newtechnology.Omronhashadthe product formore than10 years.Weve responded to increasingmarketdemandinthe global RFIDmarket.Ourplanisto increase annual production above 350 million RFIDinlaysbythe endof the year. Whyhas RFID not taken off in grand style,giventhat the technologyhas beenaround for quite a while? Itsthe chickenandeggsituation.The costof tags,labelsandreadersneedstofall substantially, particularlyfortags,as these are goingto be thrownaway. Until youget more people usingRFID, youcant drive costsdown.Thiscan onlyhappenwhenlarge users like Wal-Mart*in the US get involved,puttingpressure onexpandingupstreamsupplychains.Itwill probablytake another couple of yearsfor Australiatocatch up withwhatshappeninginNorthAmericaandEurope.Its goingto be a gradual change.Omronisalso doingitsbitto drive downthe total cost of RFID tags. *Wal-Mart, the worldslargestretailer,hasmandatedthatitslargest300 suppliersshipRFID- equippedgoods,withfull compliancerequiredthisyear.Also,the USFoodand Drug Administration ispressuringdistributorsandmanufacturerstoimplementRFIDtechnologyby2007 to guard against counterfeitdrugs. How? We use a patentedprocesscalledJomfultomanufacture ourRFIDinlays.Insteadof applying adhesives,Jomful usesanultrasonicweldingmethodtobondthe chipand strapto the substrate. WithJomful too,we can provide the highvolumesneededforthe supplychainmarket.Inlaysare
  3. 3. producedupto 10 timesfasterthanadhesive-basedprocessesandcontainamore robustelectrical connection.The resultsare highersurvivabilityandreliabilityforlabel conversionandapplication. Whichindustrial sectors are driving the use of RFID? Foodand beverage,automotive andpharmaceuticals primarilybecause of the importanceof traceability.Forexample,youneedtoknow thatthe right productis beingusedinthe rightbatch. Alsobecause of traceability,RFIDisbeingusedalotin car assemblyplants.