29 July 2020
What is Yazaki doing to protect its business and supply chain during the current coronavirus pandemic? How quickly do you think the industry will recover once it is brought under control?
Yazaki is one of the leading wiring harness suppliers offering a wide range of Electrical and Electronic Distribution and Display System (EEDDS) products and technologies to customers worldwide.
We are proud to not have caused the suspension of carmakers’ production during this Coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak. Yazaki flexibly switched to available plants from those forced to close following implementation or our in-house “Business Continuity Plan (BCP)”. For example, we established, and have in place, a dedicated team and committee to take care of components and materials that were subject to delivery shortages because of supplier shut-downs, with the target to quickly find alternative materials and/or suppliers. This is done jointly between the purchasing and technical departments.
We hope that the automotive industry will be back to normal, to some extent, around the beginning of 2021. But while nobody predicted the sudden change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to constantly pay attention to the latest situation and flexibly keep pace with customers’ needs.
As an in-house activity:
- We must ensure a safe restart
Employees’ health and safety is our top priority. We have been managing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak for more than four months. We are now able to reopen a number of our facilities.
Additionally, a lot of governments are starting to progressively ease their lockdowns and are allowing business to reopen. Based on our preventive measures and preparation, we are confident in the restart of our operations in compliance with local requirements.
- Plant Restarts
Currently, our plants are running with modified manufacturing process with greater employee operational space. New safety standards and measured training is in place to ensure maximum protection for our employees.
- Office Restarts
We started progressively welcoming employees back into our offices in accordance with various situations, while continuing to leverage the flexibility of working remotely in a virtual workplace. Our office routine will not be the same as before the COVID-19 crisis. We need to modify operations effectively depending on the carmakers’ needs as well as guidance from health authorities.
As the automotive industry adopts new mobility solutions, what do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for your business?
As all new mobility aspects such as Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service and Electric (CASE) are linked to EEDDS, they provide big challenges and opportunities for Yazaki. For example, Yazaki has a variety of Power and Data distribution products, including DC-DC converter, busbar module for xEV battery pack, charging connectors and outlet for xEV, etc.
As new mobility will need cutting edge electric systems more and more, Yazaki will collaborate closely with carmakers to create optimal systems. HMI systems, including meters and Head-Up-Display (HUD), are one of our prominent businesses. Autonomous vehicles need to display a lot of sensory information on HMI in addition to regulatory requirements. We are investing in research and development in advanced technologies in this area.
Yazaki also provides tachograph and/or taxi meter with driving-video recorder and wireless communication system in some countries. As a result, Yazaki handles a lot of big data from commercial vehicles’ movements and status as one CASE relevant business. We believe that this experience will be linked to future CASE solutions.
What major benefits has Yazaki innovation brought to the automotive industry?
Regarding wiring harness, the development of compressed core, thin wall wire, and the related smaller connection technologies, permitting the use of thinner and smaller wire sizes, that brought weight reduction to the wiring harness, contributing to fuel reduction and emissions improvements, has been Yazaki’s contribution to the automotive industry. We also have the introduction of aluminium wire, with related wiring harness manufacturing innovations, as a further evolution in the same direction.
Yazaki is a vertically integrated company and therefore better able to innovate, not just the product (wire, connectors, terminals, etc.) but also manufacturing processes and equipment along the entire production chain. We have also continuously innovated in the manufacturing area (with proprietary wiring harness manufacturing equipment and systems) which helps deliver better quality while keeping cost down.
Yazaki has continuously tried to create innovative products. For example, we also pioneered optical fiber in automobiles, which allow vehicles to deal with rapid transmission of the in-vehicle flood of data. Yazaki also is the first company to use Organic Light Emitting Diode displays in an automotive setting over a decade ago.
Yazaki also contributed to create standards for charging connectors and inlet of CHAdeMO with a major car maker. Currently, those are widely used as one of the IEC charging standards.
Concerning other representative products, HUD, tachograph and taxi meter contribute not only to the automotive industry, but also to a safe and secure society, i.e. reducing accidents.
In common with all companies in the automotive space, recruiting top talent is a key priority. Are you finding particular areas in which the supply of qualified candidates cannot meet your demand? Do you expect this to get better or worse over the next few years?
The nature of our business (EEDDS) and fast-paced CASE trend, we need mechanical and electrical/electronical/software engineers with detailed knowledge about IT systems, social trends, and related topics. Besides those, engineers for AI and big-data analysis will be needed.
Since the technology is changing, the expected profile will change to a more “universal” engineer. The required knowledge will change from pure mechanical or electrical specialists to specialists with a deeper understanding of other engineering disciplines to allow detailed discussions in cross-functional teams.
In relation to the availability of engineering resources, Yazaki is a global company with engineering centres in many parts of the world. In addition to customer focused engineering teams located close to our customers, we also have a well-connected global network of engineering resources. This means that we are not physically restrained in our resource acquisition. We are confident we can find the people we need somewhere in the world, and we have the infrastructure in place to use their skill where we need them for our customers.