Japan's machine tool industry is facing a turning point
Beginning on May 28, the 'iPad' will finally be available in Japan. Although people's opinions on the iPad vary, there are also opinions that this terminal, which integrates an e-book reader, a small PC and a game console, is worth buying, and many people around me have already booked it. My concern here is not why Japanese manufacturers failed to develop a product like the iPad, but the fact that there are very few Japanese products in the electronic components that the iPad is equipped with. 'Nihon Keizai Shimbun' reported that although flash memory, high-frequency components of mobile phones and crystal oscillators use products from Japanese companies, the proportion of all components is very small. In addition, among the components not made in Japan, especially the batteries, touch panels and backlights, etc. use products made in mainland China and Taiwan. Of course, this alone does not mean that the competitiveness of Japanese electronic component manufacturers has declined. Not all components equipped with iPad are the most advanced products. It should be said that for Japanese electronic component manufacturers that are promoting high value-added, iPad may not have a place for them to use their strengths. However, in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and subsequently VISTA (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Algeria, Argentina), there will be a rapid increase in the population of the middle class in the future, and low-end machines targeting them The demand for models will also increase sharply. Even if Japanese manufacturers are currently monopolizing the high-end electronic components market, not only can they not ignore the expanding low-end model market in the world in the future, but they must actively strive for them. It can be said that the Japanese electronic components industry, which underpins a large number of products, is now facing a major turning point. As with the above situation, although it does not appear in the foreground, in fact, the Japanese machine tool industry is also facing a major turning point. Since the number of machine tool orders is regarded as a leading indicator of the economic situation, relevant information is also frequently published in newspapers and other media. To give a brief introduction to the uninitiated, a machine tool is a machine for cutting metal, punching holes, and grinding. Because it is a machine that manufactures machinery, it is also called 'Mother Machine'. In terms of production volume of machine tools, Japan has always been the first in the world. After replacing the United States in 1982 and jumping to the top, although the amount has fluctuated due to the impact of the economic situation, it has maintained the world's No. 1 throne for 27 years. However, in 2009, China rose to the top, and Japan slipped to third place after Germany. US Gardner Publication company survey shows that in 2009 China's machine tool production increased by 8.9% over 2008, reaching 10.95 billion US dollars. In Japan, however, it decreased by 56.5% from 2008, to $5.89 billion. China widened the gap to about 2 times in one fell swoop. Such a wide gap in 2009 was due to the peculiar phenomenon of rapid recovery in China and slow recovery in Japan after the global economy fell into a synchronized downturn. In fact, there is still a gap between the two in the strength of machine tool technology. For example, there are few manufacturers in China that can manufacture machine tools that can achieve high machining accuracy and machine tools that can process large workpieces. Nevertheless, China's production volume still ranks first, because there are many users in China who need lower-priced machine tools for general machining. And Chinese manufacturers can manufacture machines that meet these needs. In terms of technological prowess, Japan's advantage may soon be reversed. However, from the perspective of the global market, the market for this 'ordinary machine tool' will expand significantly in other regions besides China. Like the electronic components industry, Japanese companies must also strive for this 'mass' market in the future. In addition, there is a view that 'Japan's technological strength may be surpassed in an instant.' A technician from a major Japanese machinery manufacturer believes that China will soon catch up with the current gap: 'There are many outstanding talents who graduated from first-class universities to work in machine tool manufacturing companies. Unfortunately, Japanese students are employed in At the time, most of them only focused on automobile manufacturers and major home appliance manufacturers.' Japan's electronic components industry and machine tool industry have always been at the forefront of the world, so it is expected to maintain a technological advantage in the future. However, just having strength in high-end technology is no longer a guarantee of business success. How can we capture the needs of underdeveloped countries for continuous growth in the future? The author believes that for Japanese manufacturers to succeed, they must work closely with local manufacturers to formulate strategies.