Ueno Co., Ltd. is introduced in FY 2017 Measures to Promote Manufacturing Technology, the report of the ordinary session of the 196th Diet of Japan.
“FY 2017 Measures to Promote Manufacturing Technology is a report on measures that the Government of Japan has taken to promote core manufacturing technologies, which was compiled pursuant to Article 8 of the Basic Act on the Promotion of Core Manufacturing Technology.
The report was jointly prepared by three ministries, namely, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education Culture, Science and Technology, and approved by the Cabinet.” (Information extracted from the official website of METI)
The article is translated into English as follows.
Ueno Co., Ltd. -The Development of the Automatic Winding System of next-generation Coil-
Ueno Co., Ltd. is located in the city of Tsuruoka, Yamagata Pref. Japan and has manufactured noise suppression coils since 1982 when the company was established. The coils have various types of shapes; in particular, the ring-shaped coil is called a toroidal coil. Now, Ueno Co., Ltd. is recognized as Japan’s leading manufacturer of them. The noise suppression coils are used to eliminate noise originating from power supplies of all kinds of electric products including office automation equipments and household electrical appliances. Especially, millions of units of toroidal coils for air-conditioners are produced each month. However, the production process of those coils is a labor-intensive and it has relied on manual labor in general. Therefore, many firms have constantly relocated their production bases seeking a low-wage workforce. The reason why the production has not yet been automated to facilitate mass production is that it requires a considerable amount of capital investment and the profit will be small because of low sales prices. It is certain that the product quality will be stable when they are produced by machines rather than by manual operations. However, price rises will be inevitable if they were automatically manufactured. Accordingly, coils are still manually wound in most of the coil manufacturers as a product of compromise between the cost and the quality.
Ueno Co., Ltd. also shifted the production bases from China to Thailand looking for low labor-cost locations. Yet, the company has strived to find a better way other than relocations of the bases and it has put great effort into the development of the automatic winding machine in collaboration with an engineering firm since 2004. It would be possible to domestically produce coils if the operation were mechanized. In June 2008, Ueno Co., Ltd. had succeeded in inventing the automatic winding machine and some products were started to be created by using it. Currently, a series of the flow of the production (winding, insulation film separating, soldering, forming, lead cutting, and checking) are completely automated.
Based on clients’ requests, Ueno Co., Ltd. has worked on to develop an in-house product that achieves the high-quality standard, cost reductions, and mineralization. In this way, the company generated an innovative product with an unprecedented shape called Ueno Coil. By utilizing the automatic winding machine to produce Ueno Coil, the productivity is increased by twenty times. Ueno Coil has an excellent feature to eliminate noise as they are wound by rectangular copper wires with high density. While two ordinal coils are needed for one power supply, only one Ueno coil can be applied on one power supply. Ueno Co., Ltd. has been shipping over 18 millions of units for TV/AC adopters since they first mass-produced the new products.
Ueno Co., Ltd. has enhanced the quality of the products by shifting the company’s product strategies from manual piecework and outsourcing to the perfect automation of manufacturing coils. However, the automatic winding system is such an elaborate machine that was created through trial and error and its bottleneck is a heavy depreciation burden. Therefore, as of now, only half the outputs are produced by the machines and the rest are still made manually due to the issue of cost efficiency. Ueno Co., Ltd. is aiming to reduce the depreciation burden by inventing simpler winding machines with minimum functions modeling on the first device.