Through its lightweight, high-performance parts, Japanese manufacturer Akashi-Kikai is not only ready for the EV revolution, but is helping drive the construction industry forward as well.
Whenever an industry undergoes a drastic change, solutions are developed which not only respond to that sector’s specific challenges, but can also be utilized in a wide range of fields.
Founded in 1946, vehicle parts producer Akashi-Kikai, a subsidiary of Daihatsu, has always focused on creating small and cost-effective solutions which have multiple applications, and the sudden increase in demand for EVs has only sharpened this focus. Many of the company’s key components, such as its steering gear and transmission gears, have been developed with weight in mind and will continue to be used in EVs.
The backbone of the company’s longevity has been its dedication to nurturing its human resources. Company president Tetsuo Miura explains: “I like to think of it as building human capability. If you have good engineers and good personnel, you can develop them and, at the same time, evolve monozukuri (Japanese manufacturing craftsmanship).”
The EV revolution has not taken the company by surprise. In 2019, envisioning the huge change ahead, Akashi-Kikai crafted a five-year plan to change its business and meet new market demands.
Mr. Miura also understands the potential wider applications for his company’s products, with its award-winning camshaft now being employed in construction machinery as well as in the automotive vehicles it was designed for. Akashi-Kikai sent engineers to major construction companies such as Caterpillar and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, to learn more about the field and has begun working on hydrologic components.
The almost-silent nature of EVs is often the first thing the user notices, and Akashi-Kikai is developing a high-performance noiseless gear which would also have applications in the construction industry. The company’s success has allowed it to expand into the Indonesian and Malaysian markets, where it has joint ventures with local partners. No matter how the company continues to expand, Mr. Miura stresses that its employees will be central to its growth.