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Japanese companies see growth via niche markets

Expansion strategy in age of IoT aims for ultra-precision processing

For users, the service allows them to optimize production, improve efficiency of maintenance and avoid loss of production opportunities due to equipment abnormalities, by enabling them to remotely monitor their processing machines from anywhere in the world. For Roku-Roku, the service allows it to maintain close relationships with customers after delivering the machines to them. At this point, Roku-Roku is building a successful operation mainly with corporate users with whom it has a close relationship.

Roku-Roku’s plant in Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Roku-Roku’s plant in Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture

Next-generation personnel

The processing-support service using digital technology has caused a change in the image of the personnel who will lead manufacturing in the future.

“In the old days, people who engaged in making products by operating machinery at will were called shokunin (artisans), but a different set of qualifications will be required going forward,” Kaitoh said. “What will be needed is the ability to quantify implicit knowledge, such as experience and acumen, analyze big data accumulated through sensors and use them effectively in actual processing technology.” Roku-Roku is promoting processing engineers who have developed subtle senses and demonstrated creativity in manufacturing, by recognizing them as “expert machining artists” in praise of their abilities. It has so far recognized 70 individuals as such. The company aims to grow this program, looking to help develop the next generation of human resources, into an activity for the entire machine tool industry.

The company’s name, “roku-roku,” derives from a line in “Shiji” (“Records of the Grand Historian of China”). It means that the power of individuals, when brought together, can become an enormous power. Data is accumulated and creates new value when individual locations of production that support Japan’s solid industry foundation become connected with each other through the latest technology. The philosophy that has been carried on by the more than a century-old company has something in common with the age of IoT.


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