The Inner Workings of Yanmar Vol.1
Hiroko Kiba Talks with Yanmar’s Hiroshi Kanda Who is in Charge of Technology Management
Hiroko Kiba: Yanmar has made big contributions in the field of energy
Hiroshi Kanda: Energy should be something that we can all take for granted
Yanmar’s legacy as a leading name in agricultural equipment began back in 1933 when Yanmar’s founder, Magokichi Yamaoka, pioneered the world-first successful application of a compact diesel engine.
The founder’s vision “to conserve fuel is to serve mankind” has since been the basis for Yanmar’s business expansions and diversification across the industries.
In 2012, Yanmar celebrated 100 years since its founding with the announcement of a new Brand Statement, “A Sustainable Future” (ASF).
What are Yanmar’s aspirations for society? What technologies are being used towards to achieve these aspirations? What are the ideas behind ASF?
In this three part series freelance new presenter, Hiroko Kiba, applies her profound knowledge in energy and environmental issues to delve deeper into the inner workings of Yanmar.
In volume one, Hiroko talks with Hiroshi Kanda who is in charge of technology management.
Looking towards the Next 100 Years & Breaking Away from Japan’s Much Loved Animated Weather Forecast “Yanboh & Marboh”
Hiroko Kiba: I watched “Yanboh & Marboh” weather forecast on television since I was a child.
When I think of Yanmar only the weather forecast and farming equipment comes to mind, however, in reality Yanmar does business across a wide range of industries.
Hiroshi Kanda: The full lyrics for the “Yanboh & Marboh” theme song are “For farmer’s equipment everyone uses Yanmar. For fishing boat engines everyone uses Yanmar. For diesel generators, diesel pumps and construction work, everyone uses Yanmar.”
That part of the commercial was sometimes omitted meaning that agricultural equipment with a focus on tractors left a much stronger impression on the public.
We stopped broadcasting the commercial in 2014, however in the years prior to that, broadcasting of the commercial was limited to local television stations only. As a result only about 20% of our new employees know about “Yanboh & Marboh.”
On the other hand, in the West, our business developments are more concentrated in the marine industry, predominantly yachts and pleasure boats. Therefore in the West we are better known as a marine engine maker.
Our 100 year anniversary highlighted the importance of globally standardizing our company image and increasing our brand value in order to give us a competitive advantage.
Our Brand Statement has been revised and changed to “A Sustainable Future.”
We have also concisely consolidated our vision for society into four clear aspirations — an energy-saving society, a society where people can work and live with peace of mind, a society where people can enjoy safe and plentiful food, and a society that offers an exciting life filled with rich and fulfilling experiences.
Hiroko Kiba: Yanmar’s approach of firmly pinning down the areas where your strengths lie and building a sense of excitement is truly inspirational.
This desire to enjoy what you do, as a corporation, can really be felt.
And Yanmar’s 100 year legacy of achievements, the confidence that comes with that and your aspirations for the next 100 years even further highlights this fact.
Diversifying Business with Diesel Power
Hiroshi Kanda: The diesel engine has always been the central point of departure for our operations in agriculture, construction and all our business areas. It is the unwavering core of all our business activities.
There are very few companies that can boast this.
Hiroko Kiba: That is certainly true.
Why has Yanmar remained so fixed on diesel engines rather than gasoline engines?
Hiroshi Kanda: During a visit to a trade fair in Germany our founder watched a documentary on the diesel engine. This alerted him to the benefits that diesel engines could have on Japan’s agriculture and fisheries industries if it were made more compact. He returned to Japan with the conviction of turning this idea into a reality.
In less than 18 months he achieved what no other engine manufacturer in the world had done before. He put the world’s first compact industrial diesel engine into practical use.
For us technicians however, achieving this was a complete headache (laughs).
Diesel engines are highly efficient and powerful.
Our founder’s vision “to conserve fuel is to serve mankind” reflects the desire to use each drop of fuel resourcefully; minimizing waste while creating value for the nation and people. The diesel engine fit the criteria for achieving this vision.
Diesel engines can use various fuel types known as bunker C fuel oil or residual fuel oil, meaning that diesel is more cost effective, less volatile and therefore easier to handle and safer than gasoline.
For this reason, agricultural equipment, construction equipment and most marine vessels use diesel engines.
Hiroko Kiba: There was a period when emissions from diesel cars were a major issue. However it seems that since the introduction of clean diesel cars their usage, particularly in Europe, has become increasingly more widespread.
Hiroshi Kanda: That’s correct.
Diesel is often said to be heavy, noisy and pollutant. Yet diesel cars which are equipped with the most recent advanced technology compare favorably with gasoline cars.
Nowadays, trucks which billow out black fumes are no longer seen on our roads.
Technological innovation is negating the drawbacks associated with diesel engines and with that we hope to broaden the spectrum for diesel engine usage.
In Addition to a Highly Efficient Performance, Diesel Fuel Offers More Room for Creativity When it Comes to Optimizing Energy Management
Hiroko Kiba: What sparked Yanmar’s recent focus on the energy sector?
It is quite an unexpected shift.
Hiroshi Kanda: Yanmar also manufactures generator engines for marine vessels and we are amongst the top companies in the world when it comes to the market share for ocean-going vessels.
We wanted to extend our successes on the ocean to the land so our move into the energy supply business started with installing generator engines on a remote island.
Currently, we are applying our achievements and technology to leverage ourselves in various energy related business areas.
One area is cogeneration. When simply producing electricity from fuel the efficiency level is around 40%. Yet, when simultaneously producing hot water or steam from the heat that is created, the efficiency level is increased to around 70-85%.
As Yanmar currently has gas heat pump (GHP) business operations alongside business dealings in climate control systems, we plan to leverage energy systems that combine electricity, thermal and cryogenics as a major area of our business.
We have already introduced our cogeneration systems into factories which require steam as well as hospitals and hotels which use large quantities of hot water.
Our aim is to leverage leading edge technology for efficiency optimization.
Our cogeneration system was introduced into the Syowa Station in Antarctica in 1984 and is used to supply power for lighting, communications equipment as well as for heating and hot water supply.
Even today, we have one Yanmar engineer who is a part of the Antarctic expedition team.
Hiroko Kiba: In the Antarctic where power supply is the difference between life and death, it’s all about having superb durability and reliability.
Yanmar’s new head office also makes use of a wide mix of power sources including cogeneration, wind power, solar power and bioenergy.
The building is in line with what Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry advocates as the ideal energy mix.
Hiroshi Kanda: The new head office building was completed in 2014 in commemoration of our 100 year anniversary.
The building showcases Yanmar’s energy technology and systems and we plan to continue to add in new technologies as we progress.
When we think about energy we are not just thinking about it in terms of efficient usage but also in terms of how we can make it. At Yanmar we are working on the fusion of both of these areas and its optimal management.
In doing so, I believe that we can turn our technology concept— “realizing the maximum prosperity using the minimum resources”— into a reality.
Technology to Create New Value
Hiroko Kiba: Creating value for society is a key phrase in Yanmar’s strategies and vision.
Rather than sacrificing the creation of value in order to protect our environment, we should be placing it at the center.
Can you tell us more about the type of society that Yanmar envisions.
Hiroshi Kanda: Let’s look at energy as an example.
In Japan we have a well established power grid which we take for granted.
However if we look around the world, there are many countries which do not have an adequate power grid.
Our goal is to bring our technology to these locations through means such as the provision of generators.
Living in a society where power doesn’t constantly cut out, where there isn’t constant noise disturbance caused by the sound of an engine motor, and there are no emissions.
In the energy sector our primary purpose should be making energy something that we can all take for granted.
Creating new value in society through technology is one of the key concepts embedded within Yanmar’s new Brand Statement “A Sustainable Future” and therefore achieving sustainable prosperity for both our society and the environment is our top priority as we head into the next 100 years.
We will continue to develop and deliver technology and systems that bring delight to our customers.
Hiroko Kiba: Yanmar’s philosophy of leveraging technology to create new value is a truly admirable outlook.
Thank you for your valuable insight and discussion.
After the Interview
Up until now I was unaware of the degree in which Yanmar is contributing to the energy sector.
They are not just saving energy they are creating energy.
It seems that there is still a wealth of technology behind Yanmar’s 100 year legacy that we still don’t know about.
Next time I would like to delve even deeper into the nitty gritty of Yanmar’s technological abilities.
I’m looking forward to seeing how deep we can go in the upcoming interviews.
Executive Managing Director - Member of the Board
General Manager of Research & Development Unit
Yanmar Co., Ltd.
Joined Yanmar Diesel Co., Ltd. in 1976.
Hiroshi was appointed as Director - Member of the Board, Group Divisional Manager of the Research & Development Center in 2002. By 2009 he had become an Executive Managing Director - Member of the Board and the Group Divisional Manager of the R&D Strategy Division and the Research & Development Center. In 2015 he was appointed as the General Manager of the Research & Development Unit and also retained his position as an Executive Managing Director - Member of the Board.
Joined Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. (TBS) in 1987
where she served as the first female sports presenter for various programs including Tetsuya Chikushi News 23.
In 1992, Hiroko moved to freelance reporting following her marriage to professional baseball player, Tsuyoshi Yoda (current pitching coach for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a baseball team in Japan).
Together with her extensive knowledge in energy facilities, Hiroko participates in councils and commissions for eight different ministries and agencies in Japan including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).
Hiroko has conducted over 300 interviews with industry leaders alongside working as a visiting professor at Chiba University in Japan.
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