June 29th, 2018 | PEOPLE , PRODUCT

【Global People of Yanmar: Italy Series, Volume 5】
Solving issues with technology from around the world. What kind of future is Yanmar aiming at?

"Global People of Yanmar: Italy Series, Volume 5" covers the life of a Yanmar employee assigned to a post abroad. In this last volume of the Italy Series, we look at construction machinery in use in Europe and introduce Yanmar's business. How can technology help solve issues around the world? Mr. Hiramatsu told us about his vision and mission.

Toshifumi Hiramatsu
Affiliated to YANMAR R&D EUROPE S.R.L

Appointed as of April 2017. Before his appointment, he was in charge of developing agricultural robots at the Fundamental Technology Research Division of the Research & Development Center at the Yanmar's Research & Development Unit. At YANMAR R&D EUROPE, he is also engaged in the research of robots for small-size machines.

Table of Contents

  1. An in-depth report on Yanmar machinery in use in Florence
  2. The reason why Mr. Hiramatsu decided to pursue research in the field of robots
  3. Future outlook and expectations concerning work in Italy

An in-depth report on Yanmar machinery in use in Florence

Backhoe SV100 used for roadworks in Siena in the outskirts of Florence
Mr. Vincenzo Vinicolo of the Ariete S.r.l. Company

Florence, which was at the center of Renaissance and Italy, has been described as "beautiful as a flower" and was referred to as "Florentia" in ancient Rome. Meaning "City of Flowers", the name was derived from Flora, the goddess of flowers.
Flourishing thanks to the finance and wool industry during the Middle Ages, the city became the cultural center of the Renaissance under the rule of the Medici family. Blessed with a mild climate, the city is a famous tourist destination offering many cultural heritage sites and bounteous natural beauty.
Special products from this region include not only wine, olives and wheat, but also leather goods, embroidery and jewelry, all of which make good souvenirs.

Many reminders of the Middle Ages can still be seen in Florence today and the city is characterized by winding alleys and narrow cobblestone streets.
For this reason, you can often see small construction machinery by Yanmar in operation throughout the town.
Piero Cascianini, the sales manager working at CGM Group Service, told us about Yanmar products in use in Florence.

Mr. Piero Cascianini, sales manager of CGM Group

The high reliability of Yanmar marine engines led to introduction of Yanmar construction equipment

I have known Yanmar for 27 years.
In Italy, Yanmar enjoys a good reputation as a provider of reliable marine engines, so it comes with an integral sense of trust.

Is Yanmar's Backhoe comfortable?

It's excellent, it's very comfortable to ride in. The driver's seat is wide and comfortable, and the operation is sensitive; it starts moving smoothly as soon as you touch the controls.
Operation is accurate, too.
The type we are using now (SV100)is very comfortable for works at river beds or in the countryside. It is especially suitable for works on unpaved roads.
At present we are doing waterworks and I think that the backhoe's sound emissions are quite low.

An SV38 excavator engaged in roadworks in front of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in the historic quarter of Florence.

Is the excavator (SV38) comfortable?

We've been using Yanmar machinery continuously for around 20 years.
It's very agreeable and is very comfortable for the operator. Yanmar’s small excavators are very well suited for use in the narrow streets of the historic quarter. In terms of sound emission, I would say it is average.
We would like to buy a new machine soon and we're looking at the VIO57.

The VIO57 in operation at an industrial waste disposal facility in Campi, a town adjacent to Florence.
Mr. Stefano Maggini of the Maggini Elio Company

Please tell us about your work and the reason why you chose Yanmar.

Our company handles the processing and management of industrial waste as well as consulting and analyses in this field. Pierro from CGM Group is an old friend of mine and it was he who recommended Yanmar to me. He told me "Buy Yanmar, it's excellent!" (laughs)
For smaller equipment, we are using Yanmar construction machinery (ViO57/ViO17).
We mainly use them for small and medium-sized work.

Are the Backhoes comfortable to use?

The riding comfort is excellent. I think it's a major improvement compared with the old types we used before. Thanks to their compact size, they are very maneuverable and are easy to operate.
They are particularly user-friendly for work that requires precision.

The Yanmar Backhoe VIO17, is also used at the Maggini Elio Company.

According to Mr. Hiramatsu, "it was a very valuable experience to hear the opinions of people who actually use the machinery."
We learnt that Yanmar's good reputation as a provider of reliable marine engines in Europe has led to the introduction of its construction equipment.

The reason Mr. Hiramatsu decided to pursue research in the field of robots

Mr. Hiramatsu in his student days

I became directly interested in agriculture when I was a university student.
At that time, I had the chance to spend some time in Hokkaido to do research on a different topic and I saw someone doing work on a tractor until late at night on a large farm.
When I looked at the person getting off the tractor, I was very surprised to see that it was an elderly man who was in his seventies.
I can still remember that I was shocked to see that even the elderly had to work until late. When I spoke to him, he told me that "with an aging society and the low birthrate, the towns had become depopulated. It is really tiring for those of us left."
Although I was already engaged in research in the field of robotics, I was still in the process of exploring which area I wanted to apply my research.
This experience made me want to contribute something useful to society by robotizing operations in the field of agriculture or construction.
I'm very glad to have the opportunity right now to be engaged in research and development at YANMAR R&D EUROPE in pursuit of this dream.
The research and development activities which I’m involved in have the potential to directly change the future of agriculture or the construction industry, which is enormously rewarding.

A robot tractor and rice-planting machine which Mr. Hiramatsu helped develop.

I joined Yanmar in 2010 after graduating from university and was affiliated to the Research Center of the Research & Development Center. When I was still a new employee, I didn't do any robot research, but was in charge of the control of some parts of rice-planting machines and engaged in the development of a control system for hybrid engines. After that, I started getting involved in robot development and was transferred to the Electronics Development Center in 2015.
This is the department responsible for introducing concepts or controllers developed in the research centers into the real machines and turning them into products.
At this department, I have constantly been dealing with the robot tractor – exactly the automated tractor I had been envisioning since my university days. I was in charge of developing a controller and managed to turn the robot into a product.

Future outlook and expectations concerning work in Italy

The global perspective, which Mr. Hiramatsu discovered after taking on his post in Italy

Since I have always worked in a Japanese research center before coming here, going abroad has made me aware of many things. By getting into contact with different people, I got to know various mentalities and perceptions and became acutely aware that I still have a lot to learn.

This includes the question as to what kind of products can be sold in the future. There are some ideas you cannot come up with if you’re only thinking about it within Japan. After taking on my post abroad, I became aware of many areas where I still need to study or do some research. I think this will be very useful for my future research and development activities.

It was very valuable to experience this "for real", rather than just mentioning the word "global" all the time.
In addition, it has helped me to state my opinion clearly, even if I'm wrong.

At YANMAR R&D EUROPE, research can be divided into two major fields: Energy technology and research surrounding the environment of robots.
Many fields, including Industry 4.0, are further advanced in Europe than in Japan, so my mission consists in adopting new technologies and do research in order to deploy them to Japan and around the world.
"What technologies are sought after not only in Japan, but around the world?" "What are the issues and how can Yanmar contribute to solving them?" I would like to broaden my horizon and think about these questions from a global point of view, continuing to do research which leads to the solving of problems.

These woodchips will be used for a new research project surrounding biofuel.

Yanmar products become more and more widespread around Europe thanks to the reliability and high reputation of marine engines!
Robot research considered from a global perspective leads to development of products needed around the world, and Mr. Hiramatsu contributes his part.

Yanmar will continue to tackle the world’s problems through technology.

【Table of Contents】

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