Contributing to the Development of Communications Infrastructure to Bring More Comfortable Living through Functional Enhancements and Miniaturization of Products
With the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the IoT (Internet of Things), the era of exchanging enormous amounts of information at high speed is upon us.
Beryllium copper products widely used in ceramic components for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and electronics components that we develop and manufacture, as well as smartphones, home appliances, automobiles, industrial equipment, etc., are closely associated with such next-generation information infrastructure.
The NGK Group provides products that meet the constantly evolving needs of society by leveraging its unique differentiation technologies for materials and manufacturing processes.
Accelerating Capital Investment in Response to Strong Demand
The Electronics Business Group on the whole posted increased sales and decreased profits compared to the previous year. This is attributable to the fact that sales remained strong backed by growth in the semiconductor market while there was a delay in recovery of demand for ceramic packages.
In the high-performance ceramics business, strong results were posted as capital investment by semiconductor manufacturers remained at a high level on the back of increasingly multilayered and miniaturized semiconductors. We also accelerated capital investments in response to strong demand.
In the metal-related products business, sales increased only slightly due to the appreciation of the yen despite an increase in shipment of beryllium copper products for industrial equipment in the Chinese market.
In the electronic components business, sales decreased as a result of the delay in investment in base stations for mobile phones in China, which negatively impacted the demand for ceramic packages.
Increased Sales and Profits Expected on the Back of Continued Booming of the Semiconductor Market
Increased sales and profits are expected for fiscal 2017 in the Electronics Business Group as a whole on the back of the continued booming of the semiconductor market.
In the high-performance ceramics business, capital investment by semiconductor manufacturers and foundries will remain at a high level. In order to respond to robust demand, we will expand production areas of existing plants and build new plants while focusing on the development of next-generation products in line with the increasing integration of semiconductors.
In the metal-related products business, growth has been slowing in the market for beryllium copper products and the prices of raw materials have been rising. We will redevelop our revenue structure of existing products and promote the expansion of sales of new materials and products for new applications with the aim of achieving the steady growth of profits.
In the electronic components business, we have been ramping up mass production of bonded wafers for SAW filters, looking ahead to the expansion of the high-performance filter market for mobile communication devices. As we anticipate that demand for ceramic packages will remain flat for existing products, we will accelerate the development of new products with the aim of contributing to earnings as soon as possible.
Achieving Mass Production of High-Function Products
With the arrival of the era of IoT and AI, a wide range of technological innovations are expected to emerge in response to the increasing volume of information and communications as well as next-generation high-speed communications. There will be opportunities for the Electronics Business Group to expand and generate new products in line with such technological innovations.
For example, future growth is expected through business expansion by launching new models of bond wafers, ceramic packages and beryllium copper strips in the areas of infrastructure development for next-generation communications and enhancement of high-speed communications and by delivering high-functional ceramic components for semiconductor manufacturing equipment in response to increased demand for semiconductor memories for data centers. On the manufacturing and development front, we have been promoting the establishment of optimal production and development systems throughout the value chain.
In the high-performance ceramics business, we respond to customer demand for increased production by developing cooperative systems (capital investment, equipment lending, guidance on manufacturing, etc.) with subcontracted processing plants. We work on the development of next-generation manufacturing equipment in close coordination with the development programs of customers.
In the metal-related products business, we promote the integration and standardization of specifications in collaboration with material manufacturers and customers, thereby addressing the inefficiency of low-volume high-mix manufacturing.
In the electronic components business, we share key factors for quality control with material manufacturers in order to differentiate ourselves in terms of product characteristics, thus achieving mass production of high-function products. Based on material and molding technologies, we carry out a broad range of joint development projects and prototype making with companies and research institutes in various fields with the aim of developing new products.
While conventional SAW (Surface Acoustic Wave) filters suffer from the disadvantage of being susceptible to a high degree of expansion and contraction based on temperature, NGK’s bonded wafers realize a significant reduction in thermal expansion, thus offering solutions for next-generation LTE that require filtering functions with higher precision.