Apr 20, 2023

TECH & DESIGN

Developing “Nice-to-Have” Products by DENSO-style Advanced Development

— Flow of theme selection and technology development, and examples in the electrification field

DENSO Tech Links #16 focused on the theme of “Automotive components change the future of vehicle electrification!” and discussed the electrification of vehicles from DENSO’s unique perspective as an automotive components supplier. Harumi Horihata of the Electrification Systems Development Div. took the podium to explain the flow of theme selection and technology development for DENSO-style advanced development.

*This article is a report about "DENSO Tech Links Tokyo #16" held by DENSO Corporation on October 20, 2022.

  • Electrification Systems Development Div. DENSO CorporationHarumi Horihata

Contents of this article

    Self-introduction

    Harumi Horihata: I will explain “advanced development of electrification.” Let me start by introducing myself briefly. I joined DENSO in 2006 and was assigned to the alternator development department.

    At first, I was put in charge of rotating devices. In 2008, I was assigned to the development of inverters. Later, I was involved in developing custom ICs for inverters and motor control systems. The scope of technology in my career gradually expanded to systems. At present, I am in charge of vehicle systems and business planning.

    Regarding my private life, I have two children, and I took maternity leave and childcare leave for five years in total.

    DENSO-style Advanced Development

    Let’s get down to business. Today, I will explain DENSO-style advanced development and give some examples.

    First, I will explain DENSO-style advanced development. The flow of advanced development consists mainly of three phases: theme selection, technology development, and mass production. Today, I will focus on theme selection and technology development.

    The first phase is theme selection. At DENSO, a development roadmap is created based on the forecasting/backcasting approach.

    Some of you may not be familiar with the terms “forecasting” and “backcasting,” so let me explain them. Forecasting means to envision the future that can be predicted based on the present situation. Backcasting means to envision the future that people seek to attain based on a desirable future and then to forecast backwards to the present.

    Flow of Theme Selection

    Now, I will discuss the main topic: how DENSO creates its development roadmap based on the forecasting/backcasting approach. This is DENSO’s roadmap for developing technologies that underpin “reliability and safety” and “carbon neutrality” in the future.

    This slide shows an example. We forecast the future based on the PEST (Politics, Economy, Society, and Technology) framework.

    We forecast vehicles required in the future and create a hypothesis about the needs. We then consider how DENSO can contribute to support the hypothesis.

    This is an illustrated roadmap. The actual roadmap sets milestones that guide DENSO into the future.

    This also applies to Power Cards, whichHashimoto explained earlier.A roadmap is created to select a theme and identify “technologies required for the roadmap.” DENSO carries out development based on the roadmap to continuously develop elemental technologies and plan products that meet the market needs.

    You may wonder why a supplier plans products. Let me explain using familiar examples.

    DENSO is a manufacturer, and you are consumers. This slide shows an “OEM”, or original equipment manufacturer. In the automotive industry, manufacturers of finished cars, such as Toyota, and manufacturers of products with their own brands, such as Sony and Panasonic, are referred to as OEMs.

    How do you listen to music nowadays? Previously, people bought CDs. But today, many people download music tracks or use subscription services.

    How do you check the route to your destination? Previously, people used maps. Today, many people use car navigation systems and apps.

    These products were not planned by consumers. You use these products because you “like” the products that are offered by OEMs.

    A supplier makes a suggestion, “What about this product? We think it will be popular.” An OEM uses the product, and if the OEM likes it, it will turn into a standard technology.

    Having said that, you may still wonder if OEMs really adopt DENSO’s product plans.As Kudo mentioned,we do business with various customers. Our group companies operate in 35 countries and regions, and we are involved in various activities in the global market, so we receive a lot of feedback.

    We also offer various products in diverse business fields, including automotive and non-automotive products, material technologies, ICs, and systems. Namely, DENSO has the elemental technologies on which these products are based. We have the environment and technologies necessary to offer suggestions and plans, and that is what OEMs and society expect from DENSO.

    Flow of Technology Development

    Next, I will explain technology development.

    DENSO-style technology development is characterized by self-verification of formulated hypotheses. I’ll explain the flow of technology development based on the V-shaped process.

    Let’s assume that a user wants to make something possible. Requirements are determined on respective levels, such as: “This function is needed.” “It should operate in this way.” “This product should be delivered.” “This technology is required.” This is how the development proceeds.

    What is DENSO’s scope of work? You may think that DENSO is responsible for integration testing and unit testing because it is a components supplier, but in fact DENSO is responsible for the entire process. We even conduct verifications on the user level in collaboration with OEMs.

    We verify value based on hypotheses that we formulate. We conduct tests and find out what is truly needed. DENSO’s strength is the many core technologies it has created from these efforts.

    Examples of Theme Selection and Technology Development

    Let me give some examples. First, I will talk about theme selection using “flying cars” as an example. This is a roadmap in the mobility field, which was prepared based on the forecasting/backcasting approach that I explained earlier. The need for flying cars was identified based on what kind of transportation system will be desired in the future.

    Next, we considered how DENSO could contribute to meeting the identified need. We decided to contribute by our motor and inverter technologies that have been cultivated in the automotive field. This is how we selected the theme. DENSO can make a unique contribution by utilizing its mass production technology in the automotive field. Our cost advantages are applicable to flying cars, where we can contribute through mass production and thus offer products to many users.

    Technologies that are refined to deliver excellent performance in flying cars will be fed back to vehicles in the future. This is another unique contribution that DENSO can make.

    Next, I’ll give an example of technology development, namely verification.

    A test environment is required to conduct tests. A proving ground is necessary to make evaluations on the vehicle level. These photos show proving grounds owned by DENSO, which we have at various locations in Japan.

    There is a proving ground next to our design center office so that we can immediately make evaluations when we want to conduct checks. We also have a proving ground in Hokkaido for making in-depth evaluations in cold regions. The photo in the upper right shows a proving ground for conducting evaluations at night.

    We cannot wait for rain to make evaluations when it’s raining, so we built an indoor evaluation facility to simulate nighttime and rainy environments.

    This photo shows an evaluation of an image recognition sensor. We built a testing facility to verify the accuracy of these sensors, where we conduct vehicle evaluations with OEMs.

    DENSO is responsible for all verifications in technology development and quality assurance.

    We strive to deliver “nice-to-have” products, which people want to have, by utilizing DENSO’s technologies.

    That is all for my presentation about advanced development.

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