D-person Vol. 03 To Provide More Comfortable Buses Around the World — Expanding the Bus Air Conditioner Business Globally

Sep. 25, 2020
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"D-person" is a series that introduces energetic DENSO associates from around the world.
The third issue of D-person features Daisuke Ota from CV Thermal Systems Engineering Div..

PROFILE: Daisuke Ota, CV Thermal Systems Engineering Div.
DENSO’s thermal business aims to offer safe and comfortable systems around the world by harnessing eco-friendly and thermally efficient technologies. We take a look at how Daisuke Ota, who works for the CV Thermal Systems Engineering Div., is increasing the use of bus air conditioners in the global market.

Quality first — Improving the quality of bus air conditioners
I work in the bus air conditioner business. Obviously, product quality is of paramount importance. To maximize the performance and quality of bus air conditioners, the main units and peripheral components, such as compressors, wire harnesses, and connection piping, must be installed for each vehicle (Note 1). In foreign markets, new buses do not come with air conditioners, which are often retrofitted as options. DENSO must produce appropriate designs that deliver excellent comfort and quality, based on its judgment and experience. It is necessary consider where the air conditioner will be installed, the environment where the buses are operated and for how many years, the temperature and weather of the local region, and how customers maintain the buses.

Installation requires various specific skills that take many years of experience to acquire, including how best to mount the compressors and arrange the wire harnesses. For example, when installing a compressor, we look for a space in which to install the compressor in the small engine bay and determine the piping path between many packed components, just like threading a needle, to avoid defects. Overseas, automakers often don’t provide vehicle design drawings, so we visit customers to take measurements and optimize the design for each vehicle. Because the installation design depends largely on the experience and judgment of the staff, we must cope with quality differences caused by business expansion and preserve DENSO’s quality. The CV Thermal Systems Business Unit (“CV Thermal Business Unit”) where I work has compiled its know-how gained over many years into manuals, and has standardized the series of tasks from installation design to final quality check. As a result, we’ve achieved stable quality that is appreciated by the users of our bus air conditioners.

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Spread the use of bus air conditioners in North America — Participating in the North America bus project as an engineering representative
In 2017, I was appointed engineering representative of the North America bus project, which has the mission of expanding the bus air conditioner business in North America. At the time, we had no dealings or leverage with customers in the U.S. and Mexico, and did not even offer repair services. Therefore, a North America bus project team was organized in DENSO Products and Services Americas, Inc., gathering members from various departments including sales, engineering, and service, to increase the use of DENSO’s comfortable, high-quality bus air conditioners in North America. The team, which consisted of three Americans, two Mexicans, and two Japanese, steadily visited prospective customers, including bus companies. They allowed us to build our bus air conditioners into their vehicles, and to evaluate the performance.

International teamwork — Commitment to quality from the user’s viewpoint
We carefully ensured the quality of installation and developed human resources so that we could deliver 100% customer satisfaction with our bus air conditioners. We decided to use manuals, including installation design instruction sheets and vehicle performance evaluation sheets, which the CV Thermal Business Unit had been using to pass on the know-how of our predecessors. These manuals contain rules for work and standardize the procedures, from installation design to quality checking after installation, to avoid mistakes and omissions, and were very helpful for training the local staff. This reminded me of the importance of standardized work, so that any worker can do their work correctly and ensure quality. When problems were found, we closely monitored the vehicles for days with team members of the group company, with support from head office. We worked really hard to maintain the quality of installation, because we must gain the trust of customers to make the business successful. The whole team is determined to resolve any problems completely through the sweat, dust, and oil.

We frequently visited customers, immediately dealt with unexpected problems, communicated closely with customers, and carried out kaizen repeatedly. Local customers valued this, making comments such as, “This is exactly what we would expect from DENSO!,” which greatly encouraged us.

Creating a safe and comfortable cabin space around the world — Aiming to become the global leader in the CV thermal business
To deliver fuel-efficient, safe, and comfortable bus air conditioners that are appreciated by users around the world, the CV Thermal Business Unit set the goal of becoming the global leader of the CV thermal business by 2025. All members, including those at global group companies, have been working hard to achieve the goal. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have introduced new solutions, such as web-based remote installation support and have succeeded in improving quality even further. I am now working on expanding the air conditioner business for the global electric bus market, which is expected to grow dramatically. I will use the experience I gained during my time in North America. Customers are always top priority, and I will help solve their problems and propose solutions as a reliable partner.

Motto: “Always appreciate others”
The power of one person is limited; results come from working with others. I always try to appreciate them.

Impression about Ota
We asked Yoshiyuki Omori of DENSO’s CV Thermal Systems Engineering Div., who is the supervisor of Ota.

Mr. Ota is not only kind and gentle but also firm and cool-headed. He has a positive attitude at work and always smiles no matter how hard the task. He succeeds beyond expectations. He also communicates closely with subordinates and actively solves problems, serving as a highly reliable leader for his team.

Opening up the North American market where DENSO’s bus air conditioners were still unknown was a daunting mission, and he never avoided the thankless tasks. He learned how to communicate well with customers and take action, and was also willing to speak English. He came back as a mature global engineer.

With the customers’ viewpoint in mind, he unified the team and always remained positive. He is a truly versatile and highly reliable member, both as my subordinate and as a team leader.

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    Omori, supervisor (on the left), Ota (on the right)

Note 1 Installation
To fit special components and systems into vehicles manufactured by automakers