After joining Murata Manufacturing in 1983, Satoshi Sonoda was stationed at the Tokyo Branch. In 1987, he was dispatched to Murata Electronics Singapore (Pte.) Ltd., and in 1998, he was dispatched to Murata Electronics North America, Inc. to work on sales and planning. After being dispatched to Murata Company Limited in Hong Kong in 2004, Murata (China) Investment Co., Ltd. in Shanghai in 2007, and Murata Electronics North America, Inc. in 2009, he was assigned to become the Vice President and Deputy Director of the Device Business Unit in 2011. He has been holding the current position since 2012. His hobbies are running, cycling and reading.
Stable growth is projected for the automobile market.
For Japanese automobile industry having the world market in its scope, the key to strong growth lies in growing markets of emerging nations.
Meanwhile, in advanced nations, demands for electrification and electronic devices are expected to accelerate due to safety features for safe driving and accident prevention becoming mandatory, and EVs and HEVs forming a new market. Murata started supplying car radio-related devices to the automobile industry over 40 years ago, and since then, we have made many contributions to the industry through entertainment products including car audios and navigation systems.
Ceramic resonators were also introduced to the driving system 25 years ago and upheld the very stable timing device business to this day.
How do we capitalize on our track record to penetrate new and growing markets? Cars must be safe, yet must be comfortable and fun at the same time.
As Murata's looks in the direction of its own future endeavors, they are in sync with the very direction the automobile industry is aiming at. Murata now can finally fulfill the dream of fully contributing to the automobile industry.
Automobiles are becoming a mobile IT equipment with tremendous amounts of useful data.
Name of the game will be how we gather and integrate such information.
This is the area Murata's sensor and communication technologies will shine.
Already More Than 40 Years We Have Been Working with the Automobile Industry
It has been a long time since Murata started supplying devices to the automobile industry. In 1971, General Motors (GM) introduced Murata's ceramic filters to its car radios. This was the result of efforts by Akira Murata, the founder of Murata Manufacturing who traveled to the United States and aggressively pioneered the market. Getting fully involved with the automobile industry was Murata's big dream then. Over 40 years ago, we built a plant in the United States and started production locally.
Ceramic resonators were introduced to the automobile industry about 25 years ago, and their market continues to enjoy steady sales to this day. This is so-called timing device, and is used to generate a reference signal (clock) for electronically controlled circuits. Its use started with the car radios, and was later used for engine control. Monolithic ceramic capacitors are general purpose devices also widely used in automobiles.
Developing Products Keeping Several Years in Scope Contributing to Information System Integration
Time flows more slowly in the automobile market compared with the consumer equipment market. As automobiles have long life cycles, their development period is 5 to 10 years. Consequently, us component manufacturers develop automotive components keeping a few years in scope. Murata mainly caters to Tier 1 car electrification equipment manufacturers who directly supply their products to automakers. Suppliers including that of car navigation systems are aiming at shifting from manufacturing in-vehicle information terminals to vehicle information system integration.
In the far future, one possible area Murata may contribute to the automobile industry is drivers' bio-information sensing. Although collaborations with Tier 0 manufacturers (automakers) and Tier 1 manufacturers (electrification equipment manufacturers) will be essential, we should propose new solutions to monitor driver conditions by sensing heart rate with a pressure sensor or sense CO2 concentration (a cause of sleepiness) with a CO2 sensor. Cars are already IT systems on wheels, and will continue to become smarter.
For Cars, Safety Is the Top Priority This Is Where Sensing Technology, Murata's Strong Suit, Can Contribute
Murata is currently contributing to the automobile industry through its sensing technology by supplying information to drivers. Piezoelectric ceramics is used in the ultrasonic sensor of PAS (Parking Assist System) , which emits ultrasound and receives the sound reflected from an object. PAS is implemented by calculating the distance to an object measuring the time it takes to emit and receive ultrasound. We will develop units with longer detection distance for more advanced intelligent sensing applications such as autonomous parking system and blind spot detection (BSD) .
As electric stability control (ESC) is becoming mandatory in many countries, Murata is aiming at introducing many devices including accelerometer, gyro sensor and a combo sensor offering both features for ESC units. In the United States, TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) is already mandated. This system continuously monitors tire pressure and temperature while a car is in motion using sensors with built-in transmitters located inside tires and transmits resulting data wirelessly. Demands for Murata's accelerometers are quickly increasing as they were introduced to the wake up function for the system in order to conserve power consumption of the TPMS.
Ultrasonic Sensor for PAS (Parking Assist System)
Ultrasonic sensors have become a key device for a wide range of applications including distance measurement systems, parking assist systems and theft alarm systems. Murata has succeeded in development and mass-production of small and highly reliable pin connection type, waterproof ultrasonic sensors suitable for mass-production based on Murata's own long-standing ceramic technology and ultrasonic sensor design technology. Waterproof ultrasonic sensors, mainly used for parking assist systems, are expected to have very strong demands as the number of cars sold in the emerging market, and usage ratio of parking assist systems grow. In addition to waterproof types, Murata supplies various open structure type, and high-frequency type aerial ultrasonic sensors for a wide range of applications.
Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 ･･･
Tier means strata or levels. In the automobile industry, the top level contractors supplying parts and products directly to automakers are called Tier 1. Tier 2 supplies products as well as modules and components to comprise the products to Tier 1 companies. Tier 3 companies further supply items to Tier 2 companies. Automakers, that manufacture finished products, are called Tier 0. Average gasoline- and diesel-driven cars as well as hybrids are made up of about 30,000 components, and many of them are modularized together to be assembled on the line. Modularized products are delivered directly from Tier 1 companies to assembly plants. Typical automakers deal with over 100 companies in Tier 1 alone. Some Tier 1 companies are owned by Tier 0 companies and are often located near Tier 0 assembly plants to supply components. Although Murata is either a Tier 2 or Tier 3 company, components we supply are highly technical with advanced features, making it essential for us to gather information from Tier 0 and Tier 1 companies prior to development and production.