NITTOKU Bolsters Motor Business for Electric Vehicles

In its aim to become a global precision factory automation (FA) engineering company, NITTOKU CO., LTD. has been accelerating the expansion of its business domains. The company puts its manufacturing technologies for automatic coil winding machine at the base of these efforts. As part of this, the company has been expanding its motor business for electric vehicles (EVs).

NITTOKU has been strengthening its motor business for EVs (At Automotive World in Tokyo in January).

On Road to Precision FA Engineering Company

NITTOKU has nurtured a wide range of technologies in the manufacture of motors and coil winding machines. These technologies include control, tension, information processing, assembly and processing, handling, transfer and splicing technologies. By making the most of these technologies, the company has been accelerating the expansion of its businesses to transform itself into a global precision FA engineering company.

Transfer Systems

Moreover, NITTOKU has developed a transfer module for production automation line as the linear index transfer system (LITs) FA platform system. Further, the company has created other variations, such as horizontal circulation transfer and vertical circulation transfer systems. With the expanded models, it was able to meet various production styles, such as variable-mix, variable-volume production.

Also, the company has commercialized the FLEX-1 modular transfer system, which adopts a linear motor. 

Opportunities from Open Innovation

Leveraging the LITs system and the FLEX-1 platform, NITTOKU has been embracing open innovation with unique companies. These companies have one-of-a-kind technologies and specialized manufacturing expertise.  

Nobushige Kondo, President of NITTOKU Co., Ltd. says, “It is difficult for Japan’s small- and medium-size companies to survive the global competition on its own. However, opportunities for a small- and medium-size company emerge as we promote the Blue Lake strategy through open innovation with unique companies with original technologies and manufacturing knowhow. Thus, we will make the most of LITs and FLEX-1 in advancing open innovation.” 

Nobushige Kondo, President, NITTOKU CO., LTD.

Focus on Motors for EV

As part of efforts to grow into a precision FA engineering company, NITTOKU focuses on EV motors. 

According to Kondo, electrification of vehicles has been advancing around the world, including Japan, the United States, and countries in Europe. Meanwhile, installation of production lines for EV motors requires investments of about 1 billion yen (US$7.8 million) per line. In Japan, there are many companies with excellent element technologies.

“As we provide production equipment for EV motors that meet the needs of the global market, we can enhance added values of those technologies, Thus, it eventually leads to our company’s growth,” says Kondo.  

Along this line, NITTOKU has developed a new winding technology for EV motors. It enables coil winding even if the gap between slots is small. Thus, it achieves downsizing while maintaining characteristics comparable to existing integrated stator cores.

In addition, NITTOKU established a new company IMD CO., LTD. for the development of motors in 2020 in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture. With this, the company has bolstered its consultation capabilities ranging from motor design, trial production, evaluation, research and development of equipment to mass production. 

IMD handles various motors, including permanent magnet synchronous motors, induction motors, and switched reluctance SR motors. The company develops and supports the development of a wide variety of motors, ranging from in-vehicle motors, such as traction motors and high-speed motors, to small and medium-size motors for general industries and home electric appliances.  

Moreover, IMD has put in place an interactive environment to allow discussion among development engineers of partner companies and universities, and IMD’s staff.

In 2020, NITTOKU entered full-scale partnership with Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. In November of the same year, the company commercialized a production system for EV motors. Moreover in 2021, it released an upgraded system onto the market. 

The jointly developed production system is based on a Blue-IR hybrid laser BRACE, which combines a blue direct diode laser (DDL) commercialized by Furukawa Electric and a near infrared (IR) fiber laser. It achieves top class copper welding quality, depth and processing speed in the industry.