What is Murata's approach to developing countries such as China, India?
"We have two factories in China, one in Wuxi and one in Shenzhen, making MLCCS and wireless communications modules and power supplies." Murata goes on to indicate that China has become the world's electronics factory, stating that 50 percent of all of Murata's production is shipped to China for assembly into equipment. That equipment then goes all over the world. He adds that Murata is starting to develop design functions in China for power supplies and wireless communications modules.
However, some 80 percent of Murata's production is in Japan while 85 percent of sales are outside of Japan, which makes the company sensitive to exchange rates, Murata said. "So we try to encourage production outside Japan; in China, Thailand, Singapore." The next step is to open an MLCC factory in the Phillipines in 2013, he added.
So after MEMS will Murata continue to move up in complexity and into digital electronics and software?
"We have that capability," says Murata. "We acquired Sychip. They produce wireless communications modules based on the Wi-Fi standard. They also have software capability for protocol for communications module. Using these kind of people we are trying to develop wireless sensor networks, which can be used in smart house; smart way to use electricity, lighting dimmers, airconditioning, temperature monitoring."
Murata said this strategy links into the Internet of Things or IoT which is a popular topic, but particularly in China and Japan. "We're not sure how soon this technology will be used in the market."
When asked why China and Japan are pursuing IoT so aggressively Murata responded: "One reason is the energy crisis in Japan. We have shut down all the nuclear plants. And in China the demand for electricity is increasing very rapidly and they face environmental issues."
As a final question EE Times asked Murata about his company’s approach to supporting startup companies that, because they are agile, can often be source of new technologies that electronics giants may then choose to acquire.
"We always watch the movement of technology. We want to know if new technology will displace some of our business. We always watch those activities at new companies and amongst research people," Murata said, without mentioning funding startups.
"Acquisition is not the only way to extend our technology. We may collaborate in partnerships. We do some investment of funding for new development at companies and with universities."
VTI Technologies in Vantaa near Helsinki is renamed Murata Electronics Oy
There are already many players in the emerging IoT market, from sensor makers to communication component supplier to solution providers. What is lacking is product that makes sense of sensor data and provides actionable analytics to the users in a familiar form.
Seems like the early adopters are the ones who don't really care much about the energy bill (at least in the US!) but like the aspect of controlling everything from where ever they are. I know of many friends who ponied up couple of grand $$ for these so they could show off turning the alarm on from their iPhone!
Is not exactly IoT but wireless sensor networks. These will enable the wireless control and sensing of energy consumption and will allow to save energy by turning of lights or heating or air conditioning when not required.
"One reason is the energy crisis in Japan. We have shut down all the nuclear plants. And in China the demand for electricity is increasing very rapidly and they face environmental issues." - Why IoT is related to high demand for electricity and environmental issues?
Murata is well known for its portfolio of passive product offerings. This is a very good strategic move made by Murata for its growth as MEMS is one of the next big things in the automotive and medical electronics.
Murata has a very strong expertise in the design and production of analog components, it will be a very good use of this expertise in the design and development of MEMS. This will be a very good step for quality analog components.