Original Product Story
Operators on site taught me the real value of a product.
When I joined Kyodo, the company was just developing semiconductor-related products. We had no sample product. We had to start from scratch. Then, we had an inquiry from an electric manufacturer that a different division in Kyodo had business with. This served as a catalyst for the development of our original product, i.e. the probe card container.
A probe card is a jig that is used for electric testing of an integrated circuit (IC) formed on a silicon wafer during the wafer inspection process in the course of IC production. It is an expensive precision apparatus and one sheet costs millions or tens of millions of yen. Operators used to put it in a duralumin container and place the container on a handcart to move around or store on a shelf in a plant. The case weighs about 10 kg and the card 15 kg. So, they weigh about 25 kg total. It is very hard for operators to just load and unload the case. What is more, as the content is extremely expensive, they need to be extremely careful.
It might be easier just to replace duralumin with synthetic resin to reduce the weight. But it does not result in Kyodo's original product unmatched by competitors. I listened to the opinions of operators over and over again. In the processes where we refine the product to satisfy customer needs and even after prototyping, we tried to respond to the requests of operators on-site and made improvements again and again. Finally, we completed a new product. In Kyodo's probe card container, you will find our ingenuity and technologies that are incomparable with others. One year and a half had passed, when the product was completed.
Pressure from new product development
Before joining Kyodo, I taught at a private after-hours school. So, the new job was not my specialty at all. In addition, the management expected much from the division, because it was a new business. I was at the front and received directions and expectations directly. The pressure was great but it accelerated my growth. It was an outstanding opportunity, when I look back now, that I had to do everything related to product development. As a newcomer, developing a product means the need to know and experience everything about the sites where the product is produced and used. Although my job description was technical sales, I was responsible for everything from visiting a customer, listening to their requests, mapping out detailed product plans, making a drawing, meeting with production staff, assembling a prototype, and reporting to management. I did nothing but product development for 18 month.
It may seem an over hasty job assignment. Now, the production development phase was over and the project is in the production phase. I undertake the task of teaching the assembly of the product I developed in Taiwan. I would not have imagined this would have happened when I joined the company.
Customers from the U.S. and Singapore
When an original product was completed, business conditions changed.
One is a change caused by an external factor. This product was originally developed for one client company. Then, we received inquiries from other companies and horizontal expansion of business started. They may not use the product as is. They may have unique requests. But, now I am somewhat confident in our business, and I directly communicate with companies in the U.S. and Singapore.
The other is a change that occurred within myself. I realized that requests from customers and pressure from the company are the sources of my motivation for business. I can listen to opinions from the workplace. We have Kyodo's production technologies on a global basis and the "Try it" spirit. Now, I am confident that I can continue to develop new products.