May 28, 2009,15:43 +0900(JST) Automotive Engineering Exposition 2009

Automotive Engineering Exposition 2009 was held for three days from May 20, in Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall, Kanagawa prefecture.

Sumitomo Electric Group boothWhen we say Japan’s auto-related exhibition, you might think of Tokyo Motor Show because it is probably the biggest and most famous show in our nation. However, while the motor show features automobiles themselves, this engineering exposition focuses on a wide range of auto technologies. This year, 320 companies participated in the expo and most of them were the manufacturers of automotive parts, materials, and testing and evaluation equipment.
Although our automotive business is still in a difficult situation due to the drop in global demand in the market since last autumn, we took part in the exposition as the Sumitomo Electric Group.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the expo myself, but the Group made the most of this opportunity mainly to display and demonstrate our products and technologies, which are expected to help tackle a great challenge for the auto industry: safety improvement and environment-friendliness.

In our booth, we displayed wiring harnesses using environmentally-friendly halogen-free cable, magnet wire for hybrid automobile motors and ZnS lenses for far-infrared ray (FIR) cameras to visualize passers-by in the dark, and demonstrated the camera. The motor of a superconducting electric car, which Sumitomo Electric prototyped last year for the first time in the world as I introduced here once before, was also displayed.

Demonstration using our superconductive technologiesDuring this event, we conducted magnetic levitation experiments on site with an induced current generated by coils of superconductive wire and liquid nitrogen to show visitors how superconductive technology works. This demonstration developed in a dialogue style between Dr. Dolittle and his assistant, who were Sumitomo Electric’s engineer and a booth girl. They explained the principle of superconducting phenomenon in a clear and comprehensible manner. Because of a great deal of interest in superconductive technologies, and also the wonderful matching of the assistant’s narrative skills and Dr. Dolittle’s unsophisticated character, this performance attracted so many spectators that the aisle in front of our booth was filled every experiment.

Letter of appreciationThis exposition was the 18th event started in 1992. We received a letter of appreciation from the event organizer, Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc., for our regular attendance for 16 consecutive times since the expo’s third year. By proactively promoting our R&D and manufacturing creative products represented by the exhibits above, we intend to contribute to the advancement of auto technologies, and thus to the further development of society.

May 22, 2009,08:40 +0900(JST) Shubatsu-shiki

Shubatsu-shikiIn the middle of May, a main part of WinD Lab, a new laboratory building at the Osaka Works, was completed. To celebrate the establishment, we held a shubatsu-shiki, a Shinto ceremony for purification. The ceremony was presided over by a Shinto priest of nearby Ubusuna Shrine.

Although I couldn’t attend the ceremony due to another commitment, many executives from the Osaka Works and the R&D-related divisions gathered to participate. During the ceremony, tamagushi, sakaki-tree branches, were offered to a deity with the hope of accelerated development of new products and technologies and workplace safety as well as the Group’s prosperity.

New laboratory buildingThe Osaka Works, established in 1916, has the longest history among all Sumitomo Electric business offices. The need was seen for the reconstruction of R&D-centered facilities in the Osaka Works, and three years ago we decided to launch the reconstruction project to mark the 110th anniversary of Sumitomo Electric’s founding. Following that decision, the steering committee of the project held a total of 34 monthly meetings. Representatives from the R&D, facility designs and corporate staff section concerted all their efforts, discussing the building designs and floor layouts.

I heard that, during the ceremony held at the new building’s stairwell entrance hall, the voice of the Shinto priest echoed resonantly, creating a very solemn atmosphere. We hope that this new building will connect our discrete laboratories and research facilities more closely as the hub of our R&D, promoting interaction among researchers from different fields. I’m sure that such technical communication will facilitate the generation of new products and technologies across research organizational boundaries.

We still have many things to do, such as relocating research equipment and constructing an assembly hall. It will take another year to complete the entire reconstruction project. I’m sure, however, that the completion of the main part of the building marks a great accomplishment to those who had been engaged in the project. I hope that the entire project will be completed without any problems.

Teiso, the kanji characters that I wroteI wrote the letters of teiso, meaning “foundation establishment,” in kanji characters on the building’s cornerstone, in wish for the continued prosperity of the Sumitomo Electric Group and the R&D Division, which is one of the Group’s important foundations.

The “WinD” of WinD Lab stands for “Win Development.” The building is a new laboratory for winning development races.

Now that the new laboratory building is completed, I hope that the staff members who will work there do their best to quickly launch new businesses in growing fields: “Environment and Resource Conservation,” “Life Science,” and “Safe, Secure and Ubiquitous Society.” These fields will play a major role in promoting the Group’s further growth.

May 13, 2009,09:16 +0900(JST) Our volleyball club's activities (2)

Another unique activity by Sumitomo Electric's volleyball club is the Second Volleyball Practice for Mothers, held on Saturday, May 9, after the consecutive holidays, by the Osaka Works' volleyball club as part of its community service activities.

Volleyball practiceIn the event, held for the first time in two years, the Sumitomo Electric team manager, coaches and 23 players served as instructors for about 30 participants from elementary and junior high school PTAs in Konohana Ward, Osaka City.

The practice started in the afternoon and lasted for three hours. The practice menu, arranged by the players, included a warm-up, skill-specific exercises focusing on passes, spikes and so on, and practice games, for which the participants were divided into four teams. There were some difficulties involved because, I was told, there was the gender difference, instructors' advice was not always correctly understood and some players were not very good at verbal explanations. Nevertheless, both the participants and instructors were serious, and worked hard.

Group photoA Second Practice was proposed, organized and realized proactively by the volleyball club members and the Konohana Ward PTAs, as in the first event. I hope that such opportunities will strengthen the local community's support and affection for Sumitomo Electric volleyball club, and that the participants' energetic enthusiasm will invigorate the volleyball players and further develop their leadership skills.

As a sports lover, I have been saddened by the recent news of successive temporary or permanent closures of corporate sports clubs. As for Sumitomo Electric, we intend to continue supporting our corporate sporting activities, which we hope surpass the limits of mere in-house activities and develop into local community-based sports promotion and effective community building, as in the case of the special joint training program I wrote about in the last entry, the Volleyball Practice for Mothers, and the track and field practice for junior high school students jointly organized with Itami City, with Mr. Koji Ito, Assistant Professor at Konan University, as the instructor.

May 12, 2009,09:02 +0900(JST) Our volleyball club's activities (1)

I'd like to tell you about the rather special activities of Sumitomo Electric's nine-man volleyball club, regarding which I've already written a few entries in this blog.

Each year, during the consecutive holidays in early May, our volleyball club takes the lead in organizing a special joint-training program, gathering top-level teams from across the country. It's been 12 years since this organizer's role was handed on from Mitsubishi Electric to Sumitomo Electric. This year, on May 3 and 4, 18 teams in total, comprising 10 teams from the Kansai Area - including the teams from Sumitomo Electric's Osaka and Itami Works - and 8 teams from the rest of Japan, participated in this program featuring reinforced training.

This training program doubles as training for umpires. This year, about 30 Class-A umpires from all over Japan participated in the training to improve their judging skills, taking advantage of practice games. The umpires, whose full-time occupations include municipal assembly member, schoolteacher and corporate employee, are all volunteers and took part in the training program voluntarily, at their own cost. I was quite impressed to learn that Japan's volleyball community is supported by such dedicated people.

Unlike official competitions, the practice games are held in a more relaxed atmosphere and provide ideal opportunities to try out new tactics and players in preparation for actual games. I was told that Sumitomo Electric's Osaka Works team, three of whose regular players of last year have retired, also tried a new formation. There seem to have been moments when slight concern arose regarding the team's new composition. I sincerely hope that the team will be able to work out rough edges in regular training toward the national championships.

The special joint training program also provides its participants with the pleasure of meeting players from other teams during and between training sessions. This year, a party was held in Sumitomo Metal Industries' facilities, where the participants enjoyed meeting friends old and new, and talking about volleyball and other topics.

Participation in this program represents some difficulties, since it takes up a substantial block of time during the precious consecutive holidays and involves not inconsiderable expenses. Despite this, I sincerely hope that those involved continue their efforts so as to preserve this fine tradition, just as volleyball players do their best to keep the ball in the air -- one major pleasure of playing volleyball.

Incidentally, Sumitomo Electric's Osaka Works volleyball team practices toward the goal of reconciling work and volleyball and improving themselves as persons under the banner of "i-kyu den-shin (heart-to-heart communication using the ball)." I look forward to seeing the continuous progress of the team and the individual team members.

SUMITOMO ELECTRIC President CEO Masayoshi Matsumoto

Born in 1944 in Hyogo Prefecture, Masayoshi Matsumoto joined Sumitomo Electric in 1967. After serving as General Manager of Chubu District Office, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director, he assumed office of President and CEO in June 2004.

His leisure activities include jogging, reading and art appreciation. Also a seasoned athlete, he played baseball in junior high school and practiced judo in senior high school. In university, he threw the javelin competitively and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions.

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