The process leading up
to product development

Nihon Plast’s development staff tackles their work every day with the mission of protecting the safety and comfort of automobiles. Here, we asked three development staff members to share their thoughts on current and future development.

What are your current professional responsibilities?

Yoneyama:All three of us are involved in the design and development of steering wheels and airbags.

Akaike: Each of us is in charge of a different type of vehicle. I mainly work on sedans and general-purpose vehicles.

Ide:Even for the same steering wheel component, the required shape and function differ depending on the type of car, so each department designs and develops accordingly.

Yoneyama:All departments share the philosophy that we are doing work that has great significance in protecting human lives. We are aware that even a 0.0-millimeter gap, which we do not pay attention to in our daily lives, can be a major obstacle to ensuring safety, and we are committed to this challenge.

What are the difficulties and attractions of this job?

Akaike:We use CAD to design, and when the design takes shape, it must be approved by testing to ensure that it conforms to the stipulated regulations. In the unlikely event that a design does not pass tests due to a calculation error, we examine the design from a variety of angles to determine the cause. When this does not go well is when things become difficult.

Ide:At such times, we sometimes cross departmental boundaries and work together to solve problems through discussion. Design is certainly a difficult task, but I find it rewarding to share what I have gained through my many years of experience and work together to solve problems.

Yoneyama:I think it is important to have one’s own ideas in order to face issues while exchanging ideas with colleagues. Now that I have subordinates, I try to listen to their ideas and respect them.

Ide:This company has a corporate culture that values the opinions and wishes of even young employees. I expressed my own wishes and the company recognized them, allowing me to experience working overseas. You have to have your own ideas and communicate them. I think this is the secret to making your job rewarding.

What do you see as the future of the automotive society and Nihon Plast?

Akaike:The value of the automobile is changing from being a means of transportation to “a safe and comfortable space to spend time in while moving around.” In order to keep up with this major change, I feel that we need to trust our imagination and work with a flexible mind.

Ide:As the trend toward autonomous driving accelerates, I think the steering wheels and airbags we are working on will continue to evolve. Will the steering wheel disappear from the car in the near future? What about the airbags that are installed there?” It’s hard to imagine that. At the very least, I am certain that our work will change drastically.

Yoneyama:Cars will become more exciting mobile space. This will expand the scope of business that we have to deal with, but I believe that we have to grow as a company so that we do not disappoint end-users.