TOTO
TOTO
  • 6. Advanced Ceramics that Support the Future ─ New Business Domains Thriving with Technology Tempered in Plumbing Equipment
  • Prologue Advanced Ceramics Indispensable to Modern Society
  • Ceramics consist of all ceramics products, including pottery and glass. Advanced ceramics refers to ceramics that have superior quality and functionality. Advanced ceramics are also one of three major industrial materials today equal to organic materials from iron and other metal materials as well as plastics. Creating smarter, more information oriented lifestyles equipped with mobile phones and wearable devices  is ever growing the demand for advanced ceramics. TOTO began seriously investigating and researching fine ceramics in 1976. The economic turmoil caused by the first oil shock was still ongoing in Japan and the times compelled many companies to formulate new business strategies. Hayato Kurokawa, the president of TOTO at the time, stressed the importance of creating new products and new fields, which brought the company into new industries outside of housing and facility equipment
  • Conceptual framework of advanced ceramics
  • 6 Advanced Ceramics that Support the Future ─ New Business Domains Thriving with Technology Tempered in Plumbing Equipment
  • Advanced ceramics are important industrial materials that support an advanced information‐oriented society.In anticipation of further expansion in communication networks such as IoT, TOTO Advanced Ceramics that are provided as a high-end material to the world, support the future of society with a foundation in technology tempered in plumbing equipment
  • Chapter 1  Challenge of Entering Businesses Outside of Plumbing Equipment
  • Entering New Fields with Technology Cultivated in Plumbing Equipment
  • A research wing with a total area of 1,250 m2 was built inside the Chigasaki Plant (Kanagawa Prefecture) in 1978 to advanced research in new fields such as advanced ceramics as well as inorganic materials and other organic materials. We began test-marketing structures such as precision surface plates and measurement instruments as “TOTO Precision Ceramics” in 1982 and earned high technical praise. Large-scale slip-cast molding technology, firing techniques, and polishing machine technology have all been cultivated independently by TOTO in ceramic sanitary ware and fittings. The advanced technology in large-scale molding members has been passed down to today to generate even greater innovation.
  • Large-Sized Ceramics Beams (component used in manufacturing devices such as large-size liquid crystal screens and semiconductors) Ceramics Air slides (highly advanced measuring component that supports positioning in devices such as semiconductors and liquid crystal steppers and scanners)
  • Initiatives toward TOTO Fine Ceramics started with advancements in research in new fields that started in the 1970s.Technology cultivated in plumbing equipment is utilized even in new domains
  • Chapter 2  Fine Ceramics and TOTO Plumbing Equipment Products
  • Proven Track Record even in Our Own Products with Advanced Ceramic Technology
  • TOTO has forged a proven track record in expanding to these new domains in parallel with its core business, but the product was geared toward plumbing equipment products from TOTO such as ceramic valves for faucets that started mass production in 1981. Alumina ceramic disks used in single lever combination faucets (component incorporating a ceramic valve) solved issues in corrosion and abrasion that confronted metal materials while finding practical applications to realize smooth movement through high slidability. Development in our own products continued thereafter to supply a ceramic heater used for the TOTO home sauna in 1983 and a cylindrical heater for washlets in 1987.
  • Cylindrical heater for washlets. Alumina ceramic disks for single lever combination faucets
  • Ceramics solved issues in corrosion and abrasion that confronted metal materials while finding practical applications as components to get smooth movement through high slidability
  • Chapter 3  Responsive Grip with Advanced Ceramics
  • Challenge of Practical Applications as Electrostatic Chucks
  • TOTO engaged in devices from highly rigid and highly precise measurement tools as well as air slides and components of semiconductor manufacturing devices such as electrostatic chucks to optical communication components such as optical ferrules and receptacles as well as magnet heads used to read data on electronic storage mediums. Today, electrostatic chucks that began development in 1982 are a major product that uses TOTO Fine Ceramics. After the development of the electrostatic chucks for electron beam machines, we worked toward utilization in Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) etching devices. However, the work almost came to a standstill when cracking and a poor yield by weight could not be resolved. We were able to succeed in the practical application even in the first electrostatic chucks for etching devices through cooperation in development from other companies. TOTO pioneered efforts to open avenues to practical applications and these electrostatic chucks can be seen as one of the predominate products of TOTO Advanced Ceramics. We are ceaseless in our research and development for the next generation today with our close links to major semiconductor device manufacturers both inside and outside of Japan.
  • * Electrostatic chucks(component used in devices to manufacture semiconductors that are built into mobile phones, computers, automobiles and other devices)
  • The electrostatic chucks that we pioneered are seen as one of the predominate products of TOTO Advanced Ceramics
  • Chapter 4  Selection and Focus in the 1990s
  • Specializing in a Field Unique to TOTO
  • The selection and focus advanced for each company as the overall economic performance in Japan became stagnant in the 1990s. TOTO Fine Ceramics are advancing along three facets; (1) Further emphasis on air slides and electrostatic chucks, (2) enhancement of production for optical ferrules allowing differentiation in high-precision products, and (3) enhancement of large casting products and integrated alumina arc tubes that embody the traditional strengths of TOTO. Therefore, we have decided to find and specialize in fields able to drive the existing value of TOTO. We have implemented large investments in conjunction with refining the domains we are engaged. We built our Nakatsu No.2 Plant in Nakatsu, Oita in 1992 for the purpose of consolidating manufacturing sites for ceramic products. At the same time, we established TOTO Optronics as a manufacturing plant for optical ferrules in Naraha, Fukushima to strengthen and consolidate our manufacturing system in 1994.
  • Nakatsu No.2 Plant (1992). Cornerstone Ceremony for the Nakatsu No.2 Plant
  • Yoshine Koga, the 11th president of TOTO, said, “In anticipation of ongoing business growth with this ever increasing demand, we will build a manufacturing site for new ceramics to give the best in the world from right here in Tajirisaki, Nakatsu.” These words are passed down in the company even today.
  • Chapter 5  IT Bubble and the Lehman Shock
  • Overcoming Economic Hardships
  • As personal computers become more prevalent in the 1990s, use of the Internet exploded in what would become known as the IT bubble. TOTO’s sales of optical ferrules and receptacles, which are indispensable to communications infrastructure, even saw rapid growth between 1999 and 2000. TOTO decided to invest in large-scale equipment at some of its plants in response to this heightened demand, but the rapid downturn in that same demand struck fiercely. We were forced to make the agonizing decision to reduce and halt operations at our new plants right before they began. While giving into the sacrifice of losing the use of this large-scale investment, we strove to expand our electrostatic chucks and other businesses toward our recovery. Some of our products were only made by a few companies throughout the world and our presence in the field of ceramics grew.
  • Optical ferrule (component to connect optical fibers) Tomioka Plant were operations stopped
  • Chapter 6  East Japan Earthquake Crisis
  • Ongoing Struggles and Success Found in the Fight
  • March 11, 2011 was met with unprecedented disaster when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. Our plants that produced optical ferrules, receptacles, and bonding capillaries in Naraha and Tomioka in Fukushima Prefecture become restricted areas. TOTO products are praised for their high quality and some of these products held a large share of the market. The loss of our production line affected customers worldwide. Our employees who worked for plants in the restricted zones were afflicted by the disaster, but they poured their efforts into bringing production back on line. We were able to recover our operations at an astounding speed by unifying everyone involved from requests to OEM production of other companies to the launch of production lines at sites of other TOTO Group companies. Our fine ceramics business was rocked by unexpected ordeals repeatedly, but we were able to persevere with bold decision making, cooperation of Group companies, and strong resolve.
  • Receptacles (key part in highly precise positioning of optical semiconductors and optical fibers) Bonding capillaries (tool to connect IC chips and lead frames with metal wiring)
  • Employees at plants inside of restricted zones put their strength in recovering the production line regardless of the fact that they themselves were afflicted by the disaster.
  • Chapter 7  Birth of No Bake Ceramics Defying Convention
  • Amazing Potential of the AD Process
  • State-of-the-art IT and communications technologies are a worldwide phenomena. The overseas sales ratio of the fine ceramics business grew from 48% in fiscal 2010 to 76% by fiscal 2015, The reason for this sudden increase in the overseas sales ratio of TOTO advanced ceramics after 2013 was the development of new products. These products defied convention with an Aerosol Deposition (AD) method that would form a ceramic skin without sintering the ceramic. This AD process received high praise both in and outside of Japan, winning many awards, including the 6th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award (Prime Minister’s Award). The generation of film through the AD process has already been verified as feasible in various other ceramic materials as well. The technology undeniably has amazing potential for the future.
  • Generating ceramic film through the AD process
  • The AD process holds the potential that is key to further growth in the TOTO Fine Ceramics Business.
  • Chapter 8  Foundation of Advanced Ceramics
  • Contribution to Creating the Future Society with Unique Technology
  • After 40 years since the start of our research, TOTO Fine Ceramics have forged a unique business to provide products throughout the world today as the foundation for technology that creates ceramic sanitary ware and tableware. The mobile communications networks, including mobile phones that rapidly grew in the second half of the 20th century, demonstrates the greater expansion as we entered this century with the evolution for faster speeds and capacity enlargement. We are working to further inflate the potential of the fine ceramics that support the foundation of these technologies. As needs exist for mass production of semiconductors and liquid crystals for the next generation, TOTO Advanced Ceramics aims to contribute to creating a future society by supporting this production with unique technology.
  • Fine ceramics at the forefront of the generation
  • Aim to contribute to creating a future society by firmly propping up the further evolution of technology from smarter lifestyles to IoT