Shocked by the speed in the development cycle
Being a mechanic at heart, Iwata loved tinkering with machines and motorcycles as a student and would often go touring on his motorbike. He first heard of Daikin Industries in university and knew it well from the good things that the upper-level students had said about it. Daikin established TIC in the 2015 which coincided with the time of his job search.
In speaking of his interest in joining the company, Iwata said, "Daikin Industries was on the verge of starting something new at TIC, and I had always been interested in environmental solutions. Seeing that Daikin Industries was actively developing technologies to solve environmental problems, I thought, ‘This sounds interesting to me.’”
In 2017, he achieved his coveted wish of being assigned to TIC where for the past five years he has been involved in research and development, focusing exclusively on compressors. What first surprised him after starting work at TIC was the speed in development. As is typical of research and development, clear work deadlines* are almost nonexistent. However, the pace of the prototyping cycle, even for the creation of a single prototype, struck him as extremely fast.
*: Deadlines depend on the R&D aim
Naturally, both relatively new and senior employees are expected to speak up and actively participate in discussions to generate good ideas. When discussions become heated and show no signs of progress, a top-level veteran employee will often join the discussion and offer advice.
"I think one of greatest attributes of TIC is the absence of any horizonal or vertical barriers (between departments). All employees work together to implement the various phases of the development cycle. Even from an engineer's point of view, I like the fact that we can discuss things in a flat manner," he says in describing TIC and its appeal.
Opportunities for young people to gain experience by taking on challenging projects
Prior to joining Daikin, Iwata had never used a CAD program, but senior colleagues taught him the basics, and he took charge of one area of parts design. He soon progressed to doing increasingly more difficult things unassisted and after three years was entrusted with designing important parts, including a rotary shaft and bearings for a compressor. Gradually, he has been given more responsibility for managing the team and was selected to be in charge of the overall structural design of prototypes used for model changes.
Even for the core elemental components of air conditioners, it is not unusual for young employees like Iwata, who has only worked in the company for five years, to have an opportunity to challenge an important assignment, and this is a part of the TIC culture.
“What’s unique about TIC is that young engineers increasingly become entrusted with even more work. In addition to their own main work, they are assigned other jobs to hone their skills. I appreciate that my supervisor gives me good opportunities to grow."
Daily grind in development of a next-generation compressor
To date, Daikin Industries has developed four main types of compressors: swing, scroll, screw, and centrifugal. These are classified for different applications by cost and capacity. The compressor that Iwata's team is currently developing is a completely new concept for Daikin’s next-generation centrifugal compressor. For this reason, the team has spent several years up to this point on development.
In the design stage, the company makes full use of simulation and analysis technology. This allows the company to determine its development policy for compression efficiency, damping performance, and other factors, and then to actually manufacture and evaluate prototypes accordingly. If performance fails to meet the target, work is reevaluated, reworked and perfected. This process is constantly being repeated.
"In the case of compressors, it is necessary to conduct a thorough verification using actual equipment, not just preliminary analysis. That is why it is important to make prototypes, and that is what makes it interesting.”
Iwata observes, “Compressors are the sum of many elemental technologies such as motors and inverters. We report any problems that we encounter to the various departments and investigate the causes as early as the day of the problem. Since there is a limit to what we can do on our own, it is important to involve other groups in the development process.”
Because TIC has assembled all the product development and engineering groups together in one building, it is easy for teams to cooperate with each other. One member can easily talk with another to ask for advice. Not only can people ask for help during development, but they can also make requests for the next prototype design by telling others, "This is the type of efficiency we’re looking for.” TIC's great strength lies in its ability to develop products based on overall optimization, whereas other companies develop products based on individual optimization for each element.
Future dream of designing a compressor for a super-efficient innovative air conditioner
Looking back, he says, “The compressor that we are currently overseeing is comparable to a full model change for an automobile. We started from a point where we didn't even know if what we had designed would really work. I was very happy when the first prototype worked. The hurdle may seem low, but when I was able to confirm that the compressor that I had been involved with from the beginning was operating properly and compressing refrigerant, I felt a sense of accomplishment.”
Iwata, who has been interested in environmental issues since he was a student, says of his aspirations, "Whether or not I can really achieve it, I would like to create an innovative compressor with super efficiency. Air conditioners consume a large amount of electricity, and the compressor accounts for most of the power consumption. If the compressor becomes eco-friendly, it could drastically reduce the amount of electricity used throughout the world and contribute to improving the global environment by reducing the operation rate of thermal and nuclear power generation. This may still be a long way off, though," he says.
“The beauty of Daikin Industries is that if you have a passion for engineering and speak up by saying, ‘Let me do this design and development,’ you will likely be entrusted with the task. For those engineers who are seeking employment, thinking about changing jobs, or wanting to create products for the world, Daikin Industries is a company where you can reflect your own will and realize what you want to do. If you have a challenging spirit and want to test your abilities to the fullest, I highly recommend coming to work at TIC."
Technology and Innovation Center
Joined the company in April 2017. Born in Aichi, Japan.
He is a member of the development team for a new type of compressor. He is working hard every day to create a new type of compressor with ultra-high efficiency that does not yet exist in the world.