1. Nidec has a thriving backstory and an ever-expanding global presence in major sectors. What new sectors are in your radar?
Nidec ASI, which leads Nidec’s Industrial Solutions platform, is targeting applications in renewable energy and smart micro-grid technologies. We are currently one of the market leaders in battery energy storage solutions and we are now looking at Electric Vehicle infrastructure as well as innovations in plant automation and control for industry 4.0. Nidec group is very active in robotics so we hope to be able to incorporate some of these technologies into future projects.
2. Several sectors such as Pulp & Paper, Mining and Plastics are contributing heavily to environmental degradation. How does Nidec deal with this, in regards with Automation technologies available, since you have a sizeable foothold in these sectors?
Nidec actively promotes electric drive solutions and actively works with customers on revamping older plants to improve energy efficiency. Recently, we added turn-key co-generation solutions to our basket of products. These can be combined with renewable energy sources like PV and wind to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Our focus is on the optimal use of energy, which is not surprising since our core products are electric motors and inverters.
3. What is Nidec’s one breakthrough innovation in Automation that you think revolutionized the Industry?
Certainly we can’t talk about Automation without talking about our ARTICS platform. The suite of tools we have developed to write algorithms for real time control allows us to interface with all existing platforms on the market making it the perfect solution for today’s world where customers are trying to integrate diverse systems to improve operations or remotely control various plants with different technologies. Most of our competitors tried to develop vertically integrated solutions thinking this would strengthen the sale of their products. But, in today’s world of retrofitting and revamping, which has also been characterized by a high level of mergers and acquisitions, they are struggling to identify control solutions that can interface with their competitors products.
4. Did Nidec encounter challenges in Renewables - especially Solar - given that it isn’t as widely used?
The renewables sector is always challenging because it is still in continuous evolution and the last word has not been said on certain technologies. We have done quite well by focusing on innovation. For example, our 1500V inverter for large utility scale solar farms is best in class for efficiency and cooling. And, we currently have 500 MWh of battery energy storage solutions installed across the globe. We don’t have a large marketing spend compared to our competitors but this has helped us maintain our competitive edge in terms of cost, although it took the Market studies a few years to put us on their radar…today, I think most people in the industry know we are a serious player with solid products and solutions.
5. How do you think the costs related to establishing solar plants can be brought down by a landfall to make it more affordable? Is Nidec contributing to that end?
Utility Scale PV prices are already so low that we wonder what will happen next. We have a permanent R&D task force that works on cost reduction for our PV and BESS solutions with members from Engineering, Sourcing and Manufacturing. Our goal is to reduce cost through innovations that will add value to the customer. We are very pleased with the results and are thinking about extending this approach to other market segments.
6. Will Nidec ever venture into Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, as these are on the bleeding edge of Automation technology today?
Nidec group is already active in robotics and the Internet of Things as well as wireless technology and driverless electric vehicles. Nidec strongly promotes synergies between its businesses so we have already had some internal meetings with other Nidec businesses to share know-how and best practices and I think we will see more of this as we move forward. It is a very exciting time for Nidec, with the recent acquisition of Emerson’s motor and drive business (which includes the brands Leroy Somer, Control Techniques & Kato Engineering). Nidec’s industrial footprint has grown significantly and the opportunities to share best practices and product solutions will also lead to the development of a wider, more innovative range of products and solutions for industrial customers.