Shigenobu Nagamori, Nidec’s founder, has a good track record of predicting business trends, notes a Bloomberg article written by Anjani Trivedi, a columnist covering industrial companies in Asia.
Nidec‘s capital-expenditure cycles have become something of a leading indicator for Japan’s manufacturing sector. So when Nidec starts ramping up investment in robots, an important trend could be in the offing.
“The decline of the global work age population is creating a huge demand [for robotics], coming not only from manufacturing industries, but also from food, logistics and service industries,” the company’s CFO, Akira Sato, said in an earnings call in July.
Nidec is buying five German companies, including MS-Graessner GmbH, and will spend 50 billion yen ($450 million) this year shopping for firms that make things like robot parts, the Nikkei reported this week. The report also noted that Nidec will spend as much as 20 billion yen on each of the acquisitions in the year to March 2019.
The transaction is taking place through Nidec-Shimpo GmbH, the German affiliate of subsidiary Nidec-Shimpo.
Nidec-Shimpo’s main line of gearboxes are precision planetary reducers with a particular strength in the linear type reducers whose input and output shafts are aligned. These are currently sold in Asia, mainly in Japan and China and the Americas.
Graessner exhibits strong capability in right-angle precision gearboxes, of which the input and output shafts are arranged at an angle of 90 degrees, particularly in hypoid reducers. Graessner’s current main market is Europe, mainly Germany.
As a result of the transaction, Nidec-Shimpo can now offer a more comprehensive precision gearbox range, both linear and angular types, and expand its sales in Europe, a large market for planetary gearboxes. In addition, Nidec-Shimpo plans to manufacture its newly developed strain wave gearboxes for robotic applications in Graessner’s German factory.
Likewise, Graessner can sell its products through Nidec-Shimpo’s sales and after-sales service network in Asia and the Americas.
Nidec is also converting a factory in the Philippines — once used to make spindle motors for hard-disk drives — to one that will make compact reducers, key parts that account for as much as 40% of the cost of advanced robots. It is also building a factory in Pinghu, China, for the traction motors needed in electric cars, a market that could grow to around $19 billion by 2030, according to Goldman Sachs.