Special Feature: Product Development toward 2020Globally Pursuing Top-Quality Manufacturing Operations as “One akebono”Under the new midterm business plan, we are promoting two key concepts that will enable us to attain a technologicaladvantage in the global market: C&S+t (“Commonization and Standardization” plus enhanced product features (which wecall “topping”)) and “global platform” (GPF). Here, twelve young technicians discuss product development toward 2020.R&D Management? New Endeavors through Technical ProgramManagement (TPM)TPM is a new organizational body established by Akebono’sR&D Division in 2013. TPM facilitates communicationbetween customers and the R&D Division, thereby contributingto C&S+t.Daichi NakadaJoined Akebono in 2008R&D Division, TPM“I’d like to improve communication and eliminatetime wasted in R&D.”As a member of TPM, I’m responsible for R&D managementand improving operations. People in charge of developmentand design have always directly communicated with customers;the goal of TPM is to integrate this process and moreeffectively utilize internal development resources to eliminatetime wasted in R&D.Currently, there are about 30 members, including thoseassigned to specific manufacturers, managing two ApplicationDevelopment Departments. Our duties include coordinatingschedules and connecting customers with people in chargeof development and design as well as supporting in-housecollaboration.I think what is expected of TPM is the creation of a fluidand free work environment for the people in charge of developmentand design. To that end, we need to consolidate everdiversifyingcustomer needs and establish more finely tunedC&S+t. By doing so, we can streamline the decision-makingprocess for preliminary specifications, instead of relying onthe intuition and practical know-how of a handful experts,thereby making it possible to keep up with the quickeningpace of automotive development. Ideally, we want to create auniform manufacturing process for all of our products. Thatwould increase the transparency of operations and make iteasier to disseminate technology. I believe good internal communicationis important for promoting C&S+t and I’m committedto greeting customers and colleagues with a smile.Masaki UchidaJoined Akebono in 2005R&D Division, TPM“I’d like to create a system whereby production cantake place anywhere in the world with one design.”I’m responsible for communication between manufacturersand people in charge of development and design. Two pressingissues at the moment are understanding the characteristicsof customer needs and meeting deadlines.One recent trend I’ve noticed is the increasing stringencyof demands regarding noise.? In addition, among the growingpriorities are U.S. regulations on copper and improving fueleconomy by reducing brake drag.? We are currently engagedin establishing a GPF that ensures the uniformity of product