- Corporate profile
Chapter 3The Possibilities of the Newly Developed Accessory Belt
Winning out at the last minute, the sound test was judged a success.
At last, a test belt produced by narrowing down rubber compounds generated positive results in in-house vehicle tests. The reduction in sound was even discernible to the ear. Although our customer had hoped to test the belt right away on a customer vehicle that was under development, they were told that the vehicle was nearing mass production, so could not be tested on that model. As proposed by Mr. Tamura and Mr. Shige, a rental car was brought in and a sound test was run together with the person at the customer end in charge of testing engine vibration and noise. The team was taking a last chance; if the belt could not clear sound tests at that stage, it would not be in time for use on the new model.
The test was run on a vehicle with a continuously variable transmission, typically a difficult proposition. During testing, the belt had been confirmed as clearing the sound levels according to conditions set by the customer, but anything was possible in a live trial. Finally the sound test evaluation results were brought to the waiting pair: "OK." They were delighted with the words of the customer representative: "That belt looks like a winner." The two team members phoned the Company to report the results to their waiting colleagues. Mr. Hineno told the team members frankly, "I am both delighted and relieved."
Finally transitioning to mass production and sales, the team moved on to the development of a next-generation Low Friction Loss Belt.
Mr. Imai, a colleague of Mr. Ishiguro, was tasked with getting the production line up and running. Looking back, he recalls "The most difficult part was summarizing the huge volume of product specifications, materials used, results, manufacturing methods and costs, taking these to an assessment meeting comprising members of manufacturing and sales, and receiving the 'go sign' on production." With the assistance of his direct supervisor and Mr. Tamura, leader of the development team, the decision was reached to begin mass production. After that point, preparations for manufacturing proceeded at a fever pitch. Although some issues still remained to be resolved as the product went toward mass production, all the difficulty started to seem worthwhile, as new vehicle models containing the newly developed Low Friction Loss Belt began to appear on television, in magazines and on automakers' websites.
Three years after the start of development, the automaker that had been pressing forward on efforts to lower fuel consumption launched its mini car. Customers gave the vehicle high marks, including for the results of fuel-efficiency calculations. During the year, the vehicle won an award for its use of fuel-efficient technologies.
To date, competitors have not yet developed products equivalent to Mitsuboshi Belting's Low Friction Loss Belt, the first in the world to achieve both low fuel consumption and noise generation resistance. At the same time, Mitsuboshi Belting has continued with its successes in developing next-generation belting products that maintain noise generation resistance while contributing to even lower levels of fuel consumption. Furthermore, an increasing number of Japanese automakers are employing these products.
Thermographic Measurement of Torque Loss Conditions after the Start of TravelThis measurement shows the low amount of heat generated (little heat generated as a result of flexure) by low friction loss products.
We will continue to pursue technologies in the aim of achieving even lower levels of fuel consumption.
Through their perseverance, members of the development team succeeded in uncovering new possibilities for accessory belts using technologies that nobody had considered up to that point. The successful tests did more than just boost the confidence of development team members. It also pointed toward Mitsuboshi Belting's future as a belt maker contributing to society. We believe the spirit of colleagues consistently gathering to discuss technologies is due in large part to Mitsuboshi Belting's corporate culture, which emphasizes its own new technologies. We will continue to pursue solutions to increasingly strict fuel efficiency requirements. The challenges Mitsuboshi Belting faces in expanding the use of Low Friction Loss Belts in internal combustion automobiles throughout the world is not over yet.