Business communication tools on the Web strengthen collaboration between SMEs
Apex Co., Ltd. (Apex), a J-GoodTech registered company, primarily develops, produces, and sells retrofitted automotive parts. They also develop customized parts for specific car models for sports driving.
Apex was able to use J-GoodTech’s Information Board to successfully find subcontractors that could provide high-mix low-volume customized part production. We asked their New Business Department Manager Junichi Yamazaki about how they found a successful match.
Apex Co., Ltd.
New Business Department Manager Junichi Yamazaki
Even though it is necessary to increase efficiency through outsourcing and the like, it is difficult to find partner companies due to high-mix low-volume orders
What kinds of problems were you facing before using J-GoodTech?
Our company’s primary business is in retrofitting automotive parts and assembly, using three-dimensional measuring and reverse engineering services to provide parts for converted electric vehicles (EVs). The retrofit part industry is fairly niche and has a wide variety of product types, so it’s a market that demands increased efficiency by outsourcing, for example. It’s a strategic move to try and network with a partner company that can flexibly satisfy our needs depending on the ordered goods. But the big issue is that the customized parts required for custom cars mainly require high-mix low-volume production. We can’t make mass orders, which makes it difficult to find a subcontractor. We were struggling to find a company that could work with us on a daily basis.
Please tell us about what led you to begin using J-GoodTech.
Our company had been participating in business meetings hosted by the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation’s Kanto branch. We heard that J-GoodTech had released a new Information Board that SMEs could use to broadcast their needs, so we decided to use it to try and find a subcontractor.
What was it like to actually use J-GoodTech?
At first, we were hoping for companies in the Kanto region. But when we posted our specifications, like our expected processing conditions, lots, and delivery dates, companies outside the Kanto region applied. We were able to begin negotiations with seven companies. In the end, the company we reached a deal with was not in the Kanto region. We were able to gain the cooperation of a company in a region where we previously didn’t have any partners. The Information Board transmits information to registered companies across the country, so we were able to get in contact with companies that we had not known about before. It isn’t easy for SMEs to search for partner companies, and on top of that there are only a small number of companies that can take on small production orders. Using the Information Board was an effective way to find a wide range of information.
New Business Department Manager Junichi Yamazaki
There’s a coordinator follow-up system, and it’s also effective as an information transmission tool for SMEs
Please tell us about J-GoodTech’s merits and how it differs from other services.
We had been using other services provided by private companies. It has been very helpful to have an expert coordinator from J-GoodTech who advises us on how to communicate our message and works with us on expanding markets. As a registered business, it is reassuring to have a structure where an expert follows up with us.
In addition, as an SME, we feel that our business is built upon cooperation between similarly sized companies. Of course, we do business with major companies, but it is crucial for SMEs to collaborate through cooperative, outsourced production. The Information Board makes this possible, and it is a reliable tool that these smaller companies can use to communicate information.
J-GoodTech has an increasing number of members joining not only from Japan, but also from overseas. We are planning to widely announce our products in the hope that we can find partners.
Use business communication functions on the Web for wide-ranging promotion, including overseas
Lastly, could you make a brief statement about how you’ll use J-GoodTech in the future?
J-GoodTech’s website has been gradually improved so that it’s even more user-friendly now. We expect that it will become even easier to obtain business information in the future. We have a new business underway, involving production technology that can directly conduct 3D processing from measurement data. We are looking for a platform where we can showcase this business, make proposals, and advertise. We want to freely communicate information through the new system. We hope to utilize the business communication functionality that allows us to exchange information on the website with many different companies, including overseas enterprises. We hope to make good use of J-GoodTech to promote ourselves.
Metalwork processed using 3D processing technology
Other Remarks (Editor’s Notes)
Apex not only produces retrofit parts for existing cars, but they are also actively pursuing new business. This includes starting a variety of product processing services that make use of 3D processing technology owned and developed by Apex. It has long been said that Japanese SMEs have high technological capabilities. Among these SMEs, there are many companies that are using their technology to pursue new types of business.
At the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, we plan to keep our eyes on SMEs like these that offer outstanding technological capabilities and services. We will pursue activities that will give them more exposure to other companies.