Vol.4 Special Interview

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Global strategy

Strengthening the Asian strategy to build a base for the future

The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) is responsible for the global promotion and development of the CC-Link family of open automation networks. Through its successful "Gateway to Asia" (G2A) programme, it is helping companies worldwide increase their business in Asia via the adoption of CC-Link technology in their products.

Since November 2000, when the CLPA was founded, the number of partner companies supporting the CLPA has been consistently increasing. The CLPA had 134 partner companies at its foundation, but now the number has increased to 2,097 as of the end of March 2013. About 70% of the partner companies are outside Japan (see the figure). As of the same time, the number of CC-Link- or CC-Link IE-compatible models is 1,356, and more than 12 million devices have been shipped.
To support partner companies and users, the CLPA has acted globally, with offices in South Korea, Taiwan, United States, Germany, UK, China, Singapore, and India. Recently, a new branch was opened in Istanbul, Turkey in March 2014. The CLPA is also going to open more branches in the ASEAN area, which has been growing significantly as a global production base. "On grounds of the low labour costs, incentive policies by local governments, and increased consumption resulting from economic growth, more and more companies are opening their production bases in the ASEAN region. However, many such bases are not automated yet. ASEAN is still at the dawn of the automation era, and so we are encouraging the early adoption of CC-Link and CC-Link IE there," said Ms. Naomi Nakamura, Global Director of the CLPA.

Figure. Continuing adoption of CC-Link & CC-Link IE
Encouraging the adoption of CC-Link IE

The CLPA is now focusing on the promotion of the industrial Ethernet-based network "CC-Link IE". "The market for Ethernet-based industrial open networks is rapidly growing. Independent research has indicated growth rates as high as 15%. Hence it is important for us to strengthen our position in this market to provide increased market opportunities for our partners", stated Ms. Nakamura.
One of the key strengths of CC-Link IE is its advanced specification. For example, CC-Link IE has a data transmission speed of 1Gbps, faster than any other Ethernet-based industrial network. "Some have said that it was not necessary for industrial Ethernet to offer such high performance. However, CC-Link IE was developed in response to demand from industries such as flat panel displays and automotive that required such performance. Since then, more and more companies have recognized how CC-Link IE's superior performance can impact their operations for the future. Moreover, new trends such as "Industry 4.0" are requiring the bandwidth offered by technologies such as CC-Link IE," commented Ms. Nakamura.
"One of the reasons for this trend is intensified global competition. This has lead companies to handle a vast amount of data related to production and quality, with a consequent need to improve the speed and capacity of the equipment in their factories and networks. CC-Link IE already fulfills these requirements. Hence we can say that the era of CC-Link IE has just started," she continued.
Another key strength of the CC-Link networks is their heritage in the Japanese manufacturing base. Japan has long been regarded as a world leader in manufacturing, and CC-Link IE’s underlying technologies borrow heavily from the experience and know-how of this heritage. Hence the CLPA intends to continue aggressively promoting the benefits of this background for advanced manufacturing applications in the global market via its worldwide network of branches," she concluded.

Expanding the strategy for Asia

A further key point is the new "Gateway to Asia" or "G2A" programme. This programme assists companies worldwide to develop their business in Asia when they incorporate CC-Link technology in their products. The programme began in 2011 as "Gateway to China", or "G2C". "We began with China because of the vast manufacturing base in this nation and the corresponding automation opportunities. In the past, many Chinese companies were only engaged in simple assembly processes. Now, many companies have progressed to producing materials and components in addition to assembly. Furthermore, as the market expands, more companies need to improve their productivity and also the quality expectations of the market have increased. This has directly driven the need to automate, since manual methods have become inadequate. In turn, this has also increased the demand for automation networks, " stated Ms. Nakamura.
The CLPA has already achieved concrete results in China. "For example, more device manufacturers in Europe and America are now employing CC-Link- or CC-Link IE to enter the Chinese market," continued Ms. Nakamura.
During the operation of the G2C campaign, it became clear that many global companies had interest in other Asian markets as well as China. Hence in 2013, the CLPA decided to extend the campaign to the whole of Asia, and hence renamed it "Gateway to Asia", or "G2A".
The G2A programme is intended to increase the momentum of CC-Link in Asia. As more companies enter the market there with CC-Link compatible products, the greater variety will increase the application possibilities and hence the market share.
"The CLPA will become a gateway and encourage companies handling CC-Link- or CC-Link IE-related business to enter the Asian market", said Ms. Nakamura. "Specifically, the CLPA plays a leading role in promotion activities and events, such as running a booth or holding seminars at exhibitions. For the companies that develop CC-Link- or CC-Link IE-compatible devices, the CLPA also provides a development support kit containing the dedicated LSI, and associated components, or may even bear the cost for CC-Link conformance tests."
"We actively collect information about the situation of the manufacturing industry and required technology and products in Asia. By sending this information as feedback to the partner companies, we support the expansion of the lineup of CC-Link- and CC-Link IE-compatible products and accelerate the adoption of CC-Link and CC-Link IE", she concluded.

Image of "Gateway to Asia"

Ms. Naomi NakamuraGlobal Director of CC-Link Partner Association

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