After joining Murata Manufacturing in 1983, Sonoda belonged to the Tokyo Branch. He was transferred to Murata Electronics Singapore (Pte.) Ltd. in 1987 and to Murata Electronics North America, Inc. in 1998 for sales and planning operations. He was also dispatched to Murata Company Limited in Hong Kong (2004), Murata (China) Investment Co., Ltd. in Shanghai (2007), and Murata Electronics North America Inc. (2009) before being appointed Vice President and Deputy Director of the Device Business Unit in 2011. He has been serving the Business Unit as Director since 2012, and has also been Senior Vice President since 2013. Sonoda loves running, cycling, and reading books.
Timing devices are used in all equipment incorporating electronic circuits and ensure the correct operation of the equipment.
Murata previously leveraged its ceramic technology to accommodate the demand for these devices. Now we have started developing quartz crystals to meet the customer need for even higher accuracy. Making a specialized producer a subsidiary and exploiting the technology it developed for ceramics, Murata has launched innovative quartz crystals that offer compact sizes, low costs, and high accuracy.
Tapping into the downsizing trend, Murata quartz crystals have been steadily increasing their presence in various applications such as vehicle electronics, wireless communication, and wearables.
“The HCR caused a stir in the area of crystal devices.”
“The size reduction we offered previously has now turned into reality, rapidly accelerating demand.”
“Now we are in the age of more compact timing devices.”
By Making Tokyo Denpa a Subsidiary, Murata Launched an Innovative Quartz Crystal
Murata has maintained a good relationship with Tokyo Denpa (TEW), a successful manufacturer of crystal devices. The two companies entered into a capital and business alliance agreement in 2009, followed by a comprehensive cooperation agreement in 2011. Murata and TEW have worked together in sales as well as in the commercialization of the HCR, a quartz crystal featuring high accuracy and low cost. In August 2013, Murata further decided to acquire 100% ownership of TEW for greater synergy, optimal use of both partners' business resources, and faster decision-making. Since then, TEW has been committing itself to crystal device operations with a focus on timing devices by leveraging all the resources Murata has in development, production, sales, marketing and business management.
Unique Structure Enabled Reductions in Size and Cost, Making a Difference in the Market
The HCR product made a difference in the field of crystal devices by offering a much smaller and less expensive quartz crystal. When the HCR was first launched, the market for quartz crystals was dominated by 3225 (3.2 x 2.5 mm)-size products and was very slow in downsizing. That was where Murata launched a product that featured a unique Cap Chip structure and the functionality of the traditional 3225 size product in 2016 (2.0 x 1.6 mm) size and at lower cost. But we failed to promote downsizing as we expected, because we were only an inexperienced new comer in the market for crystal devices. In 2014, however, the market saw a clear trend toward downsizing, resulting in significant growth in demand for more compact resonators in the markets for smartphones and automotive electronics. An increasing use of more compact modules and assembled products is generating higher demand for 2016 size quartz crystals.
We achieved a further milestone in March 2013 by launching quartz crystals in 1612 (1.6 x 1.2 mm) size designed for Bluetooth®, WiFi®, and other wireless communication technologies used in wearables and mobile devices. In connection with modules, we anticipate a shift toward more compact quartz crystals in 1210 (1.2 x 1.0 mm) size. Accordingly we are accelerating the commercialization of products in this size.
Synergy through Ore Production A New Growth Area for Murata
TEW’s integration in the Murata group has created great synergy for Murata. We position crystal-based products including the HCR as a new growth technology. TEW also produces quartz crystal ore, which has been combined with a design process using Murata’s hallmark packaging technology as well as with an industrial engineering (IE) approach in order to create innovative timing devices. In addition, TEW distributes ore and blanks (component materials), adding a completely new field to Murata’s business portfolio. In partnership with our customers, we hope we can open up applications of crystal devices featuring even higher accuracy.