Japanese home appliance companies like Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, and Fujitsu General are taking steps to improve their supply systems for residential air conditioners following the challenges faced during the summer of 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic led to production stoppages and semiconductor shortages, impacting the sale of air conditioners. To avoid missed profit opportunities and meet the high demand for air conditioners in 2023, these companies are enhancing their production capabilities and supply chains.
Hitachi Johnson Controls Air Conditioning has established a new production line for indoor air conditioning units in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. By increasing production capacity and adding around 200 workers, the company aims to meet the summer demand for air conditioners. Previously, most of their air conditioners were manufactured in China, but the temporary shutdown of the Shanghai factory in 2022 disrupted production and semiconductor procurement. Learning from this experience, Hitachi decided to shift production to Japan, increasing the proportion of air conditioners manufactured in Japan by 20 percentage points.
Mitsubishi Electric’s Shizuoka factory is operating at full capacity to produce lightweight outdoor units for high-demand models. The company incorporated feedback from construction workers and adopted a design that is easier to install. Fujitsu General, on the other hand, is intensifying production at its Shanghai factory targeting the Japanese market. The company implemented measures to overcome pandemic-related restrictions, such as using alternative components.
Japanese companies are collaborating closely in component procurement and production to improve the supply system. They are also implementing long-term measures to ensure a stable supply chain, such as adjusting product designs to reduce the number of components and localizing component procurement in various factories worldwide.
To address rising electricity prices and changing consumer preferences, companies are introducing energy-saving and eco-friendly air conditioner models with higher efficiency. Second-hand air conditioners have also become popular, leading to increased sales in this market segment.
Overall, Japanese home appliance companies are focused on building resilient supply chains and balancing stable supply with profitability. They have learned from the challenges of the past and are taking proactive measures to meet the demand for air conditioners and offer innovative, energy-efficient products to consumers.
Source: Nikkei, June 14, 2023