TOKYO -- TDK will build large factories in its home country of Japan for the first time in eight years, taking advantage of the improved profitability of domestic production brought on by a weaker yen.
The company plans to spend 25 billion yen ($208 million) on the facilities, which are expected to start churning out electronic components for smartphones and automobiles in late 2016.
The factories will be built on the grounds of TDK's Honjo and Inakura plants in Akita Prefecture. The new Honjo facility, to have roughly 50,000 sq. meters of floor space, will output such products as radio frequency components for smartphones. The new Inakura facility will have around 15,000 sq. meters of floor space and make ferrite magnetic materials and other products.
Both new factories will boast next-generation production equipment with built-in sensors allowing for online monitoring and remote operation. By collecting and analyzing operational data, TDK will determine optimal operating conditions and thus boost productivity. The company plans to gradually introduce this technology in overseas plants as well.
Between 2009 and 2011, TDK consolidated and closed many electronic component factories in Akita Prefecture in response to falling prices. This new expansion is the result of such factors as the weak yen and productivity improvements, which the company considers to have bolstered the cost-competitiveness of domestic manufacturing.
"We want to move some of our Chinese manufacturing of products for export overseas back to Japan," says President Takehiro Kamigama. Chinese facilities now account for nearly 50% of TDK's capacity.