Guided by our unique belief in the material possibilities of rubber, we have taken on the challenge of developing industry-leading rubber technology and thus created “world firsts” on multiple fronts. Building on this track record, the Sumitomo Rubber Group promotes a wide range of research and development in fields related to Tire, Sports and Industrial and Other Products businesses, thereby securing the driving force that generates products with competitive advantages as well as new growth. In fiscal 2021, R&D spending on such activities and innovation totaled ¥25.4 billion, which accounts for 2.7% of consolidated sales revenue.
The Sumitomo Rubber Group has taken a pioneering approach in terms of the utilization of supercomputers in the development of new materials. In 2012, we began utilizing the “K” supercomputer and, in 2021, we start employing “Fugaku,” a successor of the “K,” to carry out material simulations.
|R&D Expenses (millions of yen)||24,257||25,720||25,780||26,198||24,215||25,447|
|Ratio of R&D Expenses to Sales Revenue (%)||3.2||3.8||2.9||2.9||3.1||2.7|
|Number of Japanese and Foreign Patents (Number of patents held)||8,761||9,183||9,199||9,156||10,063||9,983|
With the Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ R&D organization and facilities at the core of our efforts, we promote R&D activities in a wide range of fields related to the Tire, Sports, and Industrial and Other Products businesses in close cooperation with subsidiaries and affiliates around the world.
With regard to Tire Business’s tire technology R&D, the Tire Technical Center, located near the Kobe Head Office, serves as the core facility, collaborates with the Europe and USA Technical Centers, and is committed to developing environmentally friendly products on the themes of “raw materials,” “fuel efficiency,” and “resource saving,” guided by the underlying concept of “What tire technology can do for the global environment.”
In line with our particular focus on “developing tires boasting superior safety performance as well as capabilities that help reduce environmental burden,” we began incorporating simulations produced using the “K” supercomputer” from 2012 and then its successor “Fugaku” from 2021 into our research and efforts to take on the challenge of developing innovative rubber materials.
In the Sports Business, having established R&D sections at both the Sports Business HQ and Roger Cleveland Golf Company, Inc. in the United States, we are employing computer simulations and other technologies to develop, evaluate, and test new technologies and products.
In the Industrial and Other Products Business, we are actively developing new products aimed at accommodating consumer needs in such fields as vibration control, offering high-damping rubber parts, Rubber Parts for Medical Applications, and rubber parts for office equipment.
In fiscal 2021, our company was among those whose proposals were selected for HPCI (High Performance Computing Infrastructure) system Industrial Use Project research using ”Fugaku.”
Since we first unveiled our proprietary “ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN Tire Materials Development Technology” in 2015, the Sumitomo Rubber Group has used this groundbreaking technology to push ahead with the development of new rubber materials with the aim of achieving simultaneous improvements in three key tire performance traits: fuel efficiency, wet grip, and wear resistance. With the powerful “Fugaku” supercomputer now at our disposal, we will bring further advances in ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN in order to better respond to the needs of CASE, MaaS and other new automotive innovations so that we can make an even greater contribution to the “Mobility Society of the Future.”
The Sumitomo Rubber Groups is engaged in the development of new technologies via participation in industry-academia collaboration involving universities boasting cutting-edge technologies.
|Contact||Major Themes of Recent Initiatives|
|Tohoku University||Rubber Failure Captured with X-Ray CT Scan at 1,000x Acceleration, Successful 4D Observation|
|Kansai University||Developing New Technology to Estimate Tire Wear Utilizing Tire Internal Power Generation Technology|
|Elucidating the Structure of Tomato Enzymes (Similar to Natural Rubber Synthases)|
The Group proactively carries out intellectual property activities that support its businesses.
Specifically, the Group undertakes intellectual property activities focusing on three pillars, namely: 1) “securing intellectual property rights” with regard to such industrial properties as patents, utility models, designs and trademarks; 2) “exercising such rights” to guard against the infringement of Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ intellectual property rights; and 3) “eliminating risk” by developing a structure to defend against attacks by third parties.
In step with the rapid expansion of its overseas operations, the scope of the Group’s intellectual property activities is growing worldwide, encompassing not only Japan but also the United States, Europe, and such Asian countries as China, as well as Russia and countries in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Efforts are now under way to nurture human resources and reinforce our structure to conduct intellectual property activities commensurate with such globalization.
In particular, the Group is providing training sessions for not only Intellectual Property Department members but also employees at every operational base with the aim of raising awareness of intellectual property and upgrading the competencies of the entire workforce.
Such action is facilitating the development of a structure that ensures intellectual property activities are carried out smoothly and seamlessly on a Group-wide basis.
In particular, we are focusing on acquiring more effective rights by assigning IP representatives to Europe. Focusing on the above-mentioned three pillars, the Group will promote the more efficient implementation of intellectual property activities at a global level.