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"The Use of Digital Technology and its Effect The Use of Digital Technology and its Effect on Product Development in the Automobile Parts Industry" (in Japanese)


  • Seunghwan Ku

    (Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo)

  • Takahiro Fujimoto

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)


The subject of this paper is an empirical study about the impact and introduced period of 3D-CAD(three dimensional computer-aided design) on the product development process in the automobile parts industry in Japan. In particular, this study examines how 3D-CAD impacts product design review and production review, communication between assembler and supplier, and product development lead times. Our data is from 153 companies and was collected through a questionnaire survey of first-tier part suppliers in the first half of 1999. Interview were also conducted four of the part supplier. The historical trend of automobile supplier has been to introduce 3D-CAD about 5 years slower than the assemblers. That is to say, after assemblers had introduced 3D-CAD to product development, suppliers introduced 3D-CAD for parts at which connect to the body parts in 1990s. These parts are complex in structure and in the interface between parts. From 1985-1990, 36.91% of the companies had introduced 3D-CAD in their product development. From 1991-1995, the figure was 58.37%, and from 1996-1999, the figure jumped to 85.91%. We measured the use, on-line, and compatibility of suppliers and assemblers in 3D-CAD systems, and their relationship with the frequency of communication, design review, production review, and lead times of product development. The following conclusions were drawn. First, the usage rate of 3D-CAD to product development is linked with the increase in connection and compatibility of supplier and assembler systems. Second, increased use of 3D-CAD was not accompanied by a decreased the frequency of communication. Third, the effect of the use of 3D-CAD in the product development process decreases the occurrence of design reviews and production reviews and lead times. However, this effect differs depending on the parts. Suppliers have some problems. For example, the use of different 3D-CAD system by the assemblers creates an entry barrier in the expansion of supplier fs customers. Also, suppliers suffer from a lack of institutional educational program for engineering in 3D-CAD.In addition, managers at suppliers have to avoid engineers from practicing unnecessary design activities. In conclusion, the use of 3D-CAD can decrease the number of design and production reviews, and shorten lead times. But, at present, suppliers may be faced with improper technologies as the transition is being made from 2D-CAD to 3D -CAD system.

Suggested Citation

  • Seunghwan Ku & Takahiro Fujimoto, 2000. ""The Use of Digital Technology and its Effect The Use of Digital Technology and its Effect on Product Development in the Automobile Parts Industry" (in Japanese)," CIRJE J-Series CIRJE-J-27, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:jseres:2000cj27

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