The JTEC team prepared written questions to be asked of the Japanese hosts during its site visits. The questions ranged from the general to the specific.

  1. Do you have a company brochure? If you do, please provide it to us. If not, please give us a brief presentation on your company: history, size, facilities, products, sales, future growth and other pertinent information.
  2. Do you have a brochure or presentation material on composite products and activities at your company? If you do, please provide it to us, and also give us a brief oral presentation on them.
  3. Please provide us with a list of your company's composite manufacturing related facilities and equipment. Does your company own any unique facility or equipment? Who provided or designated this unique facility or equipment?
  4. How do you rate your company's composites facilities and equipment relative to other Japanese companies? American companies?
  5. What would the cost of prepregs be for the widespread application to industry? Do you think the material suppliers can meet the desired cost soon?
  6. We believe JTEC has already sent you a list of manufacturing technologies (hand layup, filament winding, pultrusion, etc.) and related items (curing methods, tooling concepts, quality assurance, CAD/CAM, etc.). Which of those does your company use? And which of those does your company not use and why?
  7. Is there any other manufacturing technology and related items which your company is using or had used but was not specified on the list provided by JTEC? If yes, please tell us. Was it successful? Was it a failure? Why?
  8. Please tell us more in detail on those manufacturing technologies and related items which your company uses frequently. Why does your company use them frequently -- for cost, good quality, customer request, or what?
  9. If your company is asked by a major customer to bring your company's favorite or most successful manufacturing technologies and related items, what would your company bring?
  10. If your company is asked to bring only "one" manufacturing technology, which one does your company bring? And why? Do you think the selected manufacturing technology is the best in Japan? If not, who has the best in Japan? Do you think it is better than the one in the U.S.?
  11. The composite industry expanded at an impressive rate of more than 17% per year, but recently it really slowed down (flat to negative expansion). Is there any future for the composite industry? What do you think are the cause(s) of the slowdown? Has your company (and also other companies in Japan) been affected by the slowdown?
  12. How much of the slowdown is affected by the general economic slowdown? How much is affected by the "high cost" of composites components relative to metal components? How much is affected by the lack of or inefficient manufacturing technology?
  13. The general economic slowdown aside, the major cause of the slowdown in the composite industry is said to be the "high cost of composites." What are the steps your company is taking to lower the cost? Please be specific.
  14. Nowadays we are hearing often that the reduction in cost of composites will come from improved or innovative manufacturing technologies. Which manufacturing technologies do you think will lead to a breakthrough in cost reduction? And why?
  15. Which manufacturing technologies and related items will be the focus of your company's attention and future R&D investments? And why?
  16. To reduce the cost of composite components in the future, the following manufacturing technologies are currently under study in the United States: stitched RTM; tow placement; 3-D (textile) weaving; pultrusion; forming/stamping/molding/rolling for thermoplastics. Is your company working on any one of these technologies? Which? And how intensively?
  17. What are the prospects for these technologies? What are the major problems associated with the current manufacturing technologies?
  18. Is there any other promising manufacturing technology under study at your company? If so, please tell us about it.
  19. For improving manufacturing cost, where does your company put priority? On equipment? On facility? On personnel? or on other things?
  20. What manufacturing technology breakthrough is required for a major cost reduction which will lead to a widespread use of composites? Besides manufacturing technology, what other things are necessary for a widespread use of composites as we have with metals (steel and aluminum)? What are the hurdles? What should be done to remove the hurdles?
  21. In which manufacturing technologies does Japan excel relative to other countries? Which manufacturing technologies do you think the U.S. excels in relative to other countries? What do you think about European manufacturing technology?
  22. Would your company think about cooperative R&D efforts with American companies? What manufacturing technologies do you think an American company should or can learn from the Japanese companies? and vice versa?
  23. Our questions so far were mainly concentrated on manufacturing technologies; but to reduce overall cost of composite components for aerospace usage, other areas are also critical. Please tell us what you are doing in other areas. For example, engineering, quality assurance, procurement, certification, training, morale, and other areas.
  24. Where do you expect the composite technology and business to be in 1995, 2000, 2010? What is your company's plan to cope with coming changes and progress?
  25. Are you cooperating with other Japanese companies in composites? Through engineering associations? Which ones?
  26. Do you think cooperation between Japan and U.S. will help accelerate the widespread use of composites? Would you be interested in continuing communication on manufacturing technology? Is there a focus for this communication in Japan? Where?
  27. In your company's opinion, what is the single most important thing for success? Is it manufacturing technology? capital? people? company tradition? experience? technology? facility? location? Or what is it?
  28. To your company, what is the definition of an excellent company? How about a successful company?
  29. Can you add anything more to our questions or to your answers?

Published: April 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian