Mission Stories

In today’s world, we are facing serious environmental issues such as global warming, environmental pollution, and water shortages that must be tackled by a global team.

The KOBELCO Group, with its mission of providing solutions to the needs of society by making the best use of the talents of our employees and our technologies, promotes sustainability management based on the Group’s Corporate Philosophy and continues to tackle social issues in the three business areas of Materials, Machinery and Electric Power in order to realize a world where people, now and in the future, can fulfil their hopes and dreams.

This section introduces some of our efforts, technologies, and products aimed at solving social issues.

Mission Stories #1-1
Contributing to Reduction of CO2 Emissions
in the Automotive Field
We will contribute to reduction of CO2 emissions through a variety of automotive weight reduction technologies.

As the importance of protecting the global environment mounts, automakers have been working to reduce the weight of automobiles and moving toward electrification in order to achieve goals for reducing CO2 emissions (i.e., improve fuel economy).

In April 2020, the KOBELCO Group reorganized the materials businesses and established the Application Technology Center to further support its customers as the only manufacturer in the world to provide steel, aluminum, and welding materials and dissimilar material joining technologies. The Company proposes ideas for weight reduction in a bid to provide value as a company with technologies for joining dissimilar materials. In fiscal 2019, we contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions by an estimated 5 million tons through products for weight reduction in automobiles.

Multi-Materials That Contribute to Automotive Weight Reduction
Mission Stories #1-2
Contributing to Reduction of CO2 Emissions
in the Steel Field by Direct Reduction Ironmaking Technology
We will contribute to reduction of CO2 emissions through MIDREX®* process that enables low CO2 ironmaking.

The direct reduction process is drawing attention as a next-generation ironmaking process that can substantially lighten the burden on the environment. Direct reduction plants, which use natural gas to reduce iron ore, emit less CO2 than the blast furnace method. Direct reduction plants are not as large as blast furnaces and do not require coke. This is why they have mainly been constructed in developing countries that have their own natural gas resources. In advanced countries as well, electric arc furnace steelmakers have been using direct reduced iron (DRI) as an alternative to high-grade scrap and pig iron in recent years, since DRI is a clean source of iron with few impurities. Especially in Europe, the use of DRI has been attracting attention as a way to reduce CO2 emissions.

The annual global DRI production has grown dramatically, from roughly 0.8 million tons in 1970 to over 100 million tons in 2019, and it is expected to continue growing. Around two-thirds of the DRI in the world today is produced using the MIDREX® Process. In fiscal 2019, we contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions by an estimated 23 million tons through MIDREX® Process.

*In 1983, Kobe Steel acquired U.S.-based Midrex Technologies, Inc., the company that developed the MIDREX® Process, and turned it into a wholly owned subsidiary. Over 40 years or so since then, we, as the process owner, have been promoting the MIDREX® Process around the world.

2019 World DRI Production by Process*
Mission Stories #1-3
Promoting the Use of Electric Vehicles
by Supplying Unique Products
We will support promoting the use of electric vehicles by supplying enhanced special steel wire rods, steel powder and copper alloys.

Amid the growing importance of protecting the global environment, automakers have taken various steps to reduce CO2 emissions. Of these, electric vehicles have caught on in various countries around the world, and automakers have been developing a variety of technologies to bring to market even better-performing electric vehicles.

The KOBELCO Group supports promoting the use of electric vehicles by supplying enhanced special steel wire rods, steel powder and copper alloys with unique characteristics.

Mission Stories #1-4
Contributing to Energy Conservation
and Fuel Efficiency through Compressors
for LNG Fuel Ships with Low Environmental Impact
We will improve energy efficiency and fuel efficiency in the transport field and ensure safety, security and prosperity in people’s lives.

Tighter environmental regulations have led to major changes around the world for large ships that are the backbone of marine transportation. Needs are increasing for better fuel economy and energy conservation in the operation of large ships.

Demand is growing for LNG-fueled ships, which have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional ships in response to tightening environmental regulations for SOx and NOx emissions. Kobe Steel has supplied a large number of compressors used in LNG-fueled ships and holds a large share of the market for these compressors. Through providing these products, we will continue to contribute to solutions for global issues.

Initiatives to Reduce CO2 Emissions
Contribution to Green Society
Mission Stories #2-1
Reducing Plastic Waste and Contributing
to the Preservation of the Marine Environment
through Manufacturing Aluminum Can
We will realize a recycling-oriented society and protect the marine environment.

A key social issue today is the realization of a recycling-oriented society (a society where the burden on the environment is reduced as much as possible by restricting the consumption of natural resources), which was codified into law in Japan in 2000.

The KOBELCO Group aims to help preserve marine environments by slowing the increase in plastic waste, especially plastic bottles, which has become a big concern of late, through the production of highly recyclable* aluminum can stock.

* In Japan, the aluminum can recycle rate was 97.9% in 2019.

Mission Stories #2-2
Securing Safe Water and Creating a Sustainable Environment through Water and Waste Treatment Businesse
We will contribute to the creation of an environment where people can continue to enjoy safe, secure, and prosperous lives through technologies, products, and services that reduce environmental impact.

People’s health and living environments depend on the proper maintenance of waterworks infrastructure and disposal of waste.

At Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co., Ltd., we are involved in businesses around the world for detoxifying PCBs, treating municipal waste, and treating water, both water supply and wastewater. In the water and waste treatment businesses, we have contributed to securing safe water sources and the creation of sustainable communities.

Mission Stories #3-1
Development of Highly Efficient Power Plants with Reduced Environmental Impact that Provide a Stable Supply of Electricity to Local Communities
• We will provide a stable supply of economically efficient energy to local communities.
• We will utilize unused energy and reduce CO2 emissions from local communities for the realization of a low-carbon society.

Kobe Power Plant is capable of reliably supplying electric power with excellent economic viability, owing to the coal infrastructure at the Kobe Wire Rod & Bar Plant and our know-how in coal-fired power generation accumulated from operating in-house power generation facilities.

The No. 1 and No. 2 units of the Moka Power Plant began operation in fiscal 2019. These units deploy a cutting-edge gas turbine combined cycle power generation system and generate electricity at the highest level of efficiency in Japan, using city gas as fuel.

The Moka Power Plant is Japan’s first inland full-fledged thermal power plant, located in a safe area with low probability of earthquakes and zero risk of damage from tsunamis. With this dispersion of risks, the Cabinet Secretariat selected the Moka Power Plant as an example of improving the resiliency of the nation and its energy infrastructure. The Moka Power Plant also contributes to increasing the electricity selfsufficiency of Tochigi Prefecture.

Mission Stories #3-2
Development of Transport Infrastructures
that Contribute to Economic Growth
and the Improvement of the Living Environment
We will utilize the automated guideway transit (AGT) technologies and contribute to the alleviation of traffic congestion and the development of transport infrastructures.

Maintaining transportation infrastructure has a major impact on economic development, as well as the improvement of living conditions. Kobe Steel owns self-driving technologies that have been developed through supplying new transit systems like the Port Liner and Yurikamome. We are expanding these technologies across not only Japan but also other Asian countries. Kobe Steel participated in the construction of Indonesia’s first subway line, the North-South Line of the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit system, which opened in April 2019, contributing to core infrastructure that eases chronic traffic jams in Jakarta and improves the urban environment.

Mission Stories #4-1
Achieving Labor Savings at Construction Sites
and Ensuring the Safety and Health of Workers
We will contribute to the development of communities where people can continue to enjoy safe, secure, and prosperous lives by providing high-performance materials and promoting technical development for labor-saving robots.

Industrial robots for welding have the potential to change the way we work by reducing the workload amid labor shortages at worksites, while also ensuring the health and safety of workers.

The KOBELCO Group supplies REGARC™-equipped structural steel welding systems, mainly in Japan, in the face of falling birthrates and an aging population. In the future, we aim to solve issues affecting global society by tapping into potential demand for welding robots overseas.

Mission Stories #4-2
Eliminating the Shortage of Skilled Construction Workers
and Increasing Productivity
through Unmanned Construction Technology
We will improve the work environment for construction workers through remote operations of construction machinery.

In the construction industry, Kobe Steel has played a vital role in upgrading and maintaining regional infrastructure, responding to emergencies during natural disasters, and creating local employment, while dealing with the major issue of labor shortages caused by the declining population and aging workforce in Japan.

Kobelco Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. has been advancing R&D for its K-DIVE CONCEPT under the slogan of realizing a teleworking system centered on people who work at construction sites. If successful, this system will enable on-site work without being restricted to specific people, location or time, helping to eliminate shortages of skilled construction workers and improving productivity through on-site automation.

Mission Stories #5-1
Driving Various Technological Innovations
and Accelerating the Digitization of Society
We will boost the digitization of society by providing advanced materials.

Digital technology has rapidly caught on in society today. In a majority of countries, initiatives are underway to spur innovation based on national strategies looking at the future transformation of society and industry driven by digital technologies. Changes are moving at a faster pace in society, including changes in our work styles and lifestyles, as aresult of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The KOBELCO Group supports technological innovation on the various fronts of digital society by supplying excellent aluminum and copper materials.

Mission Stories #5-2
Promoting IT Strategies for KOBELCO Group's
Business Operations Reform
We will strengthen manufacturing capabilities and relationships with customers by further utilizing IT technologies.

While accelerating the utilization of rapidly advancing IT, the KOBELCO Group is formulating an IT strategy to drive transformation of all its businesses.

The business transformation targeted by our IT strategy goes beyond reinforcing our monozukuri capabilities and extends also to R&D of advanced IT solutions, building information systems that support work-style reforms and better relationships with customers, and the training of IT personnel. Our IT strategy is divided into eight “offensive” and “defensive” categories, ranging broadly from production sites and points of contact with customers to the establishment of systems for work-style reforms of employees.

Framework for Implementing IT Strategy
Mission Stories #6-1
Creating New Value
by Utilizing Various Technical Assets
and Collaborating with Customers
We will promote solution technologies to support manufacturing and strengthen process technologies.

On April 1, 2020, the Application Technology Center and Materials Processing Technology Center were established. The Application Technology Center conducts R&D and provides prompt user support for application technologies (structural, welding and processing) that help reduce the weight of automobiles.

It also examines potential technologies for automobiles and leverages them to develop new product lines and businesses.Furthermore, the center develops application technologies that support our monozukuri capabilities and our lineup of products for non-automotive applications.

The Materials Processing Technology Center was established to marshal together thermal, rolling process, and measurement experts from the Technical Development Group and various business divisions for the purpose of reinforcing the monozukuri capabilities of plants in materials businesses. By having these experts stationed at our materials plants, frontline knowledge can be combined with technical expertise to quickly find solutions for technical problems, discover potential problems at an early stage, and ultimately strengthen our capabilities for processing technology.

Mission Stories #6-2
Creating Innovative Products
and Services through Technological Development
We will contribute to the realization of safe, secure, and prosperous living through innovations that connect technologies to economic value.

Kobe Steel takes steps to promote the creation of innovative products and services through technological development. Since 2015, the Company has launched initiatives for this purpose, which include: Management of Technology (MOT) Lectures to improve awareness of innovation that links technological capabilities to economic value; the Scenario Planning System to construct and examine the hypothesis behind new ideas while receiving guidance from external consultants; and the Challenge Theme System to carry out intensive research on highly practical ideas with the participation of experts. One of the technologies that emerged from these initiatives was a new actuator (linear direct-drive motor) structure that enabled more than three times the power output than previous products. The Company is verifying the technologies for this new actuator, which can be used in applications that require finely tuned control with large power in a compact form, such as robots on production lines or in power suits. By continuing to pursue such activities, we aim to contribute to the realization of safe, secure, and prosperous lifestyles.

Mission Stories #6-3
Leveraging Antimicrobial
and Antiviral Technologies for Creating a Safe
and Secure Living Environment
We will make people’s lives safer and more secure through our company's proprietary high-performance antibacterial plating technology.

The advanced antibacterial plating technology KENIFINE™, developed by the Materials Research Laboratory, Kobe Steel, Ltd. in 2001, is a nickel-based special alloy plating technology that was originally developed after the food poisoning incident caused by pathogenic Escherichia coli O157 that shook Japan in 1996. It is effective not only in antibacterial and antiviral properties, but also in mold and slime resistance.

With an aim to provide safety, security, and prosperity to people’s lives, our company has been licensing other companies to use the KENIFINE technology, centered on food machinery and kitchen appliances, as well as medical and welfare related industries. As a result of not monopolizing the market, applications have expanded to include transparent films, aquaculture, hydroponics, amusement, textile/apparel, and judo tatami mats.

To continue to provide safety, security, and prosperity to people’s lives, we have been conducting verification of the effectiveness against the novel coronavirus with a third-party organization by utilizing the technologies, know-how, and experiences we have accumulated over more than 20 years