Akihide Madenokoji: Fundamental competence in electronic products – Top technology made in Catalonia

Japanese multinational Sony’s main ac­­tivity is consumer electronics. They also produce professional equipment, mu­­sic, movies, games and even financial services.
Within consumer electronics, the most well-known products are television sets. The BRAVIA series (Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture), which includes LCD sets and frontal pro­­jectors, ensures great resolution and colour range in formats between 15 to 70 inches.

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For covering the European demand, Sony counts with a production centre in Slovakia and the Technological Cen­tre “Sony BCN Tec”, located in Vila­de­ca­valls (Vallès Occidental), 30 kilometres away from Barcelona city and very well connected with the harbour and the airport.
BCN TEC’s production capacity is of more than two million units per year, with LCD technology and a complete range of features, from products for large commercial areas to exclusive top-range models. Currently, systems from 32 to 52 inches are being produced.
The payroll varies between 1,500 and 2,500 employees, due to the high production periods, in order to satisfy the demand over Christmas and, occasionally, sports events in the summer like the Olympic Games and Football World Cups.
The supply of raw materials generates outstanding activity in the local SMEs (small and medium enterprises), especially in the fields of mechanics, packaging, development of production equip­­ment and logistic support. The main store of Sony Spain, in Castellar del Vallès, serves as the logistic platform for raw materials and for finished products. Transport infrastructures in constant improvement get us closer to the European market, to where 90 per cent of our invoicing is destined.


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The great competitive advantage of the technological centre in Viladecavalls is the integration of operations, from the de­­­velopment of new products to the after sales service, going through manu­facture and integrated logistics through to the final consumer (direct deliveries to distributors).
The facilities of the technological centre include the development division for new products, with more than 180 en­­gineers of different specializations re­­quired in the design of digital television, for any of its technologies or formats.

A great part of the products made at BCN TEC have been developed by our development division, which counts with electronic engineers, mechanics, software developers and support engineers for CAD, prototypes and new projects, such as television services for hotels or pay-per-view.
Concurrent engineering is the method used for developing products combining the efforts of the divisions of supply, manufacture, process design, pro­­duct planning and design, final qua­­lity, and of external suppliers. It is about following very strictly a me­tic­ulous plan for the introduction of the new models, through standardized milestones which allow real-time view and control of the progress of all the divisions that are working in parallel.
Concurrent engineering reduces the time to market, the costs of materials and equip­­ment, and quality problems, which are detected long before mass production. In this way, economical savings are achieved, and the reliability Sony ex­­pects is guaranteed.
Apart from developing products for im­­mediate fabrication, our engineers also work on a wide range of activities of ad­­ded value aimed to keep increasing our con­­tribution to Sony Corporation and the com­­munity around us.
An example of this is the use of recycled plastic and expandable polystyrene for the cases and packaging of our television sets, collaborating with diverse local suppliers and universities.

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This project has not only proved to be profitable and has contributed to make our operations more environmentally friendly, but has also received different prizes for innova­­tion in Spain and from Sony Japan. We also collaborate in projects of the Euro­­pean Union for the development of in­­formation technologies, getting prototypes for interactive television ready, connecting them to the internet in order to close the digital gap and prepare glob­­al ac­­cess for electronic administra­­tion. The complexity of a great corpora­tion oblig­­es us to make an additional effort in the communication between the diffe­rent fields of operation. This effort is more than compensated by a ‘lever ef­­fect’ generated through sharing devel­­op­ments between all the technological centres. Worldwide periodical meetings, usually every three or six months, serve to ex­­change information. The centres which develop excellence in certain tech­­nical or operative aspects share their ex­­pe­riences and export their advances. This communication is particularly ben­­e­ficial for reducing the development time of software components, in the products as well as in the fabrication equipment. Thanks to these efforts to maintain our technology at a maximum level we are able to compete with emerging economies, whose labour costs are extremely inferior to ours. The team work with the Eastern European factory benefits us with their lower labour costs and, in re­­turn, provides them with fast acquisi­tion of technology, consolidating a Eu­­ro­­pean operation that manages to take the product to the market on time, with minimum operative costs and with the quality of features and reliability ex­­pec­­ted by Sony. The broad range of edu­­cational options in Catalonia gives the appropriate coverage for our needs. The Polytechnic, Central, Autonomous and Pompeu Fabra universities, with their respective campuses less than 30 min­­utes away, provide electronic, in­­dustrial, mechanical and software en­­­gi­neers, as well as graduates of Eco­­no­mic Sciences and Business Ad­­min­­is­tra­­tion. Additional­ly, graduate and MBA courses at the dif­­ferent business schools nearby promote the continuous training of our directors. In the field of collaboration, our expert technicians and directors dedicate time to the preparation of seminars and cours­­es at the dif­­ferent higher education cent­­res, uni­­ver­­sities and business schools.
This wide offer of top level industrial training allows us great competitiveness for supporting increasing activities at BCN TEC, extending those of manufacture and design onto those of management in the European area: planning of Euro­pean operations, marketing quality, after-sales service and supplying of material. These activities are progressively growing thanks to our teams professionalism.

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En la línea de colaboración, nuestros téc­nicos expertos y directivos dedican períodos a la preparación de semina­rios y cursos en diferentes escuelas de en­señanza superior, universidades y es­­­cu­elas de negocios.

Esta amplia oferta en formación industrial de alto nivel nos permite una gran competitividad para dar soporte al in­­­cremento de actividades en BCN TEC, expandiendo las de manufactura y di­­seño a las de gestión en el ámbito eu­­­ro­­peo: planificación de operaciones eu­ro­­­peas, marketing calidad, servicio post venta y el apro­visionamiento de material. Es­tas actividades se están incrementando progresivamente gracias a la pro­fesiona­lidad de nuestro equipo hu­mano.
El ambiente favorecedor de la industria tecnológica avanzada en Cata­luña, visible en áreas como la educación y las infraestructuras, asegura la con­solidación de BCN TEC como un importante referente dentro de la organización global Sony Corporation.

AK_office3The favourable environment of ad­­vanced technological industry in Catalonia, evi­­dent in areas such as education and in­­­frastructure, ensures the consolidation of BCN TEC as an important bench­­mark within the global organization Sony Cor­­poration.