Ando merger lit the way to Yokogawa’s future

Ando merger lit the way to Yokogawa’s future

by January 19, 2023

Twenty years can be a long time in the history of a company – although the pedigree of Yokogawa goes back to 1915 when Tamisuke Yokogawa established an electric meter research institute in Tokyo, it was an event back in the early 2000s that set the scene for the company to expand into optical measurement.

Back in those days, Yokogawa was already very active in the test and measurement business, with a well established reputation for high quality oscilloscopes, data recorders and electric power measurement devices. Building on its heritage of quality, Yokogawa had ambitions to bring the same high quality to optical test and measurement instruments.

Then along came the telecoms bubble of the early 21st century, which ballooned quickly and then even more rapidly burst, leaving some measurement solutions companies lacking business. Just such a company was Ando Electric, a respected developer of optical measurement devices. Well regarded for the flexibility and reliability of its optical analyzers, Ando was a valuable commodity, with highly skilled development engineers such as Tohru Mori and Takashi Iwasaki. Yokogawa saw bringing  Ando into its fold as a major win-win for both companies. Subsequently, 2002 saw Yokogawa become the sole owners of Ando Electric’s stock.

It benefited both companies because Yokogawa had customer enquiries from people wanting to test opto-electronics devices, while Ando customers were demanding oscilloscopes and other electrical test and measurement instruments. Separately, neither could deliver both these requests, but together, they could offer a complete package. Widening its offering to customers has helped Yokogawa climb the ladder and become a bigger player in the global test and measurement market.

Ando’s development engineers also benefitted – with access to a greater range of development tools, they could really unleash their talents and develop highly advanced optical spectrum analyzers. Then as now, its engineers continue to devote their efforts and skills to developing ever more capable products.

The acquisition has had a profound effect on the value Yokogawa can offer to customers.  For example, in the 1980s, a typical optical time domain reflector, or OTDR, from Ando was retailing at €50,000 (100.000 Deutsche Mark)- today you can get similar, more advanced solutions from Yokogawa starting at around €3000. The introduction of the OTDR into the Yokogawa quality environment allowed us to meet the needs of a large German network operator, selling it a large number of OTDRs between 2011 and 2015.

Combining Ando’s technology with Yokogawa’s efficient production and economies of scale has made the company a world leading developer of the most precise optical spectrum analyzers. Alongside this, Yokogawa has been keen to develop a better relationship with customers, with offers including a three year warranty and calibration agreements. Another tack was webinars to explain about optical spectrum analysis, as well as seminars for customers on their own sites. These initiatives show that Yokogawa is a leader in its field, offering best in class technology as well as extensive and continuing support.

When it comes to looking back over the technological highlights of the past 20 years, I would point out the continuous development achieved in widening the range of wavelengths we can offer. Yokogawa understood that optical spectrum analyzers are also required for other ranges where sensing is done, such as with light detection and ranging or LIDAR – this wavelength range has been widened up to 5.5 microns and Yokogawa is already looking beyond this.

We have also achieved the highest resolution in instruments for the telecom market, with the AQ6380 now offering a five picometer resolution.  This allows engineers and scientists to develop and improve the speed, bandwidth and quality of the next generation of communication networks.

Another highlight is our approach of offering a standalone instrument, with no need to use a PC to access and display the data.

With more photonic sensors being used in vehicles, glass fibre optics in every home and the ever increasing uses for LIDAR, the market for optical spectrum analyzers is continuing to grow. This is now a major field for Yokogawa, one that we owe to joining with Ando, a pioneering company that lit the way to the future for us all those years ago.

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