Diamond Electric Mfg. Corporation is a Japanese company with U.S. operations, and specializes in ignition coils for automotive and other applications. The future is as bright as the company’s name implies because of award-winning levels of manufacturing perfection, as Barbara Kram discovers.
There is no greater need for reliability than when you put the ignition key in your car. And because of the unsurpassed quality of Diamond Electric Mfg., Corporation’s ignition coils, millions of drivers can take it for granted that the flick of a wrist will result in the roar of an engine.
“Our goal is for the durability of our product to exist over 150,000 miles,” says Scott Hogan, director of operations. “Reliability is important for our customer, the OEM, but also for the end user to know that when they purchase an automobile that has a Diamond Electric coil, they can rely on that coil firing each and every time they turn that switch.”
The history of Diamond Electric is an unceasing quest for higher levels of technological development, added value and technical expertise. Diamond Electric grew from a small organization of researchers and engineers who started manufacturing and marketing automotive ignition coils as far back as 1937. The company has pursued continuous quality improvement ever since. Headquartered in Japan, Diamond Electric opened its U.S. operations in 1992 and earned the prestigious Deming prize in 1994. Today, the company has honed a zero-parts-per-million defect rate. “We have been doing total quality management for over 20 years,” says Executive Vice President Kuni Ishikawa. “We modified the system, the culture and language to promote an American-style TQM.” “Over the years, as each design has come out and each product has been manufactured, we have eliminated past problems through the next design or the next level of the component,” adds Hogan.
An old Japanese proverb says that an unpolished gem does not shine. Diamond Electric’s name reflects the company’s goal of creating a high level of quality by polishing its technological capabilities. As a result, the company has won the trust of manufacturers the world over.Diamond Electric has a 100,000 square-foot plant in Dundee, Mich., where it produces the world-renowned Diamond Coil for DaimlerChrysler and other automakers. A second, 60,000 square-foot production facility in Eleanor, W.Va., also supplies Daimler Chrysler, along with the American subsidiaries of Japanese automobile producers. The West Virginia facility is currently under construction to double its capacity and retool to the specifications of a particular customer’s needs. This type of design and manufacturing flexibility is a hallmark of Diamond Electric, allowing the company to expand product lines and increase and strengthen capabilities.
“One of the things that allows us to be different from our competition is our flexible designs and flexible manufacturing of the ignition coil products,” says Hogan. “We can make major and minor modifications to products both in design and manufacturing that allow those products to go to multiple customers, which means we are able to keep costs down.”
“Compared with other big companies that invest so much money and have a big production line, we invest in building equipment capable of producing several different types of the products with the same line,” adds Ishikawa.
Not Just for Starters
In addition to its U.S. production of ignition coils for automobiles, marine and small engine applications, Diamond Electric also has manufacturing operations in Tottori, Japan, and Esztergom, Hungary. Its world-class facilities and marketing efforts give the company a global presence for its product range. Diamond Electric also makes electronic ignition and control devices for air conditioners and water heaters, ignition transformers for combustion equipment, solenoid valves, transmission switches, various electronic control devices and industrial and home combustion electronics. “We can cover Southeast Asia, as well as North America and Europe,” says Ishikawa. “Our goal is to provide the same quality and the same competitiveness, and also meet customer requirements wherever we produce our products.”
Diamond Electric is highly self-reliant, with multiple processes under roof including injection molding, winding and assembly. In fact, the company’s winding operation, performed in a positive-pressure clean room, is probably its most critical and crucial process, and the key reason for Diamond Electric’s unmatched quality. On the research and development side, the company does full modeling and prototyping, simulating production on smaller versions of its manufacturing equipment and testing every part to customer specifications.
Timing is Everything
Among Diamond Electric’s top products is the Pencil Coil on Plug, featuring precise electronic timing and corrosion and water protection. It’s small in diameter to fit well in the spark plug, and it’s energy adaptable for high-demand combustion. The S-COP single spark plug with coil integration reduces energy loss and allows reduction in size and weight, as well as providing heat and vibration resistance.
The DIS and DIS Coil Pack products for four- and six-cylinder engines are designed for high performance, distributorless ignition systems. DIS products are energy adaptable for high-demand combustion requirements. DIS is available in a cassette style for straight cylinder vehicles (as opposed to the V cylinder configuration). “The main purpose of that is ease of assembly on a straight six engine,” says Hogan. “The cassette coil goes directly on top of the six plugs in a straight line, so it’s easily mountable right on top of the spark plugs themselves, with no independent spark plug wires.”
Thanks to Diamond Electric’s devotion to its core product, the ignition coil has advanced to new levels of quality, reliability and functionality — from the most basic coils to highly advanced pencil coils with integrated igniters. The company’s ion sense module is integrated with the ignition coil driver to help reduce emissions and control engine speeds while detecting knocks, misfires and cylinder limits. Diamond Electric also integrates the igniter (which turns the coil on and off) within the ignition coil itself.
“Many suppliers put the igniter inside the engine control unit. What we are doing is providing the igniter within the dimensions of the ignition coil,” Hogan explains. “This provides a systems cost advantage. The automotive industry is going more toward system suppliers, and we want to make sure we stay up to date with systems integration.”