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A front loading washer-dryer machine that incorporates
UD-conscious performance improvements.
We promote universal design (UD) with a focus on three aspects of our products: their quality of use, their accessibility, and their entire life cycle. Quality of use means focusing on the traits that make people feel that the product is easy and enjoyable to make a part of their lives. Accessibility refers to the range of people who can use a product or service. And life cycle covers all the customer-relevant stages of the value chain, from product purchase through to disposal.
We conduct basic research on users' behavioral and cognitive characteristics to formulate UD guidelines and reflect these in product development, incorporating input from users and experts at every stage. The information obtained during product development goes into a database shared by our businesses in Japan. We also distribute some of this information externally to promote open-source standardization and education.
We incorporate UD considerations as a fundamental component of home and digital appliance product design. During the development of the front loading washer-dryer machines released by Hitachi Appliances in 2016, we incorporated universal design to improve the product's performance, including increased capacity and extended range of functions. Through usability testing of the control panel, we explored alternative button layouts for more intuitive operation and angles for superior visibility, successfully combining multifunctionality with usability. We also made the detergent dispenser more cleanable by changing its shape, allowing spilled detergent to be easily wiped up, and improved maintainability by moving the circuit board unit to a location that did not interfere with repairs and servicing.
Hitachi's Product Safety Assurance Guidelines state that our highest priority is the safety of our customers, and, based on these guidelines, we promote activities to ensure safety across the Group.
As changes in social norms and the environment bring about the need for higher standards of safety, we are crafting even higher safety standards through the work of our risk assessment team, who share the latest practical cases within the Group and evaluate the safety activities related to each product as part of their activities to increase trust in Hitachi.
We are also proactively working to disclose safety information on the use of our products and establish the Guide for Preparing User Instruction Manuals in order to improve risk communication with our customers.
As a consequence of their rapid economic development, emerging markets face issues including food shortages, poverty, and environmental and energy concerns, which are attributed to urbanization and population growth. In an effort to seek solutions to these social issues, we are expanding our Social Innovation Business globally.
Economic growth and rising incomes in India have made bolstering the nation's financial infrastructure a top-priority issue, and the Indian government is promoting measures to expand access to financial services throughout the country, including in rural communities. Hitachi entered India's payment services market by acquiring a major domestic firm (now called Hitachi Payment Services with 1,300 employees as of February 2017) with a proven record in automated teller machine (ATM) services, including monitoring, maintenance, and support in optimizing installation for better location selection and further efficiency.*1 This has enabled us to increase our payment services nationwide, and, as of February 2017, we manage over 50,000 ATMs and over 320,000 point of sale (POS) service devices.
Additionally, in response to India's strong demand for ATMs and a governmental “Make in India" initiative designed to promote the manufacturing sector, in October 2015 Hitachi established Hitachi Terminal Solutions India (24 employees as of February 2017) as an ATM manufacturing base. Producing highly reliable banknote recycling ATMs using the latest sensing and mechatronics technology developed by Hitachi-Omron Terminal Solutions, the company is aiming at a manufacturing target of 1,500 units per month.
Like developed countries, where cashless settlement and other FinTech*2 services are widely available, India, too, is achieving government-led advances in digital payment. Hitachi stands at the forefront of these developments, strengthening its support for cashless settlement services in addition to its existing cash settlement solutions and continuing to contribute to the improvement of India's financial and settlement infrastructure.
Moving forward, we also plan to expand our financial services business in Southeast Asia and other emerging countries.