This year, Satoshi Hirano celebrates 25 years in the industry. Hirano-san has had a long and distinguished career in engine lubricant development and research on engine oil-related phenomenon at Toyota Motor Corporation since 2007. He is currently the project manager of Toyota’s Group No.1, Engine Function Design Department, No. 1 Engine Design & Engineering Division.
Often an individual’s exceptional contribution to an industry can go unnoticed. With the establishment of the Annual F&L Asia Awards in 2017, we now have an industry platform to recognise the achievements of our industry’s forerunners. Hirano-san was accorded the prestigious honour of “F&L Asia Person of the Year” during the recent F&L Asia Awards Dinner, held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore on 6 March 2019, in conjunction with F+L Week 2019.
The “F&L Asia Person of the Year” recognizes an individual’s outstanding contribution to our industry in Asia. Nominees are accepted from the oil, additives, automotive or other stakeholder industries. Hirano-san was chosen for his pioneering work in the research and development of the relationship between new engine hardware and the resulting needs placed on engine oils to assure durability and fuel economy of engine oils in new engines.
Before joining Toyota, Hirano-san worked for Chevron Oronite for 12 years as an engine oil formulator. During his acceptance speech, he acknowledged industry colleagues and mentors who have helped cultivate his oil formulation knowledge over many years. The Toyota representative categorised his current role within the industry as one of coordination between engineers and chemists “to help them understand one another.”
In his current capacity, Hirano-san regularly serves as a spokesperson for Toyota, and at times the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), during ILSAC (International Lubricants Specification Advisory Committee) and ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) meetings.
Hirano-san’s influence on the engine oil test landscape is extensive. He identified and published initial work on the engine oil impact on Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) in direct injection engines — leading to the formation of an industry consortium to study LSPI — and eventually to the development of the ASTM Sequence IX LSPI test. The Sequence IX is part of the API SN-Plus specification and will be part of the upcoming ILSAC GF-6 specification.
On behalf of JAMA, he worked with industry partners to develop the Sequence IVB valve train wear test to be used in ILSAC GF-6 and possibly ACEA categories, and was involved in the development and publication of the Toyota Turbo test, making the test available to the Co-ordinating European Council (CEC) to be used in future ACEA categories.
Hirano-san has also worked tirelessly on the development of fuel economy data on SAE 0W-20, which was critical to convincing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the engine oil for certification purposes. More recently, he has designed the matrix of tests demonstrating fuel economy improvements between 0W-16 over 0W-20 and Toyota sponsored all fuel economy tests. This program convinced the auto, oil and additive industries to adapt SAE 0W-16 as a part of the licensing of API SN-RC and allowed negotiating the API SN-RC 0W-16 with the EPA for approval.
Hirano-san is credited with a significant volume of technical papers and has published journal articles on engine lubricant development and related phenomenon.
We would like to warmly congratulate Hirano-san on a wonderful career. He has had a major impact on the industry in Japan, North America, and Europe and is certainly a worthy recipient of this award.