As a global supplier of wiring harnesses, Sumitomo Wiring Systems is developing business all over the world. Our wiring harnesses are labor-intensive products and need a lot of manpower to manufacture. We have to provide products with the same, best quality to our customers no matter where they are and no matter where and by whom the products are made. To achieve this mission, we’ve been committed to human resource development. Let us show you our enthusiastic thoughts and activities.
Human resource development is the key to wiring harness manufacturing that depends on the work of people around the world.
Sumitomo Wiring Systems is a global supplier of wiring harnesses. As a partner to automakers who develop cars worldwide, we’ve built networks in many countries throughout Asia and Oceania, the Americas, and Europe, as well as in Japan.
Wiring harness manufacturing demands a lot of manpower. To maintain quality, the operators’ skills play a very important role. We think human resource development is critical to improving customer satisfaction and growing our businesses. We need to overcome differences among regions and nationalities to develop people who share common skills at a high level as we expand our manufacturing bases around the world. We work under the slogan “Manufacturing means human resource development” and continually strive to develop human resources.
G-STARS, a globally common training and evaluation system, has now become a communication tool that allows our operators all over the world to exchange information and compete with each other across borders.
Our wiring harnesses must be of the same quality, wherever and by whomever they are made. We’ve introduced G-STARS, a globally common training and evaluation system, to achieve this. To improve operators’ skills, we concentrate on four areas: basic skills, processing skills, assembly skills, and inspection skills.
For the basic skills, we provide tools that cultivate flexible thinking, good handwork, and quickness. For the processing skills, we have tools that develop abilities for setup change on processing equipment and inspection of product quality. For the assembly skills, we hold image training for memorizing instructions on drawings that are critical for operations and provide tools that foster taping skills. And for the inspection skills, we come up with error-finding and other tools that improve the cross-checking ability using master samples. Our operators all over the world must undergo examinations every three months and have their skill levels evaluated, ranked S, A, B, C, and D, and benchmarked on a global basis. By training and evaluating people worldwide using the same criteria, G-STARS has now become a communication tool that allows them to exchange information, including better training methods, and compete with each other across borders.
G-STARS has helped reduce differences in skills between countries and factories and encouraged operators around the world to make improvements on their own.We’ll maintain globally common quality by continuing G-STARS.
Operators have been aware of importance of standardizing operation procedures and methods since we started G-STARS. Taping is an example of this. Each operator used to hold and wind tape differently at first. But, the more an operator tapes, the clearer the difference between fast and slow operators becomes. Then, employees who didn’t listen to us in the beginning saw the difference, started training, and, finally, mastered the basic motions. By practicing the basics faithfully, operators can learn the required techniques and improve the ability of the entire group.
Moreover, a better-than-expected movement occurred. In a certain country, a factory added and practiced its own check items to those specified with the G-STARS by the headquarters. Their version was even more rigorous than the standard training. We’d like to grow our organizations and people so that they’ll want to make improvements on their own like this.
We’ll continue G-STARS to reduce differences in skills between countries and factories and enhance the basic capabilities of the entire group. This will enable us to maintain the globally common quality we advocate.
In the Skill Olympic Games, outstanding operators around the world who have enhanced their skills through G-STARS come together to compete with each other in their various areas of expertise.The Skill Olympic Games are not only an opportunity for competition but also a great place to cultivate communication among colleagues from different countries.
We’ve objectively visualized skills learned through G-STARS in the form of the Skill Olympic Games, where excellent operators from factories around the world come together in Japan to compete with each other in their various areas of expertise. They learn exactly how good their skills are by competing in this way. When we started the event, the criterion was speed, and how fast an operator did something determined who won and lost. Then, we adopted quality. This caused our champions from the first year to fail to rank even 10th. The fact was they were quick, but they didn’t work correctly. So, we started to use two criteria: speed and quality.
The competition of the Skill Olympic Games encourages them to know their technical levels and aim for higher rankings. By competing with each other, operators have increased their motivation, which has led the entire group to become more capable and produce better quality products.
The Skill Olympic Games are a great place for an international exchange, as people come from different countries. The Games provide people the opportunity to understand the cultures and backgrounds of other people and to cultivate communication among colleagues who work for the same company, Sumitomo Wiring Systems.
To convey our manufacturing mechanism to the world, we need strong leadership—people who are leaders or key personnel. We believe our manufacturing approach will spread across the globe when existing key personnel foster the development of new key personnel in their own workshops.
To hand down the high-quality and low-cost manufacturing mechanism we’ve cultivated, we need leadership—people who are leaders. To this end, in 2005 we started a program called the Manufacturing School for Key Personnel. The purpose of this program is to develop key personnel overseas and to encourage continuous improvement activities on a global basis. We first started developing managers and administrators. But then we decided to train supervisors and people in higher posts as workshop leaders, because we believe revitalized worksites are essential for manufacturing.
The Manufacturing School for Key Personnel is different in Japan than overseas. In Japan, the development takes place over three months at our Yokkaichi Headquarters. Overseas trainees receive additional practical training for three more months after going back to their factories. Overseas trainees then complete the training by reporting their achievements. At overseas locations, trainees have a two-week basic training at local factories. They then carry out their tasks based on themes and hold briefing sessions to finish their training. The themes include practical challenges common to each Sumitomo Wiring Systems worksite. Featuring the common challenges brings a new theme: searching for best practices worldwide. This creates a network of key personnel who strive for the world’s best, beyond countries and regions.
Our vision of human resource development is: The key personnel developed in this way work aggressively on improvements in each workshop and develop new employees to increase the number of staff who have an awareness of improvements.
We’re searching for a more effective way of communicating and participating in the process of human resource development, aggressively helping local people develop trainers.
Also, we think about developing the trainers who will train our key personnel. Japanese employees are our trainers now, but we’d like to focus on developing local trainers in the future. We’re sorry to say that language is often a great barrier. An explanation given by a native speaker is much clearer and easier to understand than an explanation that has been interpreted from Japanese. Trainees learn expertise in a more reliable manner because a way of thinking, or a thought, is communicated naturally and directly. We’d like to place trainers in China, throughout the ASEAN region, in Europe, and in the Americas to enrich the Manufacturing School for Key Personnel. In other words, we’ll identify a more effective way of communicating in the process of human resource development.
Ninety percent of Sumitomo Wiring Systems’ wiring harnesses are manufactured overseas. To revitalize our organizations, we have to create structures where overseas sites employ local people and have them play a central role, instead of only Japan giving instructions. This is starting to happen in China, and we’d like to advance our human resources training in our factories in Europe. It is our people who support our organizations. We’ll continue to improve our potential as a company, keeping
“Manufacturing means human resource development” in mind.