Sumitomo Wiring Systems has expanded its network around the world and has overseas manufacturing bases in more than 30 countries now while our primary customers—automakers—are accelerating their global development. Overseas production has increased to account for over 90 percent of our entire production. We’re striving for the best quality and quick supply at different locations, and we’ll build production bases that enable more efficient supply of our products. Let us describe our commitment.
Production never stops at a lot of manufacturing sites in Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Japan takes an important role in providing manufacturing technologies all over the world.
With a background in global development of automobile manufacturers, SWS conduct daily production activities at bases in various regions of the world to achieve optimal global production.
When observed according to the region, China surpassed the United States in accumulated vehicle sales in 2009, becoming the number one market in the world. Meanwhile, we have actively established bases throughout China, and our production scale is now biggest in China. As the Chinese market should continue to grow, we will catch up with it. However, as there are risks, such as a steep rise in labor costs and labor strikes, we will also promote development throughout Asia, while maintaining a good balance with ASEAN members, including Vietnam and Thailand.
In the Americas, automobile sales in mainly the Unites States showed the sharpest decline in 2008 due to the Lehman's financial crisis. The top position of the automobile sales was taken over by China. The United States is still an automobile mega-market having global influence. In addition to North America, we have also established production bases in South America, including Brazil where the market scale is rapidly expanding, to support supply in these regions.
In Europe, in addition to Eastern European nations, such as Poland and Rumania, we have recently expanded production scale in North Africa, such as Morocco and Egypt, and have established a supply system capable of fully supporting both Japanese and non-Japanese car manufacturers.
In Japan, in despite of many negative topics, such as reduction in population and the younger generation’s loss of interest in cars, we have constructively spread our production in new growth areas: HEV and EV, and have established a production system to respond to these models.
We will continue to play a considerable role, serving as a technology base, as global development progresses.
We are determined to enhance our production system to win the international competition while monitoring global trends.
Quality must not vary by operator or country. Factories around the world achieve “Made by Japan” quality.
As a professional manufacturer, we have a paramount mission: to produce the best, globally common quality and achieve optimal productivity. Wiring harnesses are labor—intensive products—operators have to bundle several tens of electric wires and attach components one by one. But, there mustn’t be variations in quality by operator or by country. The further globalization continues, the more important standardization of technology levels at all production bases becomes.
What we started throughout the world was “Pika Pika” activities or the Shining Clean Campaign. The floor and equipment at factories became “Pika Pika.” “Pika Pika” products were made there. The attitudes of the staff who cleaned up became “Pika Pika” as well. “Pika Pika” products made by the staff with “Pika Pika” attitudes are finished so well that our customers can feel confident using them.
“Pika Pika” activities, which started on the factory floor, are now prevalent worldwide.“Pika Pika manufacturing” is in place through “Pika Pika attitude, action, and skills” at “Pika Pika equipment and factories” with as many as 120 checklist items.
We first started “Pika Pika” activities to sweep the factories. The activities don’t stop at cleanliness but include as many as 180 check items for production and management: “How quickly do they prepare for production?” “Is staff management good enough?” Activities have been developed in all departments all around the world, and more than 90 percent of them have scored 80 or more out of 100 points.
People in some countries don’t even have the custom of picking up litter after themselves. They say, “There are people who pick up litter as a part of their duties, and we may not take their jobs.” At locations with different customs and cultures, we actually showed employees how to clean up and helped them understand how clean their surroundings became. The activities started in 2003 and, through twists and turns, in four years they have spread to all our locations all over the world.
“Pika Pika” activities may have started with sweeping, but they have led to improved individual awareness and product quality. “Pika Pika” has become a common phrase at our production bases around the world, contributing to the realization of a paramount mission: to produce the best, globally common quality and achieve the optimal productivity.
We have to be able to compare our abilities with those of other employees around the world to truly know how effective we are. Each employee’s efforts to improve his/her ability will lead to improvements at all manufacturing bases in the world.
To identify our ability in the world, Sumitomo Wiring Systems needed objective criteria that allow us to compare ourselves with others, and to accomplish this the company has set up benchmarks.
Benchmarking is required by our headquarters, and carries with it their goal that “Every department can reach these levels.” In the initial stage, there were some complaints about it—Why do you measure someone against another? Right! It’s not fair to simply compare China with Japan and let them compete for costs. What’s important is the effort to improve our ability as much as possible. To give an example from China, we believe all manufacturing bases in the country can make improvements, and, finally, can increase their total power by competing with each other. Effective use of benchmarking must lead to improvements at all manufacturing bases around the world.
We believe respecting different people from different countries will help ensure a well-organized production system and allow the Japanese approach toward quality to be appreciated.
We mustn’t ignore how people feel, because wiring harnesses are handmade. We need to deepen understanding by following local customs, law, and order and by praising instead of scolding. Respecting different people from different countries is a sure way to put our production policies in place. And it’s critical to help more local staff adopt the good Japanese mindset of sincerely striving for goals. Essential mutual understanding and trust will ensure a well-organized production system.
Today, wiring harnesses produced in the ASEAN region are sent to America and Europe—even the Japanese market imports wiring harnesses from ASEAN and China. The era of “Made in Japan” has passed and the era of “Made by Japan” has begun. Employees who share the mindset that originated in Japan—to make their way in one common direction—will open up the future of Sumitomo Wiring Systems.