Heading towards a further growth phase

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Change of activities in terms of production from VITALIZATION to integration, to be ‘One ULVAC’

Since fiscal 2012, ULVAC Group has been pursuing the ‘structural business reform project’ with the keyword of VITALIZATION. This has led to strengthened global cooperation with our development, sales and production sections, and increased product competitiveness and profitability, etc. In addition, in order to achieve further solid growth, we have changed a course towards management that embodies the keyword of ‘One ULVAC’. With that in mind, the managers of manufacturing department met and held a round-table talk to discuss how we have been attempting to enhance our collective capabilities, based on our development capability and human resources that are the origin of the ULVAC Group’s value creation.

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications & IR Team, Management Planning Division, ULVAC Inc.
Noriaki Suzuki

Director and Managing Executive Officer,
Senior General Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Division
Hideyuki Odagi

Senior Manager, Quality Assurance Department,
Manufacturing Technology Center and Production Training Planning
Center, Advanced Manufacturing Division
Jun Morimoto

Staff Manager, Production Training Planning Center,
Advanced Manufacturing Division
Tomoko Hirose

Moderator: It certainly seems that through the structural business reform project, the role of the Advanced Manufacturing Division has changed considerably.

Hideyuki Odagi Director and Managing Executive Officer, Senior General Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Division

Odagi: The role of the Advanced Manufacturing Division has been mainly to support other divisions such as improvement of operational efficiency (e.g. accounting, email systems) through the introduction of T, administrative office of the quality and environmental management systems, conducting quality inspections, purchasing parts and support for ensuring safety and protecting the environment before. However, at present we are also responsible for certainly implementing front loading and making systems to create stable profit under the structural business reform project made three years ago. Specifically, it is our main mission now that we actively participate in MONODZUKURI site of divisions and cooperative working group companies, instruct and advise them for improvement depending on the situation, and control the whole Group’s MONODZUKURI. So to speak, our role has been changed from supporting divisions to leading them. It confused us a little at first, but now all of us feel a firm sense of mission toward further growth of ULVAC Group.

Moderator: One year has now passed since you assumed the management role of manufacturing. How do you rate the current status of the implementation of front loading and MONODZUKURI systems?

Odagi: Over the last three years, our keyword has been VITALIZATION and I think that by thoroughly implementing front loading, we have certainly established MONODZUKURI systems that will create profit according to our plan. Although we faced various issues during the course of our activities, but we re-examining our way of conducting business from scratch, and to the entire Group coming together to strive for improvement, rather than being bound by conventional practices. Since the time we introduced front loading, the number of troubles and production budget overruns have actually decreased. Also, as we have started to see improvements come to fruition, our motivation and drive have increased, and exchanges of ideas between departments have become livelier. Furthermore, the efforts of each business division have exhibited synergistic effects so that the entire Group’s MONODZUKURI systems and attitude have been vitalized and have been improving exponentially.

Morimoto: At the moment, changes in business conditions are extreme and I think that the amount that can be achieved by making improvements in a single organization or a single division is limited.
However, through the whole Group has a common way of thinking and share ideas to conduct initiatives in this manner, we have been developing many new ideas and have been able to raise results and efficiency by several levels. Our mission at the Advanced Manufacturing Division is to constantly promote vitalization while ensuring that we monitor these kinds of initiatives. At present, the results of our front-loading initiatives are gradually improving; however, I would like to see us to promote further vitalization with the aim of ensuring establishment and effective operation at each department and Group-wide implementation.

Moderator: On the point of VITALIZATION, three ULVAC Group Vitalization Programs have been rolled out since fiscal 2014. Please tell us about the background of these initiatives and the activities that they entail.

Odagi: By promoting front loading, we have organized and vitalized our MONODZUKURI systems; however, I think that there is still plenty of room for improvement. The source of the ULVAC Group’s value creation is human resources and unless we maximize the abilities and skills of our employees, and leverage the Group’s diversity to the maximum extent possible, we will not be able to approach the ‘ideal form’ that ULVAC is aiming for. In short, we must strengthen both MONODZUKURI systems and training for the personnel that support them. With that in mind, in fiscal 2014, we globalized the ‘Manufacturing Technology Competition’ that we had previously conducted, and commenced rolling out the Global Business Improvement Competition and the Skill Challenge for a total of three ULVAC Group Vitalization Programs.

Senior Manager, Quality Assurance Department, Manufacturing Technology Center and Production Training Planning Center, Advanced Manufacturing Division Jun Morimoto

Morimoto: I think that the competitive edge and value of the ULVAC Group are its comprehensive capabilities and that it has a diverse range of personnel around the globe. We are now becoming aware of this competitive edge and value once more, and we have created these programs in order to maximize the capabilities of our personnel and achieve vitalization. The important point in this instance is that we have applied these programs to all organizations and divisions, including administration, without limiting ourselves to engineering fields. We aim for employees, who work in a range of divisions, announce their everyday successes and educational skills, etc. and share with each other, while also competing against each other, to achieve global business improvements. And we also aim for a structure where the proposals, original ideas and successes of employees are widely and fairly judged and evaluated while also leveraging the strengths of management.

Moderator: It seems that this has really resonated with the employees.

Hirose: Expanding initiatives that have previously been conducted in individual countries to the entire group has generated a sense of friendly rivalry, which has served as an impetus, and increasing opportunities for communication has resulted in all employees engaging passionately with these initiatives. Actually, the other day we participated in the preliminary in China, which provided an opportunity to showcase the success to the whole group, and I felt that this greatly increased motivation. Also, I heard that the number of employees who wished to engage in further study of engineering in Japan is increasing. I think it is fair to say that one of the results of the current programs is that they have increased the enthusiasm of all employees.

Moderator: Speaking of enhancing engineering capabilities, in fiscal 2015 the Advanced Manufacturing Division established a new Production Training Planning Center, who is now engaged in engineering training.

Odagi: I think that vacuum technology is particularly necessary in growing markets. Until now, we have been dauntlessly challenging ourselves to create new value that is demanded by the times based on our corporate philosophy of ‘aiming at contributing to the evolution of industries and sciences by using vacuum technologies.’ In recent years, social problems such as global environmental issues have become prominent, and I think that the ULVAC Group’s products and technology can contribute, particularly in the fields of energy and IoT. However, those fields require even more difficult technological development than previously, and because stable profit creation during development is essential, speed and efficiency are also required. The most essential thing is technological capability, so gaining new skills and improving technology are important. We established the Production Training Planning Center to devote ourselves even more to engineering training

Staff Manager, Production Training Planning Center, Advanced Manufacturing Division Tomoko Hirose

Hirose: Until now, employee training has been conducted by the Personnel Department; however, we decided to conduct more professional engineering training at the Advanced Manufacturing Division. At present, the Advanced Manufacturing Division, in conjunction with the Board of Department Managers, determines the ideal form of each department and, based on this, creates training materials to draw out the necessary core techniques and skills. In the future, we will create programs around these training materials, and systematically implement training programs for our engineers.

Morimoto: In the future, I expect that these training programs will lead to further growth of employees and career enhancement. For example, employees who have gained experiences in manufacturing might aim to become manufacturing leaders or managers. Another option would be to leverage the experiences gained through manufacturing and aim for a job in design or engineering. Having a personnel mobility that is not always fixated on the same task vitalizes both organizations and people. Also, improved technological capabilities and results lead to Group-wide growth. I think that this kind of setup is ideal.

Moderator: Finally, I would like to ask about future initiatives. President Obinata has stated that from fiscal 2015, ULVAC will promote management with the keyword of ‘One ULVAC.’ Please tell us about the future outlook for initiatives aimed at ‘One ULVAC’ at the Advanced Manufacturing Division.

Odagi: Until now, under the keyword of VITALIZATION, we have been continuously and thoroughly implementing enhancements to our MONODZUKURI systems and development of human resources that support them by thoroughly implementing front loading. From now on, we will be adding the keyword of ‘One ULVAC,’ so we are aiming for maximum efficiency throughout the entire business, which extends beyond the bounds of individual divisions or companies. I think that this means being able to concentrate on achieving our goal of having a stable business structure by completely eliminating unreasonable, inconsistency and waste, and focusing the energy of all employee in the same direction. This includes the integration of development, sales and manufacturing, as well as the integration of the Group and various organizations. Firstly, we will promote reform for ‘One ULVAC,’ with a focus on domestic manufacturing systems. We will face many challenges, but to create new value that is demanded by the times, all Group employees must work together and strive to become a corporate group that not only engages in a broad range of industries, but also one that is needed by society.