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Nov 19, 2022
Earning the trust of manufacturing workers
The importance of mutual assistance and interpersonal ties
Production Control Div.Misaki Makino
She works for the Production Control Div. where she is in charge of planning and implementing next-generation worksite systems for production control and logistics. She majored in international policy at university and spent time as an exchange student in the United States before joining DENSO in 2016 as a fresh graduate. Makino spent her first four years in production-control operation standardization and system support for the company as a whole, followed by improving DENSO’s logistics to better serve customers from her fifth year, then took on her current position in the seventh year.
Based on her personal motto, “If there’s anything I can do to help others, no matter how small, that’s what I want to do,” Misaki Makino is working on operational efficiency and system improvements as a member of DENSO Corporation’s Production Control Div., which supports manufacturing workplaces and workers. The division is closely involved with DENSO’s production operations, and has given Makino firsthand experience of supply chains and the heavy responsibility placed on supply chain workers. Let’s take a look at her journey thus far.
Contents of this article
Components used in cars around the world come from my hometown
While studying in the United States for a short period as a university student, I noticed a lot of Japanese cars on the road and suddenly realized that their parts had been made in my hometown. I was so impressed to think of those parts being used in daily life around the world, and that helped me decide where I wanted to work after graduating, which I’d been fretting about: my new goal was to find a job in the auto industry.
I was born and raised in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, which is home to many factories in the auto industry. Although I used to view my hometown as just a typical countryside town, seeing cars in the United States with components from Nishio completely changed my view of the town and inspired me to get involved in automobiles myself.
I chose DENSO from among the many different companies in the auto industry because I had studied English from a young age, chosen international studies in college, and always wanted to spend time abroad. DENSO provides a lot of opportunities to do just that.
After being hired by DENSO, I asked to be assigned to production control, which seemed most closely related to manufacturing. Also, I have always loved getting my hands dirty and building things, so I was excited to get a closer look at production operations through my work. Thereafter, I spent four years working in production-control operation standardization and system support for the company as a whole. However, I felt I needed an even better understanding of in-factory work than those in charge of onsite operations, to be able to make unique contributions, based on my own personal strengths, to the company.
I started my career at DENSO without any knowledge of the industry, so it was really tough to reach a point where I could contribute based on my own strengths and insights. Whenever I didn’t understand something, I asked people questions until I got a better grasp, and also had them demonstrate operations for me, and thus slowly but surely learned the ropes.
Responsibility for the final stages of the manufacturing process “relay race”
Upon joining DENSO, I was involved in operational improvements and support for the final stages of production, which entails shipping finished products from the factory, transporting them in trucks to the end destination, and delivering them to the customer. My work involved various activities, from modifying the system to improving distribution, and my priority was to ensure that nothing stopped products being delivered successfully to customers.
There was one time when we experienced equipment problems which led to major production delays, creating the risk of a line stoppage at a customer’s plant. I was quickly dispatched to assist at the production site, along with various associates from other departments. Everyone involved racked their brains to figure out how to prevent a production line interruption. We considered various options, staying up throughout the night to make repairs, and thanks to everyone’s hard work we kept the production line running.
That day, a more experienced coworker said something that really stuck with me: “If we fail to make our deliveries, then all of our hard work by everyone here will have been for nothing. We must never forget that, because in product manufacturing, shipping and distribution are like the final runner in a relay race."
DENSO products are the result of hard work by many people. In the final stage of the entire production process, which can be likened to a relay race, we receive the “baton” of completed products and deliver it to the finish line. In other words, our mission is to prevent any break in DENSO’s long supply chain. This is something I feel strongly about, which is why I am dedicated to ensuring that nothing ever prevents a successful product delivery.
Connecting with others to expand my network of mutual assistance
I’ve found that, through my experience as the last runner in the relay race, by helping out others when they need it, they will often help me when our positions are reversed. By forging relationships and widening my circle of acquaintances and partnerships, I can achieve results not possible on my own and, ultimately, grow as a person.
Through my work in the Production Control Div., I expand my network with other DENSO associates, including those from different departments and divisions. Even if our jobs are different, we all share the same goal of safely delivering products to our customers. By helping each other out, we can all enjoy that process more and get greater satisfaction out of our work.
I really like forging new connections in this way, so if there’s anything I can do to help others, no matter how small, that’s what I want to do. When a problem comes up, there are limits on what one person can do alone to solve it. However, by helping each other out, we can overcome the challenge together.
Even when working with a team member who may seem unfriendly or difficult to talk to, I focus on their better qualities, or perhaps something nice they said, and take the conversation from there. Through casual conversation, it’s usually possible to break down tensions and achieve better communication. I try to be easy to talk with, while focusing on my network of mutual assistance in day-to-day work.
However, if I tried to help everyone who needs it, I could suffer burn-out. So if I can’t help someone on my own, I’ll introduce someone who can assist them in reaching a solution, even if just in a small way.
I also know it’s important to be aware of one’s own feelings and state of mind in order to perform well at work, so whenever I feel stressed, I’ll enjoy karaoke, spend time at home with my dog, or find other ways to relax. For me, it is also important to talk openly with my coworkers about how I feel. By taking enough time to relax, I can improve myself and thus contribute more to the company.
Benefiting the next generation through knowledge in production control and logistics
Since joining DENSO, my work in the Production Control Div. has been closely linked with onsite production and logistics. In other words, my experience has centered on actual manufacturing and transport of goods. Based on my experience thus far and the bonds of trust forged with other people, I aim to cultivate an environment in which people from both areas can collaborate and improve things. I will keep suggesting system changes and improvements going forward.
I have a duty to pass on the mission, ideas, and approaches inherited from my predecessors to the next generation at DENSO. In this way, people can keep passing that baton of production toward the goal in the future. So, I try to ensure that younger and less experienced associates of DENSO will not encounter any problems.
By continuing to focus on connections with other people while pursuing new frameworks and other improvements, I will maintain my network of mutual assistance, and thus hope to help future generations cultivate even better systems and frameworks moving forward.
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