"Make Nikko Brighter" Efforts
Taking the perspective of our customers, and transforming from a supplier to a partner
Nikko experienced record snowfall in February 2014. Although the typical year sees around 30 cm of accumulation, 2014 saw a record accumulation of nearly 1 m. Then, on February 15, the Nikko Works Raw Strip Plant was unable to bear the weight of the accumulated snow, and a 140 m wide area of the roof collapsed. Although there were fortunately no injuries, cold strip mills, surface cutters, and other large core systems were damaged, making it difficult to continue operations. However, this damage was also an opportunity to realize anew that Furukawa Electric's original copper alloy materials are truly irreplaceable in the market, and the decision was made to pour all efforts into recovering from the damage and continuing operation. In addition to replacing damaged manufacturing equipment, we went to work revising how we ran our copper strip business.
Laying a Foundation after the Rain
Although customers were inconvenienced due to drastically reduced product supply levels, we also received encouragement and support from many customers to get production back on track quickly. Many companies are involved in creating finished products from raw material products, and it can be difficult at any point along the way to get a clear image of what the final product will look like. However, the snow damage was also an opportunity to realize that raw material products are used in some unexpected ways, and this has had the side effect of helping us to understand the market more clearly.
In rebuilding our copper strip business, we have defined the following characteristics that the new Nikko Copper Rolling Plant must offer:
- Business continuity with zero accidents
- Stable quality
- Active efforts to reduce costs
- Reduced lead times and improved ability to meet deadlines
Efforts to "Make Nikko Brighter"
"Make Nikko Brighter" is our motto at the Plant. It means making the Plant lighter and brighter. In order to get the Plant where it needs to be, we need to leverage the capabilities of the site to their fullest. With participation in 5S (Seiri: orderliness, Seiton: neatness & tidiness, Seisou: cleaning, Seiketsu: cleanliness, and Shitsuke: good manner) as the foundation for all employees, we have defined specific goals and methods split into three aspects:
- Hard aspects such as keeping a clean and bright Plant with polished equipment
- Soft aspects such as having clear and clever structures and rules
- Heartfelt aspects such as treating customers with hospitality
We continue to work within this three-part framework.
More than Just a Supplier of Products
Employees worked together at a fever pitch to order get the Plant back on track as quickly as possible after the snow damage. In January and June 2015, we started integrated production of copper strip products and superconductive products, respectively.
Keiichi Kobayashi, President & Managing Director, was in charge of recovery efforts and had the following to say.
"I've spent the majority of my time since joining the company at the Copper Strip Plant, and I have to admit that I was bit sad at first to see all that equipment get totally destroyed. But I was driven by my desire to get us back on track as the person ultimately responsible for recovery efforts. Thanks to the support of our customers and everyone else, we were able to recover even faster than I thought possible. I am truly grateful. However, our mission is to provide customers with the products they need. We will continue our efforts to "Make Nikko Brighter" and get the Plant where it needs to be in to get our mission accomplished. Our goal is to become more than just a supplier of products; we will become a trusted partner to our customers."