How Japanese Kaizen philosophy is boosting SA auto industry efficiency

30 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915532

Automotive
Education & Training
Social Development

THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been collaborating with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) since 2015, under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), on the National Automotive Industry Human Capital Development Programme aimed at capacitating local automotive suppliers.

Under the programme, JICA dispatched two Japanese experts as Automotive Human Resource Development Advisors, Kazunori Hayashi and Michiharu Suzuki, retirees from Toyota. The experts have worked closely with the AIDC and have trained nine suppliers so far.

According to the AIDC, one of these suppliers, Baires Plastics, which produces plastic components for Nissan and Isuzu, had experienced challenges including stagnation due to unprocessed tasks. However, through the implementation of Japanese Kaizen principles, “the workplace and factory became more functional,” the AIDC said in a statement. 

"Kaizen" is Japanese for “continuous improvement” achieved through introducing simple yet significant initiatives that add value to the workplace.

Another success story is Q-Plas, a Port Elizabeth-based producer of interior and exterior plastic components. “Q-Plas faced excess stock in storage, irregular stock in temporary storage areas, and delayed assembly stations. After implementing Kaizen, they were able to improve production by minimizing the time from one station to the next in their assembly lines from 73 to 42 seconds,” the AIDC said.

The AIDC and JICA celebrated their partnership at an event at which the achievements of the nine suppliers who have consistently implemented Kaizen in their production lines were outlined.

Achievents included reducing waste, minimising clutter, improving production, monitoring improvement, supporting competitiveness, and increasing sales and revenue.

Shelton Zichawo, SAIW training services manager said that from a local perspective alone, the advantages of the new arrangement are enormous in that it focuses squarely on national requirements in the development of local competence and addresses directly the local needs of national skills development. “And, perhaps most importantly, it’s what our industry wants.”

He said that by combining the best locally focused programme with an internationally recognised programme, the SAIW will offer the best of both worlds.

“By amalgamating parts of the IWIP programmes with SAIW programmes we have created a world-class product to the satisfaction of the local industry. From the students’ perspective they obtain two diplomas simultaneously at each level – one South Africa focused and one internationally focused,” Zichawo said.

Upon successful completion of the SAIW Inspectors Level 1 qualification examination, the student will not only be issued with an SAIW Inspectors Level 1 qualification, providing access to the South African industry, but also with an IWI Basic Diploma, allowing individuals to enter the global market, with an internationally recognised and respected International Institute of Welding (IIW) qualification.

Should students want to go to the next level, after completing SAIW Inspector Level 1 course, they will no longer be required to obtain two years’ experience as Welding Inspectors before enrolling for the SAIW Level 2 course. The two years’ experience will only come into play should a qualified Senior Welding and Fabrication Inspector (Level 2) wish to obtain the IWIP Standard qualification.

“This enables the students to get into the market two years earlier with a higher qualification making them that much more marketable in the industry and more likely to get a higher paying job,” said Zichawo.

He added that the IWIP Comprehensive course, the highest level in the Inspectors programme will remain a stand-alone course in the future.

“A very small number of people may be caught at a crossroad in the progression path and each person will be treated sympathetically and with support from SAIW to ensure they achieve the best outcome for their future,” Zichawo said.

“Initially, Kaizen was considered Japanese terminology, but today it's being adopted all over the world. The collaboration between AIDC and JICA on Kaizen has been very successful, and I'd like to encourage JICA to expand this Programme,” said Japanese Ambassador Norio Maruyama.

Lance Shultz, Chief Executive Officer of the AIDC concurred, adding: “We're here to celebrate our milestone in aiding the economy and to thank Japan for their assistance as none of this would've been possible without them.”

The nine suppliers on the programme are: Duys Automotive Components (KZN), Acoustex Automotive (EC), Baires Plastics Automotive (GP), Supreme Springs (GP), Lumen Special Cables (KZN), Q-Plas automotive (EC), Steelbest formerly known as Zealous Automotive (GP), Auto Industrial Machining (GP) and Excellence Motor Trimmers (EMT) (GP).

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