March 13, 2012,13:17 +0900(JST) Technical Trainees, Pursue the Spirit of “Ou Shin.”
In our newsletter published last November (“SEI NEWS” Vol. 410), I described how our training facility for entry-level technical workers was named when it was constructed 70 years ago. The naming was entrusted to Masatsune Ogura, Sumitomo’s sixth Director General, who chose “ou shin” from the phrase “ete ou shin,” which means: learn with your hands, execute with your heart, it cannot be expressed in words. This phrase is a Japanese translation of a passage from the Chinese classics written by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi. Adopting “ou shin,” the training facility and the dormitory attached to the facility were named “Ou Shin Gakuen” school and “Ou Shin Ryo” dormitory, respectively.
Even today, 70 years later, a framed calligraphy of “ou shin” by Masatsune Ogura is on display at the training facility within our Itami Works, the present-day SEI University Technical Academy, together with a bust statue of the calligrapher. In doing this, we hope that those who use the facility will dedicate themselves to training to acquire a solid technical base and work in the spirit described above.
Spring is the season of graduation in Japan. At the Technical Academy, technical workers who joined the Sumitomo Electric Group last spring will be completing the nearly-one-year training course. I had an opportunity to observe the Monozukuri technical training. In this training program, through theoretical learning and practice, participants acquire knowledge and skills on autonomous maintenance, QC tools (quality control and improvement), TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), materials engineering and other issues that form the foundation of manufacturing.
Trainees were enjoying working on the tasks that included: producing name tags with an accuracy of less than plus or minus 0.1 mm at minimum cost, taking into account both yield and efficiency; creating a tool for visualizing product inventory using automata; and electrical work practice. By putting into practice what they learned in this training at their respective workplaces, they will completely master the skills. Then, they plan on taking a qualifying test in October this year to become a production operator with a certificate in autonomous maintenance.
With technological innovation taking place at a remarkable pace in recent years, various skills and knowledge have been standardized and visualized. Still, some things do exist that “cannot be expressed in words.” While I expect individual workers to dedicate themselves to training and to improve their skills and sensibility so that they can reach the stage of “executing with their heart,” as a company, we must find ways to share tacitly acquired workmanship and expertise by standardizing or explicitly formalizing them. By repeating the cycle of standardization, practice and further improvement, we will be able to continue enhancing our corporate strength.