From the Sumitomo/Society Interface

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Sumitomo Heavy Industries Material Handling Systems
Taking up the challenge of intergenerational
skills transfer for future monozukuri

Yutaka Koizumi
Production Department
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Material Handling Systems

Fostering young people who will eventually surpass me

His subordinates include graduates of the technical high school whose students Koizumi is training. He is eager to offer guidance to the young technicians who will carry on his tradition of excellence in the workplace (top). A good welder weighs up each job and figures out the best approach depending on the shape of the structure (bottom).

The White Paper on Monozukuri issued by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry defines “skills” as capabilities based on inherent tacit knowledge. Skills transferred from one person to another through experience constitute the power that drives Japan’s success as a major contender in manufacturing. According to a recent survey, however, 80% of manufacturing companies in Japan are concerned about skills transfer, indicating there is an urgent need to resolve this issue.

In these circumstances, Yutaka Koizumi of Sumitomo Heavy Industries Material Handling Systems is doing his utmost to transfer the high-caliber welding skills he has long cultivated.

“Our department is engaged in the assembly and welding of big components of the huge cranes used at ports for loading and unloading cargo. As the foreman in charge of process management, I am training 15 subordinates in welding. To be a good welder, you need to use your brain and think for yourself. I am encouraging my subordinates to cultivate this ability to weigh up situations, rather than forcing them to apply one particular method.”

Koizumi was certified as a monozukuri Meister of Niihama City for welding in 2016 and was placed eighth in the Japan Welding Competition. “On hearing that I had become a certified monozukuri Meister, the technical high school from which I graduated contacted the company. So now I am also working as an instructor training the students at the high school.”

In spring and during the summer vacation when the Japan Welding Competition for High School Students is held, Koizumi visits the high school to train the students. One of the students Koizumi trained won the first prize in the national competition.

“Training students is a valuable opportunity for me to review my own skills. I’d like to continue training young people who will eventually surpass me as welders.”

Although Koizumi’s comments reflect his modesty, it is evident that he takes pride in transferring skills to the next generation.

Reprinted from SUMITOMO QUARTERLY NO.160

Number(From the Sumitomo/Society Interface)