TOYOTA SUSTAINABILITY JOURNAL Mar. 2019...and Spirited Away. Hayao Miyazaki, a filmmaker who has...
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TOYOTA SUSTAINABILITY JOURNAL
1 Toyota-Cho, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture 471-8571, JapanTEL: +81-565-28-2121Published: March 2019Published by Corporate Citizenship DivisionPublisher: Eiji KutsukiEditor: Mieko Iwasaki
For your feedback, please e-mail us at:[email protected]
sMiLES official website:https://www.toyota-global.com/sp/smiles/
ProcessingTOYOTA LOOPS is a special-purpose subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, founded to provide greater employment opportunities for people with serious disabilities. TOYOTA LOOPS handles in-house printing, intra-company mail receipt and delivery, and other such operations that were previously done inside Toyota Motor Corporation.TOYOTA LOOPS handles the printing and binding of this report.
Editing, Plate Marking This report is compiled using the Computer to Plate (CTP) system, resulting in the total elimination of film, an intermediate material, during the plate making process.
TOYOTA Social Innovation The F-grid Concept
Discussing the importance of resolution in regard to work, cultivating human resources, and approaches to technology. Animated film director Hayao Miyazaki and Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada.
Prepared for natural disasters—business enterprises, local government and local people are pooling their efforts for “building a factory-centered community where people can enjoy real peace of mind.”
“We want to build Thailand up from the grassroots.” Integrating the wisdom of MONOZUKURI with community leaders’ initiatives shows the way towards realizing human happiness.
“Finding joy in challenges”
Special interview: Resolution can open up a path to the future
Discussing the importance of resolution in regard to work, cultivating human resources, and approaches to technology.Animated film director Hayao Miyazaki and Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada.
P.03 Special interview: Resolution can open up a path to the future
“We want to build Thailand up from the grassroots.” Integrating the wisdom of MONOZUKURI with community leaders’ initiatives shows the way towards realizing human happiness.
P.07 TOYOTA Social Innovation (Thailand)
Prepared for natural disasters—business enterprises, local government and local people are pooling their efforts for “building a factory-centered community where people can enjoy real peace of mind.”
P.13 The F-grid Concept (Miyagi Prefecture, Japan)
“Disaster recovery is more than just clearing away debris.” Making effective use of Toyota’s corporate experience to identify disaster victims’ needs and match volunteer activities with people who could benefit from them.
P.17 TOYOTA Disaster Recovery Support (Okayama Prefecture, Japan)
Determined to ensure that the closure of a historic plant would be conducted in the way that people would expect from Toyota, the Toyota Community Trust has been sowing “seeds of hope for the future.” Toyota will continue to show its gratitude by helping the “seedlings of hope” to grow and thrive.
P.18 Toyota Community Trust (Australia)
Kiichiro Toyoda established
Toyota Motor Corporation some eighty years ago.
He knew that Japan’s future hinged on its industrial success,
and he built cars in the hopes of bringing joy to people’s lives
and prosperity to their local communities.
Today, our hometowns extend across the globe.
And we know that if we want to keep building better cars,
we’ve got to keep building better neighborhoods,
a better society, and a better future as well.
Toyota SMiLES recognizes people who are facing
the challenges of our modern world head-on,
striving toward a brighter future while remaining joyful
in the process.
With every mile of smiles,
they are building a better world for us all.
Finding those who find joy in fighting challenges.
Photo taken in front of Toyota’s Bangkok showroom in the late 1960s.
In February 1957, Toyota opened its Bangkok Sales Office in Thailand—the first directly-run overseas business location to be established by the company since the end of the Second World War.
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Resolution can open up a path to the future.
Animated film director
Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo in 1941. He co-founded Studio Ghibli, a leading animation studio, with director Isao Takahata in 1985. Miyazaki is the creator of many classic animated films, including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Spirited Away.
Hayao Miyazaki, a filmmaker who has played a very important role in the development of the animated film sector in Japan, is in discussion with Takeshi Uchiyamada, who oversaw the development of the Toyota Prius, the world’s first mass-production hybrid car. Both men have sought to address social issues through a commitment to MONOZUKURI craftsmanship. In this dialogue, they discuss the importance of resolution in relation to work, how to cultivate human resorces, and how to approach technology.
(Photo taken) In front of “Nibariki” Hayao Miyazaki's atelier. This dialogue took place there. “Nibariki” (“two horsepower”) is nickname of Miyazaki’s beloved Citroën 2CV car. Miyazaki drives this car to work every day.
MONOZUKURI (Craftsmanship and Manufacturing) is something that needs to be handed down to the next generation.
Uchiyamada: As a teenager, I was very MONOZUKURI-oriented; I enjoyed making model planes and boats out of wood, and I used to make model trains, etc. When I was in junior high school, I learned how Ferdinand Porsche, who was famous as a designer of sports cars, developed the Volkswagen Beetle, with the aim of creating a car that ordinary people could afford to buy and use. I thought to myself: “That’s the kind of work I want to do!” Although I subsequently went to work in an automotive manufacturer, I never got the chance to take a car that I had designed through to production. Just when I was starting to resign myself to this, in my late 40s I was given the task of developing the Toyota Prius. This was my first chance, and I realized that it would also be my last chance!Miyazaki: I think you really were very lucky there. While it’s true that it takes hard work to turn opportunities into real good fortune, that is the sort of opportunity that doesn’t come up very often. And in the end, it was a very impressive achievement.Uchiyamada: I think the important thing was that I had never given up on my ambition. In your case, Mr. Miyazaki, you always wanted to create dreams for children, didn’t you?Miyazaki: No, actually that isn’t really true. The period when the global animation industry was at its most creative was in the early days of Disney, in the 1930s and 1940s, when craftsmen produced truly beautiful animated films working entirely by hand. The light effects were all done by hand-painting. Today, these kinds of effects can be done by computer, but it’s a fundamentally different kind of light. When I saw these masterpieces of animation that were created in the old days, I thought to myself: “I want to be able to create something like this.” I felt that it would be really embarrassing if we couldn’t create something of even higher quality, and I think that is what encouraged me to keep working.Uchiyamada: That reminds me that, recently, there was something on TV about you using computer graphics in one of your films for the first time.Miyazaki: That would be Boro the Caterpillar. We needed to have images of lots of caterpillars together, so I thought that if we used computer graphics we would be able to create the large masses of caterpillars required. In the end, it turned out to be quicker drawing them by hand, and we created a lot of them that way.
Toyota Motor CorporationChairman of the Board of Directors
Takeshi UchiyamadaTakeshi Uchiyamada was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1946. He joined Toyota immediately after graduating from university. In 1994, he led the development of the Toyota Prius as Toyota’s chief engineer; he was appointed to the position of Chairman in 2013.
A resolute commitment to
The statue of Totoro at the entrance to the atelier. This statue was made by Toyota’s Prototype Production Division, using the sheet metal forming technique.
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Uchiyamada: It was quicker drawing them by hand?Miyazaki: It was quicker that way, and also, because we were able to draw them with greater freedom and more imaginatively, we were able to create a more natural-looking, more “spontaneous” image with more going on in it. When they say that using computers enables you to generate the shapes you need, that’s not really true. That was really brought home to me by working on this project.Uchiyamada: You get the same thing with car design. Nowadays, car design is all done using computer graphics, but you find that, when it comes to making the curved surfaces of the car form a coherent whole, and deciding where lines should converge, people who can’t draw properly by hand can’t do a good job with computer graphics neither. If you can’t do it properly by hand, then it doesn’t matter how good the tools available to you are, you will only be able to create something the appeal of which is just superficial. I would image that is the case in your world, too, Mr. Miyazaki?Miyazaki: Well, we don’t need to achieve the same level of precision that you do! (laughs)Uchiyamada: Yes, but wouldn’t you say that, when people are focused on just producing something satisfactory, most of the time what they produce ends up being rejected?Miyazaki: When something is rejected, you often find that you can use it for another purpose later on, so it’s not really “rejection” as such; it’s just that it’s not suited to this particular purpose. What I find is more common is that, while becoming an animator would seem to require a resolute commitment to the art of animation, you get angry with yourself because the work that you are producing doesn’t live up to your ambitions. Nevertheless, in the end we still keep drawing away. There have been several times when I wanted to quit, but in the end, although I was still unhappy and kept grumbling about it, I found myself thinking “I’m going to have another go at it.” In fact, on the most recent occasion when we restarted production, we recruited 11 new staff.
Uchiyamada: When it comes to recruiting new staff, presumably the question of how to cultivate people who can draw well by hand is a big issue?Miyazaki: What I’ve found interesting is that getting existing staff members to teach new employees helps the existing staff members to realize their full potential. In some cases these were veteran employees who were teaching others for the first time. I think that teaching others is vitally important. As soon as someone takes on the role of teacher, they become more mature, and you get a kind of miniature hierarchy developing. In the future, we will need to expand our production
division even more, which is a very challenging task; teaching people has a very important role to play here.Uchiyamada: But presumably, all the people that come to work at Studio Ghibli are people who have a passionate interest in animation?Miyazaki: There comes a point when being interested in something isn’t enough anymore, and you need to move on beyond that. I think what enables you to keep going is when you are discovering something new every day, and when you feel that you are challenging yourself.Uchiyamada: In the past, new employees could learn by watching what their more experienced colleagues did. Today, with the increased importance of overseas production and our company’s rapid growth, that doesn’t really work anymore. By putting in place an employee education system, we have been able to ensure that skills and
knowhow are transmitted effectively to new employees, but transmitting the right mindset is a different matter.Miyazaki: Yes, it’s very difficult to do that. The skill of being able to teach people effectively is something that some people have and some people don’t. And if someone doesn’t have that skill, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend trying to cultivate it in them, they still won’t have it. That has been my experience.Uchiyamada: And if a particular task is very time-consuming, then you may end up in a situation where people are saying that “It would be better to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for that.” We have done research into that, and what we have found is that AI has no logic to it.Miyazaki: No logic?Uchiyamada: It collects together a lot of data, and from that data it chooses an answer that seems appropriate. It’s very hard for us to have any real faith in that answer generated in this way. Technology is starting to develop in ways that require us to think about ethics. For example, if you are faced with the choice between running over a
pedestrian and driving off a cliff, can you really entrust that decision to an automatic driving system? It is really difficult.
Miyazaki: It’s a real binary choice, isn’t it? So what can be done about that?Uchiyamada: So far, there is no real solution to this kind of problem,
but I firmly believe that the value of technology depends upon how people use it. The question of intention, in terms of “What is this technology intended to achieve?” is very important; technology should be something that helps to make the world a better place. One very important thing for an engineer to remember is “You shouldn’t become obsessed with technology for its own sake.” I once pointed out to our company’s safety manager that “It should actually be possible to reduce the number of traffic accidents to zero.” My grounds for saying that were the example provided by Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail lines, which have eliminated level crossings—a frequent cause of accidents. The conventional wisdom was that railway lines had to have level crossings; the Shinkansen turned that conventional wisdom on its head. In Europe, recently, they have started to design roads so that people, bicycles and cars are all kept separate from one another. It’s an extreme example, but if you build dedicated roads that only cars can use, then that makes it easier to realize automated driving, and you won’t have any accidents.
Miyazaki: But once you start doing that kind of thing, then how will human society change as a result? There are some significant philosophical issues that we would need to think about. I feel that way because I’m the kind of person that views roads as things that people should be able to saunter along at their own pace. The road that I live on is a winding road that sort of meanders from place to place! (laughs)Uchiyamada: Another thing that we have been thinking about recently is whether we need to be more communication between the driver and the vehicle.Miyazaki: I suspect if I was driving, I would keep getting complaints along the lines of “Can’t you look after me a bit better?” and “It’s time to clean me!” (laughs)Uchiyamada: I feel that the only industrial product that consumers genuinely love is their car. I expect it would be true to say that you love your Citroën 2CV, don’t you, Mr. Miyazaki?Miyazaki: I’ve always driven a 2CV, but there are some things about it… The indicator doesn’t self-cancel, and in the summer it’s so hot inside that I have to fan myself while I’m driving; nothing is automated! Actually, I think that’s a good thing, though. It’s true that I’ve more or less given up trying to drive long distances in it. I suppose that, by driving a Citroën 2CV, I am “going against the flow” to some extent, in terms of what the general trend is in society today. I feel that this is “good enough for me,” and I can sense a real disparity between my attitude and that of the people who are always thinking about how to improve things for the future. A car is a car, but we are looking at it in a completely different way, which is interesting.Uchiyamada: When it was first decided that we would try to build a hybrid car, I wasn’t really sure that the project would succeed. The technology wasn’t mature, the costs were high, and senior management had given us a very tight deadline within which to complete development. On the other hand, given the problems that the world was facing in terms of the environment and energy needs, it was clear that this was something that would need to be done eventually. If the project was a failure and the car wasn’t launched commercially, all that we would have lost would have been the time spent on that one cycle of R&D work. I thought that, since we could afford to take the risk, we might as well get started as soon as possible. In the event, the young members of the development team all took the attitude that “If I don’t do my utmost, this project won’t be a success,” and worked really hard on it. It reminded me that I had been working hard myself ever since I was young. I would think that you and your staff must have a similar attitude, one of being wholly dedicated to your work, Mr. Miyazaki?Miyazaki: In the past, the dedication derived from a sense of responsibility, and also from the fact that the work was inherently interesting. It was quite common for people to come into the studio to work on Sundays on their own to get some work done, even though the air conditioning wasn’t on. Nowadays, at 8:00 p.m. everyone stops work for the day, the lights are turned off and everyone goes home.Uchiyamada: People in our generation all had more or less the same value scheme; today, there is more diversity in people’s values, isn’t there?Miyazaki: I think probably it’s because in those days, everyone was working to rebuild the country.Uchiyamada: Today, still there are people who are focused entirely on their work, like in the old days, but also there are people who manage their time carefully so that can do other things besides work. I think that these two types of people need to recognize the validity of each other’s preferences. Miyazaki: Leaving work as early as 8:00 p.m. was a new experience for me, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Finishing work at this time means that you have more time free in the evenings, and it also means that I can go on working, even at my age! I wonder if they are actually doing it for my benefit? (laughs)
The future creating with
the younger generation.
This animated film is shown only in the Saturn Theater in the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka (admission to the Museum is by advance reservation only). For details of the film showing schedule, please visit the Ghibli Museum website.
Boro the Caterpillar © 2018 Studio Ghibli
What is this technology
intended to achieve?
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Thailand—the “Land of Smiles.”Most of the small and medium enterprises and community enterprises that play such an important role in Thailand’s economy only survive for around 2–3 years before going out of business. “We want to build Thailand up from the grassroots.”Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT) and Toyota dealers in Thailand have been integrating the “wisdom of MONOZUKURI” with local community leaders’ initiatives.The result has been not just increased efficiency, but also, and more importantly, an increase in human happiness.A new society is starting to develop.
Saithip (right), who set up a rice cracker factory in Khon Kaen Province, a largely rural area in northeast Thailand. “My goal was to be able to live at home with my family,” she says, with a smile of contentment on her face.Saithip, together with her husband (left) and daughter (center).
Using the wisdom of MONOZUKURI to create happiness.
TOYOTA Social Innovation
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In Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, a taxi driver explains that “Every year for 30 years, since I was 16, I have worked as a farmer in my home community during the rainy season, and then gone off to work as a migrant worker in the dry season… We can’t make enough money growing rice.” Income levels in the city are six times higher than they are in rural areas. “Bangkok is only good for making money.” Many people who would prefer to live at home with their family are unable to do so because they need to leave home to find work. Saithip was one of these people. Saithip was born around 50 years ago into a rice-farming household near the city of Khon Kaen. Her family was one of the poorest in the village, and her school uniforms were all hand-me-downs that other children didn’t need anymore. She liked working in the fields, but she felt uneasy about the idea of spending the rest of her life doing the same things over and over again. Around the time when she finished elementary school, her village suffered severe flooding, and people were saying that the rice-fields were so badly damaged that it would be 10 years before they could hope to get a decent crop from them again. “If I don’t take action, nothing is ever going to change.” Clutching the small sum of money that her grandmother had given her, and carrying a change of clothes in an old fertilizer sack, the 12-year-old Saithip got on the bus to Bangkok, and began what turned out to be a long period as a migrant worker. She got married at the age of 22,
and gave birth to a healthy little boy, but because she was having trouble making ends meet, she was forced to ask her parents to look after her son while she went off to work in Japan. Seven years later, when a global recession struck, she had to return home. Finding that there were still no jobs in her home community, she left home once again. It seemed as though her children were doomed to have to live the same kind of life again in the future. Feeling very strongly that “I don’t want any of us to have to work as migrant workers anymore,” Saithip returned to her hometown.
“After all, we’ve got plenty of rice.” Inspired by the example of an acquaintance’s factory, Saithip decided to set up her own rice cracker factory. Rice crackers are a traditional Thai confectionery product made by steaming glutinous rice, molding it into shape and then leaving it to dry before frying it. Saithip came up with the plan because she wanted to be able to live at home with her children, and to help other people to avoid the misery of having to leave home to become a migrant worker. However, she didn’t know much about managing a business enterprise. With no formal production planning, she and her employees often ended up working until late at night to meet delivery deadlines. Sales growth was slow, and Saithip had to travel round the area on foot, taking her young daughter with her, to try to drum up business. When anything went wrong, her employees just waited for Saithip to tell what to do; she was the only person making any effort to really think about things. It was just at this time that Saithip started to receive support from Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT), thanks to an introduction from a Toyota dealer. When Toyota Production System (TPS) trainer Chaikun visited Saithip’s factory, his first impression of the place was that “There was a lot of waste.” Over time, he was able to persuade Saithip and her workers to make incremental KAIZEN. When employees are handling the steamed rice, some of the rice grains stick to their hands. Up until then, they had just been rinsing these
grains of rice off, but now a mesh screen is installed under the tap, so that they could collect the grains; this reduced wastage by 6 kg of rice per day. Another issue was related to the variation in size of the rice crackers. By using molds to ensure that the crackers were all the same size, it was possible to measure daily production volume more precisely, and this in turn eliminated unnecessary overtime work. The factory was also able to increase employees’ daily wage, from 200 Baht to 400 Baht. Vassana, one of Saithip’s employees, smiles as she notes that “In the past, we sometimes had to get up for work in the middle of the night, but now I get to spend plenty of time with my two children. Since we adopted the KAIZEN continuous improvement approach, I have learned to be more proactive and to think about how to solve problems by myself, which I think is great.”
① When she left her beloved son behind to go and work in Japan, Saithip would look at the photos of him every day and make an international phone call almost every week.
② The rice crackers, which are made using Saithip’s own unique recipe incorporating traditional herbs, are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a wonderful fragrance. As a healthy, organic snack food, there has been a steady stream of people making a special trip to the factory to buy them directly from the producer.
③ Vassana has been working at the factory ever since it was founded. Although she started work after finishing junior high school, she says that “I want my children to be able to continue with their studies to support themselves in the future.”
④ Every morning, the work at the factory begins by steaming large quantities of glutinous rice, which is the raw material for the rice crackers.
⑤ Saithip comments that “When I was working in Japan, I learned the importance of being kind to others from the Japanese people I was working with.” Saithip is a devout Buddhist and visits the local temple regularly to pray.
* 1 Baht = approximately US$0.03
The fields that surround the rice cracker factory.
No more being a migrant worker.
Live in the hometown with my family.
Creating jobs in the community.
Generating ideas for improvement together.
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Adopting the Toyota Production System (TPS) has also opened up a new future for a workshop making bamboo handicraft products in the city of Chonburi (near Bangkok) which has been operating for around 40 years. Of the factory’s 83 employees, 70 work at home. Komkrit, the factory president, explains the reason for adopting this approach: “When people are forced to leave factory jobs in the city, it can be difficult for them to find a new job. That is the problem which we have tried to address. Here, these people can learn new skills, and we provide them with stable, long-term employment opportunities.” The factory has combined traditional bamboo handicraft skills with modern design, and has been working to develop distribution channels both in Thailand and overseas. When the factory increased its workforce in order to boost production volume, it found that quality standards started to get worse. “We couldn’t work out what the problem was. I started to think that we needed to get someone to help us,” explains Komkrit. By adopting the TPS approach, the factory was able to identify a problem with materials management. Depending on the source of the raw materials, the bamboo used to create the handicraft products varied a great deal in terms of coloration and thickness, with several dozen different types to deal with. Working in the hot, humid materials sorting warehouse was challenging, and it took employees more than two days to fill one bag of materials. By installing racks and arranging the raw materials neatly by type, the factory was able to reduce the
time needed to fill one bag to just 30 minutes. When we asked Mali, who is seen as a leader by other employees, about the results that had been achieved through the adoption of the KAIZEN continuous improvement approach, she noted that “I am able to buy extra side dishes to take home for our family dinner in the evenings. We don’t have to work excessive amounts of overtime. Although we aren’t rich, we have enough to get by.” Komkrit comments that “The teaching of His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej that ‘we should know when to be satisfied with what we have’ means more than just accepting the status quo; in order for everyone in society to be able to live happier lives, it is important to safeguard tradition, but also to let tradition evolve and grow.”
Komkrit and the workshop’s employees.
Sharing knowledge and
benefits to create a society
in which everyone can
Kamolpong, the Vice President of Toyota Khon Kaen (Dealer) who introduced the rice cracker factory to TMT, explains the meaning of TOYOTA Social Innovation (TSI): “We want to be able to transform society from the grassroots upwards. The economy is important, but it is also important to build a society in which people can live happily, by sharing knowledge and benefits with others.” The YOKOTEN Center opened in 2018 inside the premises of Saithip’s factory. Study sessions are being held there to introduce TPS and Saithip’s own experience and philosophy; almost immediately after the sessions were announced, around 1,000 people had booked to visit the Center. Montri, a local district head, commented that “It shows us a way to help rice farmers to make a decent living, by increasing the value that rice provides. Everyone wants to produce rice now.” Recently, the value of the bamboo handicrafts produced by Komkrit and his factory has been widely recognized, and the enterprise is expanding its sales to include overseas markets such as Japan and Europe. More than just revolutionizing traditional handicrafts, by providing its exquisitely-made products, the factory is spreading awareness of the appeal of Thailand throughout the world. TPS trainer Chaikun emphasizes that “The wisdom of MONOZUKURI can change people’s thinking and how they act. As the effects spread, it can transform communities for the better.” Thanks to strong commitment from leaders, combined with the “wisdom of MONOZUKURI” that embodies pride in one’s region and in one’s traditions, a new kind of society is emerging that allows people to choose their own lifestyles. The adoption of KAIZEN continuous improvement at Saithip’s rice cracker factory and at Komkrit’s bamboo handicrafts workshop shows how “giving shape to happiness” can help communities to chart a course into the future.
[TOYOTA Social Innovation]TOYOTA Social Innovation is a program that Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT) has been implementing since 2013. TMT has been making effective use of the Toyota Production System (TPS) to support the initiatives of community leaders. It is anticipated that, by 2022, the implementation of the TOYOTA Social Innovation will have been extended to include every one of the Thailand’s 77 provinces. As one TMT employee comments, “We want people to view problems as opportunities.”
Saithip’s son has completed graduate school at a Royal university and is now working as a teacher. “People that come back to our hometown from Bangkok turn to my mother first for help. I also want to be able to use what I have learned in the city to help people.”
TPS Trainer Chaikun. “The employees have started to identify problems for themselves. One of their ideas was to bring music into the factory, to create a more pleasant working environment.”
The workshop was established on the orders of Her Majesty Queen Sirkit in order to safeguard Thailand’s traditional handicrafts. The facility is open to all, and teaches craft techniques and knowledge free of charge.
“Previously, the materials in this warehouse were scattered all around. With the new racks, and having tied everything up, things that used to take two days or more can be done in just 30 minutes,” explains Mali.
The KAIZEN production process improvement at which Toyota excels is perfectly suited to the inherent value of the products being made, and to the producers’ vision.
(Above) “I am a rice farmer myself, so it would be great to be able to create products made from rice,” says one of the visitors to the YOKOTEN Center, with a smile. At the Center, Saithip explains her unique recipe to visitors.
(Left) Saithip transmits what she has learned from her own personal experience at the YOKOTEN Center. “By transmitting my experience, I can help people to choose their own lifestyle. If the region as a whole can become more prosperous, then all of us can live happier lives.”
Preserving the tradition of bamboo handicrafts.
A future more than just making profit.
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Community development with a core facility for ensuring peace of mind.The challenge of providing long-term support for recovery, through the efforts of industry.On March 11, 2011, the Tohoku region (the northeast part of Honshu, the main island of Japan) was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Immediately afterwards, I found myself searching for missing family members in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture—wandering in the pitch-black night, without any electric power supply.With no accurate information available, and with no lights at all to see by, it was a really disheartening situation.Eight years on, the new town being built at Rikuzentakata has yet to take shape.In this report, we look at the challenge that has been taken up at Ohira Village in Miyagi Prefecture, where business enterprises, the local government and local people have combined their efforts with the aim of “building a factory-centered community where people can enjoy real peace of mind.”
Rikuzentakata City in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, with all the lights having gone out.
Located around 40 minutes’ drive from one of the biggest city in northeast Japan Sendai, Ohira Village is the only local administrative district in Miyagi Prefecture that is designated as a Village (as opposed to a City or Town). Before visiting Ohira, I had a preconception that it would just be a collection of steel-blue factory buildings. But what I actually saw there was a park where a group of senior citizens and families were relaxing, and a roadside rest area where locally-grown vegetables were on sale. If I hadn’t been looking for it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that there was also an industrial park directly opposite me.The industrial park, which is centered round the Toyota Motor East Japan (TMEJ) factory, has been developed using the revolutionary new F-grid (“Factory grid”) concept. The environmentally-friendly electric power and heat energy that are generated by Toyota’s large-scale generator unit are allocated flexibly to the factories of seven companies that are located within the industrial park. For example, the facility belonging to restaurant chain Skylark needs to keep ingredients and food products chilled continuously, 24 hours a day, and so is able to make effective use of the power generated by Toyota’s generator unit during periods when other factories aren’t using much power—night time for example. VEGi-Dream Kurihara
Corporation uses the waste heat generated by the nearby factories to cultivate high-quality paprika peppers. In this way, F-grid provides a framework for efficient production which involves collaboration between the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, and which creates jobs for the local community.What is truly revolutionary about F-grid is the electricity transmission arrangement that has been established through collaboration with Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, the electric power generated at the Toyota factory can be transmitted to the Village Office, which serves as the Disaster Management Center for Ohira Village. “There were some significant psychological barriers to overcome. Linking up the systems so that we could transmit electric power generated by another company’s generator unit was an almost unimaginably difficult task. However, we strongly identified with Toyota’s vision of ‘Growing together with the local community,’ and so our attitude gradually changed from ‘There’s no way this can be done,’ to ‘This is something we really need to do,’” explains Mr. Kobari, the head of the transmission department at Tohoku Electric Power’s Miyagi branch.
The F-grid ConceptText and photographs by photojournalist Kei Sato.
Business enterprises take hand to hand
to realize a new concept.
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Central Motor Wheel Tohoku Co., Ltd.
Skylark Holdings Co., Ltd.Toyota Boshoku Tohoku
VEGi-Dream Kurihara Corporation (Paprika pepper farm)
Ohira Village Office and vicinity
Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc.
Electric power transmission flow
“It’s not enough just to think about our own company; we need to think in terms of the needs of people outside the Toyota Group and outside the automotive industry—the needs of people throughout Japan.” The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 led Toyota to develop the F-grid concept based on the vision outlined above.While rushing to get the factory operating again, employees had no peace of mind because of the uncertainty affecting their families. When the earthquake occurred, the electric power supply was cut off, so there was no way of transmitting information; people living inland had no idea as to how badly affected the coastal areas had been. With no lighting in the village, people were enveloped in an atmosphere of fear and worry. Electric power means more than just the power needed to run a factory; it also represents the ability to transmit information, and the lights that give people a sense of security. This was why Toyota decided to put in place a system so that, while the electric power generated at the plant would normally be used for business operations, in an emergency it could be transmitted for use at the local Disaster Management Center. It was being clear that the priority order for recovering from a natural disaster was: first, focus on saving lives; next, concentrate on helping the local community to recover; finally, get the factory operating again.
The “YUI Gallery” forms part of the TMEJ factory at F-grid, and is normally used for displaying car engines, etc. In an emergency, the Second Floor area of the Gallery will be made available as an emergency evacuation center for the general public, with enough room to accommodate around 200 people. In the event of a power outage, this facility would still have backup power from the F-grid generator and from PHV (plug-in hybrid vehicle); it is also equipped with TV sets, mobile phone chargers, and satellite phones.To confirm that Ohira Village Office would be able to receive electric power from F-grid in the event of an emergency, every year the Village Office conducts joint disaster preparedness training in collaboration with the F-grid industrial park. When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, the Ohira Village Office was able to maintain a minimal level of electric power using a fuel oil powered generator but from now on the Village Office will be able to utilize electricity transmitted from F-grid. “It’s a complex system and I don’t really understand all the details of how it works, but even just keeping one light on can help to reassure people in an emergency,” notes Mr. Sekiuchi, a chief of a residents’ association who has been working actively to promote disaster preparedness at the local level.
[The F-grid Concept]F-grid is a system that aims to realize the efficient supply of energy within an industrial park by combining energy (both electric power and heat) from electricity generation equipment that utilizes the municipal gas supply with effective control and optimization of electricity purchased from the electric power company. In an emergency, electric power can be transmitted from F-grid to the local Disaster Management Center.
It takes time for an area that has been affected by a natural disaster to recover. The objective that underlies the F-grid project is to do more than just provide short-term support; instead, the aim is to help manufacturing industry put down firm roots in the area in a way that can underpin the continued economic development of the Tohoku region as a whole. With a conventional industrial park model, people commute from their homes to a workplace that is located some distance away, and this does little to revitalize the community. By contrast, F-grid is founded on an awareness of the need to focus not just on corporate profitability, but also on working together with local government authorities and local people on the challenge of community development.“Since 2011 there has actually been a slight increase in the Village’s population,” says Mr. Waizumi, who works at the Ohira Village Office, with a cheerful smile. The Ohira Man-yo festival, which was held in August 2018, was a great success, attracting around 8,000 visitors (exceeding Ohira Village’s population of 6,000 people).As both communities host a Toyota factory, Ohira Village has established
a “twin town” relationship with the town of Kanegasaki in Iwate Prefecture, and in the event of an emergency the two communities are able to support one another; being able to receive help from people you know provides an enhanced feeling of confidence. In the past, Ohira Village didn’t really do much in the way of disaster preparedness, but today the local government and local residents collaborate on the distribution of emergency survival kits, and on implementing disaster response training in each district within the Village, etc. Rather than being just a collection of rational actors focused on their own self-interest, the inhabitants of Ohira Village are pooling their respective skills and expertise to work together on building a whole new kind of community.It doesn’t matter how good your infrastructure is; if you don’t listen to the people who live there, then you can’t really call it a “community.” Toyota sincerely hopes that, for people living in areas affected by natural disasters where recovery is taking a long time, a warm light of hope is starting to appear, and daily life is gradually starting to return to happy normality.
① Personnel from Tohoku Electric Power, the City of Sendai Gas Bureau and Toyota standing in front of the building that houses Toyota’s huge generator unit. Effective collaboration has supported the development of F-grid.
② Training is conducted every year to verify the procedures for ensuring the supply of electric power in an emergency when there has been a power outage.
③ Skylark’s huge cold storage and refrigerated warehouse facility. “If the power supply was cut off, the food ingredients stored would become unusable very quickly. Thanks to F-grid, we can be sure of having a backup power supply in the event of a power outage, which is very comforting.” (Mr. Hirasawa, a manager at Skylark)
④ The staff of VEGi-Dream Kurihara Corporation’s Ohira Farm. The Farm produces around 280 tons of paprika peppers per year. By making effective use of the heat generated by the F-grid generator unit, the Ohira Farm is able to maintain cultivation year-round with fuel expenditure that is roughly half that of VEGi-Dream Kurihara Corporation’s other farms. In the future, the Ohira Farm also plans to begin utilizing the carbon dioxide emitted by the F-grid production facilities.
⑤ “It may sound over-the-top, but we actually risk life and limb in order to ensure a stable supply of electric power.” (Mr. Kobari, a manager at Tohoku Electric Power)
⑥ The delegation from Kanegasaki in Iwate Prefecture who were invited to attend the Ohira Man-yo festival put on a performance of the traditional “Rokuhara Onikenbai” dance, helping to strengthen cultural exchange between Kanegasaki and Ohira.
Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. F-grid
Under normal circumstancesIn an emergency
People can work with peace of mind
with their families being safe.
Industry and daily life are two sides of the same coin.
The approach to underpin future community development.
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To be a “bridge” that links disaster victims with volunteers.
Toyota Disaster Recovery Support (TDRS)
Disaster recovery is more than just clearing away debris.
Inside a tent erected within a shrine in Kurashiki City’s Mabi district, a TDRS volunteer undertakes volunteer activity needs matching.
[Toyota Disaster Recovery Support (TDRS)]The aim of this project is to ensure that, when a natural disaster occurs, besides just d o n a t i n g m o n e y a n d dispatching volunteers, Toyota can utilize its resources and know-how effectively to provide support that is ta i lored to meeting the real needs and wishes of disaster victims.
In February 2014, Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA) announced that TMCA’s Altona plant in western Melbourne would be closing. It was a historic factory that traced its origins back to Toyota’s first expansion into overseas markets in the 1950s. Due to various factors, TMCA was forced to take the painful decision to cease production at Altona.Determined to ensure that the plant’s closure would be conducted in the way that people would expect from Toyota, TMCA undertook an intensive process of discussion. After careful consideration, it was decided that the plant would be closed down over a four-year period. The first step was to listen to the views of the nearly 3,000 employees who worked at the Altona plant; TMCA offered to help every individual employee to find new employment or undertake vocational training. Altona plant employees worked together to ensure that high quality standards were maintained in production operations right up until the completion of the last car to be manufactured at the plant. On October 3, 2017, the final Toyota Camry to be produced in Australia left the plant amidst the tears and smiles of plant employees.The announcement that the plant would be closing sparked concerns about the future economic and social development of Altona and west of Melbourne communities. Following the closure of the Altona plant, TMCA launched a range of legacy and support activities to help the local community. One of these programs, the Toyota Community Trust (TCT), was established with the aim of cultivating human resources in the sciences, to foster the educational development of the people who will play an important role in society in the future. Many young people have benefited and one of these is Song-Tinh, who is studying to become a physiotherapist. Western Chances,
one of the organizations TCT supports, awards him annual scholarships to help covering the costs of his education. Song-Tinh lives with his parents, who are both unemployed, with most of their time dedicated
to his sister who lives with a chronic health condition. They were so short of money that he often had difficulty buying stationery and textbooks. Having learnt a lot more about young people and disability, and living with his younger sister’s condition, Song-Tinh is beginning to understand more about what it means to work with younger patients. He is excited to finish his degree and hopefully practice as a pediatric physiotherapist.Toyota has “sown seeds” at the site of the former factory. The seedlings are still very small at the moment, but Toyota will continue to show its gratitude to the people of Altona by helping these seedlings of hope to grow and thrive.
[Toyota Community Trust (TCT)]Founded in 2017, TCT provides support for organizations focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the western Melbourne area. In the future, TCT recipient organizations will be able to use the skills of the Toyota Production System (TPS) approach to make their organizations even better.
The final Toyota Camry left the Altona plant on October 3, 2017.The first Toyota Coronas produced in Melbourne in February 1965 on display.
Supporting the next generation.–Gratitude for half a century–
In July 2018, in the district of Mabi in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, which had suffered severe flooding due to torrential rains, a new program called Toyota Disaster Recovery Support (TDRS) was implemented for the first time. A group of around 20 Toyota employees participated in the program as Disaster Volunteer Coordinators (Disaster VCo’s); pairs of them took it in turns to spend a period of just over a month working at the Disaster Volunteer Center in Mabi district. Their roll included identifying the needs of disaster victims, and matching volunteer activities with people who could benefit from them. All of the Toyota Disaster VCo’s had previously taken a training course, which has been implemented by Toyota in-house since 2015.The concept of cultivating and dispatching Disaster VCo’s from within Toyota originated with an idea of a Toyota manager. “In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was involved in clearing up what seemed like endless piles of debris in Rikuzentakata City, and I began to wonder whether the work was really worthwhile,” recalls Kazuhiko Ohora, of Toyota’s Corporate Citizenship Division. Then, one of the Disaster VCo’s told him that “everyone does what they can, and then the next group takes over. In this way, we can get everything sorted out eventually.” Disaster VCo’s support the volunteers who are actually working on the “front line” by identifying disaster victims’ needs, matching volunteer activities with those are in need of help, and monitoring the progress made for a smooth handover to the next group of volunteers.
Disaster VCo’s get a real sense of having made a positive contribution towards the reconstruction and recovery of the disaster-affected areas Ohora thought. Toyota’s experience as a business enterprise can be useful in helping to solve the problems affecting disaster-hit regions.“Business enterprises have a responsibility to address the problems affecting society. However, disaster recovery is more than just clearing away debris. It requires helping people to regain hope for the future. To realize this goal, we carry out activities that are tailored to the heart of disaster victims.” This is how Ohora explains the idea behind TDRS.
Sowing “seeds for the future” following a factory closure.
Toyota Community Trust (TCT)
Toyota Group employee volunteers providing support for disaster recovery efforts in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture in 2011. As of 2018, a total of over 1,000 Toyota Group employees had undertaken volunteering activities in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
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