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Jialing-Honda Mortors Co., Ltd. 5S Initiative at New Plant, Jialing-Honda Motors Co., Ltd.

Hiroshi Kamiya, President, Jialing-Honda Motors Co., Ltd.

Hiroshi Kamiya, President, Jialing-Honda Motors Co., Ltd.

Instilling the 5S philosophy and becoming a desired employer

 There was a certain intention behind all this effort to reduce environmental impact and become the most reputable plant in the area, explained Jialing-Honda President Hiroshi Kamiya.
 "A plant that shows environmental leadership is not simply just good for the community and the earth. It also gives our associates a sense of joy in working here. The IT and financial industries are now growing just as fast as manufacturing in Chongqing. So job opportunities are diversifying, and because of that, acquiring and retaining talent has become another challenge we have to address. We've even had cases where people whom we had hired left for another company once they found a job with good terms. One reason we aimed to be the most environmentally friendly plant was because, by building a plant with a great local reputation, we would essentially be creating a place where people would want to work—and keep working. That was actually one of our goals."
 To be sure, power products are a difficult business in which to make a profit, even with a large investment in state-of-the-art equipment. That's why most of the manufacturing process is still dependent on worker experience and expertise, and only a small part is mechanized. Failure to retain workers who have acquired these valuable skills is thus a problem that cuts to the heart of the plant's productivity.

Noboru Sube, General Manager, Production Planning and Production Management Division, Jialing-Honda Motors Co., Ltd. 

Noboru Sube, General Manager, Production Planning and Production Management Division, Jialing-Honda Motors Co., Ltd.

Next to the new plant are two studio apartment buildings for associates. They have a combined capacity of 1,500 people, and all rooms are equipped with an air conditioner. Facilities include a cafeteria, convenience store, training gym, and basketball court, as well as women-only floors. This sanitary and comfortable living environment with full amenities also supports the worker retention rate.

Next to the new plant are two studio apartment buildings for associates. They have a combined capacity of 1,500 people, and all rooms are equipped with an air conditioner. Facilities include a cafeteria, convenience store, training gym, and basketball court, as well as women-only floors. This sanitary and comfortable living environment with full amenities also supports the worker retention rate.
 Jialing-Honda's solution to this problem didn't end with the completion of its new eco-friendly facility. To maintain its environmental leadership, the company needed to work to change the awareness of its associates on an individual level. So what unique steps has it been taking to do this?
 Watanabe: "What we focus on every day is the 5S (seiri, seiton, seisou, seiketsu, and shitsuke, or in English: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain) philosophy. It's a pretty basic concept, but one that everyone needs to follow closely."
 Actually, the 5S philosophy was not very well known at the old plant. To get associates to want to stay at Jialing-Honda, managers would have to instill the practice of 5S as a daily habit that would then be passed on as a tradition to incoming associates every year. Seeing the plant relocation as an opportunity, managers began urging associates to start practicing, using the slogan, "No production without safety. No safety without 5S." and urged associates to start practicing.
 "We did a number of things," said Li. "We put up 5S posters in the cafeteria and break rooms to constantly remind everyone, and some of the managers walked the plant once a month to check for issues. If he saw something, he would point it out immediately, not leave it for later. We also made it a habit of reporting how such issues were resolved."
 Sasae continued, "For example, if a manager found an orange peel on the shop floor, we would have him or her take a photo of it and report the incident by email to the rest of the managers, that way we could caution associates the next morning before work. We did that every day. Gradually associates realized what they were doing on their own and started to take their own initiative to keep the workplace clean."
 This diligence proved fruitful: a year later, the change in associate behavior was striking.
  "When we were at the old plant, it was completely ordinary to find cigarette butts or orange peels on the ground. Associates were simply used to behaving that way," recalled Noboru Sube, General Manager of the Production Planning and Production Management Division. "But now things are different. I can tell that associates who at first resisted the push we gave them have started to see things differently."

The 5S methodology is the foundation of everything.

The 5S methodology is the foundation of everything.
The showroom space at Jialing-Honda's front entrance. Among the line of products on display is the very first power product manufactured by Honda in China.
The showroom space at Jialing-Honda's front entrance. Among the line of products on display is the very first power product manufactured by Honda in China.

"We want to change people's awareness and make this plant the best place to work."

 Chongqing is the setting of Honda's first foray into the Chinese market. Having accomplished impressive advancements in production capacity and environmental performance, Jialing-Honda will celebrate its 20th anniversary in July 2013, when it is also expected to reach all-time sales of 5 million units. So how will its new plant, born during such a monumental time, grow in the years to come? Watanabe and Kamiya shared their goals for the future.
 "Our hope is to become the global leader in QCD*," said Watanabe. "By building this plant, our goal wasn't simply to increase production capacity. Rather, we wanted to build an efficient production system while also making progress on the environment—Honda's priority in China as well as anywhere else—and achieve both at a high level. The 5S philosophy is imperative to doing that. By practicing 5S rigorously, we will take our manufacturing to a higher level and contribute to a better global environment. I want to continue to pursue our original vision and make this plant the most exciting and rewarding place to work."
 "We built our plant with the best technologies available, so the funnest part is just getting started," said Kamiya. "With enough money, though, technology is never a problem; it's the way people think and act that's the challenge. Whether you're talking about the environment or whatever, the most important thing for us to do right now is to change people's awareness. From there we can get the most out of our new equipment and start working on new environmental innovations."
 Today, one year after the new plant's opening, Jialing-Honda's efforts to ramp up production and raise the awareness of its associates are starting to bear fruit. Yet this is just the beginning. There's no time for standing still in the fast-paced market of China. Associates will have to continue working together to improve their skills, sharpen their minds, and keep on tackling whatever challenge comes next. The true value of this plant has yet to show itself.
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