Face CASE29 Face

Honda Beach Cleanup Initiative: A Focus on Ishikawa Dealers Association of Ishikawa Prefecture, Honda Philanthropy Office, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

Tatsuo Masuda, Retiree, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

Tatsuo Masuda, Retiree, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

‘The real goal is for this initiative to no longer be needed.’

 Kimura went on to explain each piece of equipment in greater detail.
  “First the Sand Rake. It has these 10 cm-long prongs that point downward, and we drag this across the same area several times using a four-wheel ATV (see note). This churns up the sand and brings buried debris to the surface, which allows us to find large objects that might pose a hazard to our work, and also lets us pull out things like wood, rope, and plastic. Next we use the Sand Screen. This is basically a sifter. We have two types, one with a screen that doesn’t move, and another with a screen that vibrates, or what everyone calls the ‘BataBata,’ for the sound it makes. When we drag the Sand Screen with the ATV across areas that were churned up by the Sand Rake, a steel bar in front of the screen throws sand onto the screen. The screen is made to vibrate up and down while it’s pulled, and that motion causes the sand to fall through, leaving the debris on top. The last step is waste processing. When finished pulling the Sand Screen around, the ATV is brought back to the waste processing station to empty out the debris. While the ATV goes back out to gather more trash, people at the station separate the trash into plastic bags.”
 The only piece of equipment that has an engine and acts like what we typically call a machine is the ATV. All the rest are better thought of as tools, as they are either pulled by the ATV or moved or operated by human power. Many Motorcycle R&D Center staff would find this strange, considering that Honda R&D could easily develop more functional equipment that uses engines or motors.
Note: All-terrain vehicle
 Tatsuo Masuda, who worked on the project with Kimura for many years and was in charge of equipment development before Kimura, explained why this is.
 “In the beginning, we did think of building some larger machine that could clean the sand all in one go. But these are the tools we arrived at. There were two important reasons for this.”
  Masuda, who turned over his position as head of equipment development to Kimura when he retired from the Motorcycle R&D Center last year, was participating in the beach cleanup in Ishikawa this time as a technical assistant. According to Masuda, “Sand is a real troublemaker. Just a tiny bit getting into a machine can cause the machine to stop working in a second. That’s why machines that operate in sand need to be as simple as possible, otherwise they’re unreliable. I’ve had more than my fair share of mishaps before getting to where we are now [laughing]. That’s one reason. The other—and this the more important point—is that equipment used for beach cleanups need to be something akin to a partner that works with you. For this initiative, we don’t think we should develop a fully automatic machine that does all the work for us; the machine shouldn’t be given the lead role. The reason being that our mission isn’t just to clean beaches. Our mission, rather, is to have more and more people work with us, understand why we’re out here, and learn to love a clean ocean. People who love a clean ocean won’t make trash, and will pick up trash when they see it. The more I do this the more I’m convinced that approach is right. So in that sense, the real goal of this initiative is for the initiative itself to no longer be needed.”

Putting Honda’s ‘three realities principle’ into practice

 Some new tools were making an appearance at today’s beach cleanup in Ishikawa: the Beach Monpal, a Honda four-wheel electric scooter modified to run on sand, and a drum-shaped sifter called the “GuruGuru,” meaning “to spin round and round.”
 Curiously, the Beach Monpal is not as powerful as the ATV, and the GuruGuru looks like it fits less sand than the BataBata. When asked why they were introducing equipment that seemed to be less functional than the current equipment, Kimura answered:
 “Only people who have taken a workshop are allowed to drive the ATVs we use for beach cleaning. But anyone can drive the Beach Monpal. In other words, using the Beach Monpal opens up the possibility for seniors who have a weak back, or even people with a disability, to participate in beach cleanups. From the volunteer’s perspective, picking up trash on a beach is a boring menial task. Children lose interest particularly fast. With GuguGuru, though, children like throwing trash into the drum. It makes doing the work more fun.”
 Masuda shared an interesting anecdote related to the GuruGuru. “Actually, I brought GuruGuru to a beach cleanup in Ishikawa two years ago. I had Mr. Sugifuji test it out and, after using it for a while, he came back and told me it’s no good. We had made a metal lid for it that’s removable, and he said he couldn’t get used to removing the lid and putting it back on so often.”
 “Well, we’re all working in the hot sun to the point of dizziness and you want me to lift this heavy lid all day! And where am I even supposed to put it when I take it off?”
 Spurred by Sugifuji’s comment, Masuda worked over the winter to make a better lid that could be used the next season. He came up with a plastic lid that stays on the drum and can be opened and closed with a single gesture.
 “An equipment test was scheduled to be held on a Niigata beach, so I contacted Mr. Sugifuji and asked him to come and try out the improved lid,” said Masuda. “That day we had a blizzard. I thought he wouldn’t show, but he did. Even with the snow and freezing high winds.”
 Like the GuruGuru’s lid, many of the parts on Honda’s beach cleaning equipment were improved only after testing them on a real beach and after listening to feedback from real users. Some parts even incorporate ideas from elementary school students.
 “Because of this process, this initiative is valuable not only to society but also to our engineers. They get to use the equipment in the environment they’re designed for, discover problems they never expected on paper, and then try to improve the design. It’s a perfect example of Honda’s ‘three realities principle’ (see note) in practice. And it’s the basis for all manufacturing. I want as many of our young associates as the R&D Center as possible to experience these activities, because I know they will get something that will be of benefit to their careers as engineers. That’s just another reason why I’d like this initiative to continue for a long time.”
Note: Known as sangen shugi, practicing this principle involves going to the actual place (genba) and source of the problem (genbutsu), and basing one’s decision on reality (genjitsu).

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