August 9, 2019
Interview with Atsushi Ieki, President of Okuma
Reiwa 30 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company
Dr. Ieki, appointed as the new president of Okuma Corporation, has a vision: Reiwa will be the age of automation, and the future will be led by automation. He doubles as president and as a human resources development innovation executive, making a firm statement, “Hito-zukuri (human resources development) is the groundwork for both Mono-zukuri (manufacturing) and Koto-zukuri (value creation).” The company will establish Okuma University in the near future, focusing on human resources development.
— Are there any measures to be started under the new administration?
We will establish Okuma University in-house in the near future. In the future, we have to acquire not only technology to improve our workmanship skill but also knowledge and technology associated with AI and IoT to respond to automation. The University will be aimed at all employees. All generations from all sections will learn and enhance each other there. As business and management tools are becoming more complicated, it is necessary to improve your knowledge and technology to use them, which is referred to as business literacy. In fact, the word university, meaning a comprehensive university, was proposed by young employees through discussion. I heard that they reached the conclusion that it is appropriate as a place to learn on their own and enhance themselves.
— Are there any themes you will focus on from now on?
One of the themes is expansion of the manufacturing service business. It covers a wide range, from response to realistic manufacturing sites to services using IT technology. We will provide guidance on effective use of 5-axis machining centers and multi-tasking machines, offer prototyping, and support start-up of production facilities. Recently, we started a service in which drawings can be sent and machining plans can be proposed via the Internet. Manufacturing services will be expanded as a set with engineering services. Maintaining a close relationship with customers over the long term is of utmost importance.
— Tell us about your challenges from the standpoint of sales.
Our company does especially well in the Japanese and U.S. markets; however, penetration into Asian markets is insufficient. It is also necessary to strengthen our sales in the European market, which is huge. For this reason, we will make a distributor in Germany a subsidiary to double our sales there in 3 to 4 years. In addition, we will divide the sales department for Asia into two. One is for the East Asia and the other is for ASEAN and India and then strengthen them by allocating functions and personnel to them. Up to now, double column type machining centers (MCs) and horizontal MCs, which are our strengths, have been core products; however, multi-tasking machines and the Premium Eco GENOS series have recently been getting popular. Since the Indian market is growing, we will strengthen our base and focus on human resource development.
Insights Shu Yasumi, editor-in-chief
I have a lot of opportunities to interview with top management of manufacturing in Japan (so lucky, I am). When I ask them “What is the most important task for you that you put your all energy into?”, many of them answer me “That’s human resource development” as Dr. Ieki described in this article. The ratio of mobility of human resource in Japan is very lower than that in USA or European countries so I guess, top management in Japan recognize its cost performance is well to take advantages in races with foreign competitors. Probably!
Source:SEISANZAI MARKETING Magazine August 2019 issue