Gemba story: technology
Kazuhito Hosono has spent his whole career at UD, starting as a mechanic and climbing to the position of Chief Project Manager responsible for trucks. Here he explains the meaning of the gemba spirit in his daily work.
What does gemba spirit mean to you?
"I am a strong believer in gemba! I always tell my teammates to “go to gemba”, to understand what’s going on. Gemba is the starting point, where we solve issues, and also where we receive feedback. It is important to listen to customers’ voices directly. The voice of our customers is key to keeping us motivated and to helping us improve our trucks, so that we provide customers with trucks that fully satisfy them. It is also about tackling the problem, getting your hands dirty to get the problem solved."
Can you give us an example?
“Twenty years ago, we had a problem with a customer whose truck engine vibrated at idle. The driver could not rest well when parked. We went to the customer’s site and determined that the fluctuation of the engine rotation was caused by a problem with the injection system. We then developed and tested a solution on a prototype vehicle, until we were satisfied with the result. We fixed the customer’s engine, but later the engine started to vibrate again. We returned once more and this time established the actual issue was the torque applied when bolting the injection system. We modified it, as well as our manufacturing process, and solved this problem. This story taught me two things: First, we should go to gemba to identify the cause of a problem, and second, it is in the gemba with the customer that we can validate the solution.”
Why did you pass your truck driving license?
“Gemba also means collecting information first hand, and sometimes there is no better way to understand something than feeling it for yourself. That’s why I passed the Heavy Duty and Haulage driving licenses to be able to test-drive the trucks and to test each new solution myself. It is also helpful to drive customers’ trucks and analyze the possible reason of a problem first hand.“
Your dream truck?
“A self-driving UD truck! It would drive itself and be capable of detecting and reacting to any danger. The driver could relax and would only be involved in loading and unloading, with more time to focus on the commercial side of the business.