Birmingham-based Industry Forum’s ‘learn from the best’ visit to Japan

September 7, 2009

 Sep 7 2009 by John Cranage, Birmingham Post

Industrialists and engineers from all over the UK are being invited to take advantage of a chance to learn the secrets of Japanese manufacturing first hand in a “learn from the best” initiative run by the Birmingham-based Industry Forum.

The visit to Japan from November 21 to December 5 will be the ninth in a programme of Best Practice visits. Delegates – industry executives from a wide range of sectors – will visit some of Japan’s top manufacturing companies.

In the five years that visits have been running delegates from the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, food processing, white goods and other sectors have been given unprecedented access to manufacturing processes which are the envy of the world and rarely duplicated outside Japan with total effectiveness.

The ground-breaking visit has been made possible by contacts made by Industry Forum director Arthur David, who formerly worked for Nissan and General Motors, and Industry Forum executive co-ordinator Koji Wanaka, who was a senior official at Honda.

The visit will include detailed briefings by senior management at Nissan, Honda and Toyota and their major suppliers, as well as non-automotive companies.

Delegates will also attend detailed lectures from world-renowned Japanese experts on quality and total productive maintenance, as well as a presentation and reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo. Delegates on last year’s visit said it was a real eye-opener. Chris Taylor, lean change manager at Siemens, said: “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see world-class production really taking place.”

Peter Jones, specialist manufacturing adviser at the West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service, said: “Seeing and touching has put all the theory into real perspective and is the greatest motivational experience possible.”

The cost of the programme is £7,800 plus VAT which includes accommodation at a Tokyo hotel, flights, internal transport, all visits, interpreters and support from Industry Forum staff.

Mr David said previous visits had a “life-changing effect” on some delegates.

“The Japanese never stay still in business and all of the latest thinking in terms of lean manufacturing, quality, waste elimination, cost, efficiency and delivery originates in Japan,” he said. “There’s no better way than learning first hand from the best in the world.

“It is often claimed in the UK and western Europe that we can’t compete with Far Eastern countries because our labour costs are high.

“But Japan has some of the highest labour costs in the world and still leads the way in manufacturing efficiency.

“Japanese industry has spent decades refining their approach to manufacturing process control and people productivity and has deservedly gained worldwide recognition.

“This programme allows delegates to experience first hand what Japanese companies are doing and how they are maintaining their international reputation. In the past the Japanese have been protective of their secrets so opportunities like this are very rare indeed.”

The Industry Forum – based at Birmingham Business Park – was set up in 1996 by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to improve competitiveness in the UK-based vehicle and components industry. Its practical programmes have led to major improvements by automotive suppliers across the UK and are being used in other industry sectors including aerospace, food processing and the construction equipment industry.

For further details of the Japanese visit call Arthur David at the SMMT Industry Forum on 0121 717 6613.

Birmingham Post – Business – Business News – Automotive Business – Birmingham-based Industry Forum’s ‘learn from the best’ visit to Japan

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