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Vibrant SMEs of JAPAN

Improving Cost Competitiveness by Introducing a Business Management System [Awa Spindle]

Secret to Robustness
  • Products that boast of absolute control of market share.
  • Improving efficiency with a business management system.
  • A human resource development system that enables employees to improve personal development.

Awa Spindle has grown beyond the manufacturing of spindles, a type of part that is used to twist fibers and is essential for the production of high quality yarns. Expanding its core technologies cultivated in the manufacturing of these spindles, the company is now able to produce a variety of products that meet the needs of its customers. Sixth generation President Masahiko Kimura, explained, "Centralization of information through managerial innovation and human resource development are vitally important."

Products with Absolute Control of Domestic Market Share

The company began producing spindles in 1868 as Kimura Shouhei Shouten. High revolution spindles require safety performance and durability to withstand rigorous usage conditions, and chemical fibers are twisted into yarn using these spindles and are false twisted in order to provide texture and stretch. Awa Spindle's domestic market share for spindles used in this false twisting is nearly 100%, and the spindles are now used in 16 countries around the world. Many years of spindle manufacturing technology has enabled Awa Spindle to expand its product lineup into multiple areas including motor spindles used in compact servo motors, parts for weaving machinery, bearings, and automotive parts. In recent years, the company has even been manufacturing Tri-Wall Pac, a triple wall corrugated fiberboard transport packaging material that can be used as an alternative to wood, iron, and plastic.

Streamlined and Improved the Efficiency of the Organization

President Kimura emphasized, "We can't win when competing with overseas companies unless we streamline our operations and increase our cost competitiveness while maintaining quality. To achieve this, streamlining and improving the efficiency of our organization and improving our human capabilities are both essential." Since 2004, the company has advanced with efforts to acquire ISO 9001 certification for an international management system, as well as ISO 14001 certification, and OHSAS 18001 (management) certification. These efforts have not only improved product quality but have also enabled organizational response to managerial issues such as improving efficiency. The company also formed a seven committee organization to tackle areas such as 5S and cost improvements. Efforts are being made with participation by all members, and through friendly competition, the staff members are endeavoring to improve their individual skills and increase their human capabilities. The company also tackled a conversion to IT. President Kimura reflected on that effort and stated, "We spent 5 years developing a system in-house that ordinarily would have cost us 300 million yen if we had outsourced it." The system, which is called "Apros" , began operating partially in 2011, and with this system, Awa Spindle is able to improve efficiency by consolidating the management of information ranging from business operations to product development, purchasing, sales, manufacturing, shipping, and importing and exporting. By standardizing and consolidating over 3,200 operational processes, the system is able to quickly generate information that is necessary for management. President Kimura analyzed the improvements that resulted and stated, "The system enabled us to reduce the doubling of operations in everyday tasks and helped us advance with information sharing. We've been able to cut control costs by about 15%, and we can provide estimates in about half as many days." He continued, "The ability to immediately understand the status of an activity and to promptly assemble a sales strategy is an absolute requirement in order to compete on an equal basis with overseas companies. The system is beginning to yield results."

Improving Human Capabilities at the Base

Another important element is human resource development. According to President Kimura, "It was important for us to continue making investments even during the global economic slowdown that was triggered by the Lehman Shock in the fall of 2008," and even today, the company continues to focus its strengths on developing its human resources. As part of this effort, Awa Spindle periodically conducts training both within and outside the company and focuses on QC activities. The company also encourages its employees to obtain various qualifications. Periodically, senior staff members take the initiative to fundamentally educate managers and supervisors on TQM, to hold ISO related lectures in-house, and to serve as instructors to help other staff members obtain qualifications. In proficiency testing (hosted by the Japan Vocational Ability Development Association), four staff members have the Class 1 Certified Specialist level, 46 staff members have achieved the Class 2 Certified Specialist level, and numerous other qualifications are being obtained. Awa Spindle also considers communication with the local area to be important. The president himself periodically participates in local cleanup efforts and takes the initiative to conduct plant tours for elementary school children. The longer a person has been working, the harder it becomes to change that person's awareness, but Awa Spindle is advancing with improvement activities with the entire staff united as a team. In fact, at the company's first attempt in 2012, it was awarded the TQM Prize in the "Japan Quality Recognition Awards" (sponsored by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers). Awa Spindle is fully devoted to restructuring its business including its company system and human resource development. President Kimura remains motivated about future developments and stated, "By focusing on a theme of producing cutting-edge products, we are aiming to receive orders from a broad range of industries including inspection equipment and healthcare related equipment."

Many types of spindles

Many types of spindles


Improve the skills of each individual.

Awa Spindle is guided by a theme of improving human capabilities. With this theme, the company encourages its employees to obtain various qualifications, and the number of employees who have acquired certification as professional engineers is increasing. In addition, the company provides its employees with opportunities to experience various positions in order to broaden the scope of their work experience from an early stage, and the employees have endeavored on an individual basis to improve their skills. The decisiveness and leadership capabilities of President Kimura, who has overcome trials and tribulations, are a strength that has a greater impact than the technologies of Awa Spindle when it comes to encouraging not only employee growth but also continued growth of the long-established company.

Company Data

President: Masahiko Kimura

President: Masahiko Kimura

Company name Awa Spindle Co.,Ltd
President Masahiko Kimura
Industry Type Manufacture and distribution of textile machine parts, lathe machining of bearings, and packaging for export.
Address 80 Tenjin Yamakawa-cho, Yoshinogawa City, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan
Phone 0883-42-4121

Printing day:August 7, 2014

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