Message from the Director in Charge of Digital Transformations

Implementing Corporate and Business Transformations (CX and BX)

During the previous medium-term management plan, Shimadzu faced city lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortages due to employee infections. Furthermore, during FY 2022, difficulties obtaining parts such as semiconductors, along with other ongoing challenging circumstances, have made it difficult to maintain production as planned. To be honest, we barely overcame the challenges thanks to employees working labor-intensively as a unified team. I am happy that we made it through the difficulties, but doing so also revealed various issues.
The biggest challenge seems to be our slowness to utilize digital technologies and data. Therefore, for the new medium-term management plan, we will implement DX measures for strengthening our management base. Digital transformations (DX) will require both corporate transformation (CX) measures for transforming the corporate culture and mindset and business transformation (BX) measures for transforming business models.

Implementing CX Measures for Standardizing Business Processes and Utilizing Data

The main theme of CX is standardizing business processes. Improving, modifying, or updating business systems involves a great deal of work and effort. That is because each department has established systems that are optimized for their own unique workflow. That is in an extremely unfortunate situation. If systems are built optimized for a particular department, then only limited benefits can be achieved from improvements. It also makes it difficult to transfer business processes to other personnel.
Therefore, we intend to make a strong effort to achieve standardization. By standardizing systems and process steps, we intend to establish unified formats and processes that are the same in all departments. Information system departments are not the only departments involved in standardization. By standardizing systems and processes in each department of the entire company, including the manufacturing, sales, and service departments, we will achieve the visibility of all activities based on data.
By reforming manufacturing processes through the use of data, we will achieve improvements in quality, cost, and delivery (QCD). For Quality, we will focus on quality improvement using manufacturing data. For example, whenever there is any deviation in the manufacturing data, we will promptly investigate the cause and take appropriate actions. By addressing issues early on, we can prevent potential defects and enhance product quality. Regarding Cost, we will drive cost reduction by improving manufacturing quality to reduce loss costs and implementing automation for cost efficiency. In terms of delivery, we will gather various data about products, such as installation information available from service operations and customer delivery information available from sales operations, to determine when and where customers around the world prefer to have products delivered and installed, and then ensure production quantities are optimized according to the preferred delivery dates.

Using BX to Collaborate with Partners around the World

For BX, we will use digital services to increase the opportunities for interacting with customers, in order to cultivate deeper relationships with customers around the world in combination with face-to-face meetings. Then the data obtained from digital services and information gathered from face-to-face sales activities will be analyzed and utilized for business purposes. In the future, information obtained from data analysis, AI chat/community sites, and other sources will be provided as feedback within Shimadzu. We intend to expand opportunities for business and collaboration by linking digital and in-person data to capture feedback from partners throughout the world as quickly as possible.

Training DX Human Resources

Tools are needed for implementing DX measures, of course, but they are wasted unless there are personnel that can fully utilize those tools. We are actively pursuing talent acquisition, including mid-career hiring. However, in the current competitive landscape, IT talent is in high demand, and it is uncertain when we can secure highly skilled individuals due to fierce competition among companies. Since the establishment of the department, we have initiated a program to nurture talent capable of utilizing data. Now, individuals who have completed the program are actively contributing in various departments. We will continue to foster this momentum and ensure that many employees become proficient in data utilization.

Culture of Improvement

Currently, if asked whether the Shimadzu Group is proficient at digital transformations, the answer would unfortunately be “no.” We are not close to achieving standardization goals yet and some systems are still optimized for particular departments.
However, I am not pessimistic. The reason is that Shimadzu employees are instilled with a culture of improvement. For example, for the past 37 years, the Shimadzu Group has been conducting “Do it Ourselves” (DIO) small-group activities. Recently, the DIO groups have even used robotic process automation (RPA) technology to save labor by automating production line processes. 
I believe that there are more employees who are willing to attempt problem-solving rather than those who consider improvement to be difficult. Therefore, we intend to implement DX measures based on a culture of thinking for ourselves and ceaselessly making improvements. Shimadzu Group employees should be able to do that.

Expect Great DX Measures from Shimadzu

Looking back, after joining Shimadzu I was involved in product development for 14 years, manufacturing for 20 years, and sales for 5 years. Through various experiences in different roles, I have come to understand the perspectives of others more easily. In particular, a turning point occurred during my fifth year at Shimadzu, when I was seconded to our German subsidiary to establish a new manufacturing plant. Being involved in all manufacturing processes and interacting with various people within and outside the company also broadened my horizons.
Similarly, I also want other employees to broaden their perspective for implementing DX measures. Doing so will surely make Shimadzu stronger than it is today. Expect great DX measures from Shimadzu as we use them to implement major reforms.

Biography of Katsuaki Kaito,
Senior Managing Executive Officer
In Charge of Manufacturing, CS Management, and DX/IT Strategy
Deputy in Charge of Human Resources

Apr. 1983   Joined Shimadzu Corporation
Oct. 2000   R&D Manager (Manager), LC Department, Analytical Instruments Division
Jun. 2003   President, Shimadzu U.S.A. Manufacturing, Inc.
Oct. 2008   General Manager, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Plant, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Division
Jun. 2011   Deputy General Manager, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Division and concurrently General Manager, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Plant
Jun. 2015   President, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc.
Jun. 2016   Corporate Officer, President, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc.
Apr. 2020   Managing Executive Officer in Charge of Manufacturing, CS, and Information Systems
Apr. 2021   Managing Executive Officer in Charge of Manufacturing and CS, Deputy in Charge of DX Promotion (current DX/IT Strategy)
Apr. 2023   Senior Managing Executive Officer in Charge of Manufacturing, CS, and DX/IT Strategy, and Deputy in Charge of Human Resources (current)