Working Practice Reforms
We are implementing measures throughout the Group to improve both individual skills and organizational productivity. In addition to improving measures to improve the skills of individual employees, we are also implementing business process reforms by reviewing existing systems and business processes and implementing the latest technologies, such as AI, IoT, or robotics.
Diversity in Working Practices
Starting in January 2017, the number of "no-overtime days" was increased from one to three days per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) and the name was changed to "refresh day" to help employees visualize how they should spend the time after leaving work on those days. For example, to help employees engage in activities to improve their abilities, Mondays were designated as "skills improvement days" and an e-learning system was introduced, which employees can use for personal development to solve problems or improve skills, for example. Similarly, Wednesdays are designated as "healthcare days" and Fridays as "communication days" to promote employee health improvement and communication with others within and outside the company. Also, to improve the quality of work and promote diverse working styles based on an appropriate work-life balance and employee independence, an hourly-based paid vacation day system and a telecommuting system for employees involved in child care or nursing care were introduced in December 2017. Starting from September 2017, the scope of the flextime system implemented in the R&D department will be expanded to include employees involved in sales outside Japan and accommodate the need for more diversity in working styles.
Average Monthly Overtime Hours for General Employees
Refresh day 's internal study group
Tea Sommelier Workshop Conducted on a Refresh Day
Improving Work Efficiency
In addition to promoting personal development, working practice reforms must also improve organizational productivity.
For example, we have been actively engaged in reassessing how we perform our work, using AI, IoT, and RPA* technologies to improve the efficiency of business processes and streamline meetings, and establishing paperless operations. To promote deploying RPA technologies throughout the company, in 2017 training workshops were conducted for applicable persons in charge at each department. In the Medical Systems segment, RPA technology was also introduced for automatically entering purchase order data. Additionally, we started using an AI-based digital assistant for the internal computer help desk. Currently, the assistant helps improve the accuracy of responses to employee questions and is also being deployed for responding to inquiries regarding other business processes.
As an example of these efforts, we introduce the activities of Shimadzu Precision Technology,Ltd.(SPT), our company affiliate. In the past, skilled workers in production units draw up manufacturing plans based on their past experience. Employees manually input the planned number of units to be produced, which was time-consuming for them.
With support of IoT technology and RPA, SPT introduced an automated manufacturing planning system and reduced data input procedure. These effort enabled SPT to reduce personnel time and improve operational efficiency.