Factory Tour at YKK

Activity report

YKK_Kurobe1.JPGOn April 13, 2017, 11 students (10 new students and 1 student in her second year) visited YKK Corporation in Kurobe, Toyama. The students learned the company's 3 groups: fastening products, architectural products, and machinery and engineering which supports aforementioned two groups ; had a tour at the Kurobe Ogyu Plant and YKK AP's Value Verification Center. They were even given an opportunity to meet alumni of Shinshu University (Faculty of Textile Science and Technology and Faculty of Engineering).

[Participation report by James Hirose, 1st-year student]
1. Purpose of participation
Participating to this visit was on the purpose to learn what is behind a name like YKK. As the first thought of YKK is the zippers for bags or clothes, the visit has the purpose to teach that this global-scale company is more than that. It also provides the chance to see how top-grade products are made around the world and gives us students an opportunity for students to meet and discuss with the employees who graduated from our University.

2. Problems identified as a result of participation
Even before entering the leading program, I have been forced to expand my horizons due to many tasks involving multi-cultural communities. Although I am from a mixed culture family, I identify myself as Japanese, which is a nation that I come to think is relatively strong on its cultural roots and somewhat conservative. Meaning I have some difficulties encountering and interacting with ideas and mindsets I have never came across in my life.
During the discussion with the employees, I was especially interested in the ideology regarding global business. One of the workers who experienced multiple oversea dispatch, explained that each culture has its own characteristics, and personalities. You need to learn what they are to work with them, especially so when being a leader. This advice made me think about the workshop I will be involved in during the conference Shinshu University will hold in July.
My task will be to find and learn ways to discuss, or in cases, argue with different type of people. How to make the best out of each conversation and to control my own emotions when things heat up.

3. Results of participation
YKK is an interesting company that brought solution for many questions in fixation. They are innovative and could bring a lot of companies to only count on them for their own products. Being able to visit this world-class company was an amazing opportunity. I have been able to meet the employees and learn about the history and the expertise in their products. I could learn that they are more than just zippers, but also active in other fields like agriculture and building industry, from the pre-production to how it is created and tested heavily to cover all situations that can be sold as a grade-A product. Which leads to the next project that tries to improve the issue and problem that the clients request. This shows not only how great merchandising is made, but also shows a fantastic way of how a great cycle of research can be made.

4. How will you apply what you learned to your research?
The company has an interesting work process where they show a great adaptability depending on which country they work in. For example, in the United States, YKK provides shockwave and hazard-proof windows for hurricane, however at the other side of the globe in China, the windows products are more focused on weather resistance and adaptation. This teaches that it is essential to be able to learn your clients along with their country's culture. Adapting yourself depending on the situation and to be able to answer to all kind of demands. My research heavily relies on different human perspectives. I work on the visual development of robotic prosthesis by controlling the kinematics. However, when I develop a robot hand, people with different cultural background might bring a completely alternate view point. This idea becomes more important when my research is being conducted abroad during my third and fourth year into the leading program. To be able to adapt and be flexible on different lands for my work.
Also, as mention in the "Results of participating", of how having a cycle from start to finish, and to start again generates better results to the process. I now believe that no work is over, but a conclusion to a chapter and preparation to the upcoming projects.


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