Company-wide efforts have been made to promote Mazda's Monotsukuri Innovation, with the aim of developing vehicles equipped with innovative base technologies that marvel automobile manufacturers around the world. Monotsukuri Innovation is an approach to reviewing the vehicle-manufacturing process from scratch. Originating in Japan, Monotsukuri Innovation has begun to be expanded to overseas production sites, so that now automobile manufacturing that enhances the brand value is being deployed on a global basis.
Monotsukuri Innovation Started in Conjunction with "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom"
In 2007, Mazda announced its long-term vision for technology development, "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom." To provide all customers with driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance, Mazda embarked on a challenge to "develop and market vehicles equipped with innovative base technologies that set a global benchmark." Mazda's annual production capacity is approximately 1.2 million vehicles. Given its size, Mazda cannot remain competitive if the Company acts in the same way as a top manufacturer that produces and sells more than 10 million units.
To develop products that exceed customers' expectations and to achieve economies of scale equal to or higher than those of a top manufacturer, Mazda realized that it must drastically reform vehicle structures, rather than just making "improvements" at a conventional level. At the same time, the Company was determined to innovate the way in which vehicles are manufactured. Based on this strong determination, all related divisions worked together to launch Mazda's Monotsukuri Innovation.
Pursuing the Ideal Structure and Processes through Company-Wide Promotion of Mazda Unique Integrated Planning
Conventionally, there has been a trade-off between diversity that enhances product competitiveness and commonality that improves manufacturing economy of scale. The objective of Monotsukuri Innovation is to realize both these conflicting features at a high level. Deliberations were held to determine what the Company needed to do to achieve the economy of scale as if manufacturing a single vehicle model, while developing and producing a variety of different products. A breakthrough came when Mazda focused its attention on "integrated planning," the "common architecture", and the "flexible production" concept.
Integrated planning involves close collaboration between the product development, manufacturing, and purchasing divisions-as well as suppliers. They are brought together to hold discussions about forward-looking products and technologies, standing on an equal footing and sharing the same sense of values, so as to design specific action plans. This approach started with the Company-wide efforts to plan for all models, looking at five to ten years in the future.
Yasuhiro Kan, General Manager of Body Production Engineering Department, Production Engineering Division, says, "Before integrated planning was introduced, each model had been developed individually, and consensus had been reached after debates between product development and manufacturing divisions that had asserted their respective perspectives and ideas. However, under the integrated planning approach, all those concerned met together to hold discussions as to what products and technologies Mazda should really be aiming to develop from a forward-looking perspective. They then defined the shape and structures that were common to these future models as the 'fixed area,' and the elements that should be changed and modified according to the product lines and models as the 'variable area.'"
Furthermore, the integrated planning approach was taken to develop each model. As for the fixed area, by adopting the common architecture concept that improves volume efficiency, Mazda achieved the economy of scale close to that possible when manufacturing a single model. As for the variable area, the Company employed the flexible production concept that enabled product variations, through technological innovations in the product design and structure, as well as in the production processes.
What Has Changed through Monotsukuri Innovation?
"The common architecture concept is not just intended to be a means of standardization. It is a concept that epitomizes the ideal structure that is considered universally optimal, regardless of the time or model," says Kan. He adds "Integrated planning, the common architecture concept, and the flexible production concept play important roles, not only in achieving the economy of mass production, but also in improving product strength, in reducing lead times, and even in resource savings."
For example, regarding vehicle designs, which are a vital part of product strength, the Company made efforts to faithfully reproduce the design in vehicles to be mass-produced. Previously, after the product development division had decided a vehicle design, the manufacturing division started to create dies to form the parts. This method, however, sometimes failed to perfectly reproduce the envisaged design that had been elaborated by the product development division, due to technological constraints. To resolve this problem, Mazda introduced integrated planning, which enables the product development and manufacturing divisions to act in unison. Both parties were brought together to mutually understand what each other was attempting to achieve, in a more accurate manner and at an earlier stage. Before the design was finalized, form simulations were performed, so that the manufacturing division could submit proposals regarding the structure to better reproduce the design. Such inter-divisional collaboration to faithfully reproduce the envisaged design has enabled mass-production models to realize a level of "sharpness" comparable to the concept car. Through these efforts, the Mazda6 and the new Mazda3 were selected as among the top three finalists for the World Car Design of the Year award for two consecutive years. This feat is the first of its kind for a Japanese vehicle manufacturer.
Best practice: Faithful reproduction of the envisaged design
Seeking optimal plate materials and thickness
*1 Percentage of volume of products actually produced, to production volume expected from the amount of material used.
Further Evolving Monotsukuri Innovation into Production that Enhances the Brand Value "100-1=0"
It is almost eight years since Mazda commenced efforts towards Monotsukuri Innovation. Now the Company is striving to further evolve Monotsukuri Innovation into production that enhances the brand value.
The brand value that Mazda should deliver from a viewpoint of manufacturing is represented by the expression, "100-1=0." By "100-1=0" Mazda means that it will be meaningless if even only one out of 100 vehicles is found to be defective, because for an individual customer, his/her vehicle is not "one out of 100 vehicles" but the only one. This expression summarizes Mazda's strong desire to provide 100% quality for one vehicle for every individual customer.
Kan talks about his aspirations, saying, "We are pursuing a kind of vehicles production that respects each vehicle as a certain customer's "one-and-only" Mazda. We first aim to achieve the "zero defect" target, and then realize the value that exceeds customers' expectations, such as the value comprising the KODO design, Jinba-Ittai driving experience*2, and fuel economy. These elements embody driving pleasure, which is the hallmark of the Mazda brand." Under the motto, "We will never produce a boring vehicle," Mazda is evolving its Monotsukuri Innovation.
*2 Mazda's-unique driving philosophy, literally, "rider and horse, are one." Mazda aims to create oneness between the car and the driver, just as a horse and rider communicate through feeling, thereby realizing the very best driving experience.
Toward Realization of Optimal Manufacturing Suited to Global Production Footprint
To deliver Mazda brand value to all customers around the world, it is essential to apply Monotsukuri Innovation to global production sites. At present, Mazda has its major production facilities in five locations: Hiroshima and Hofu in Japan, Thailand, China, and now in Mexico, where manufacturing operations started in January 2014.
"Monotsukuri Innovation was born in Hiroshima, where we have accumulated technologies over many years. How we should now promote the global application of Monotsukuri Innovation-this is a major challenge for Mazda," says Kan. Mazda aims to raise its overseas production ratio to 50% in the future, and Kan stresses the importance of the global development of Mazda's Monotsukuri Innovation. "It is essential to entrench Monotsukuri Innovation in overseas regions in a true sense, rather than just transfer technologies and expertise to these regions. To this end, we should have local employees and suppliers with whom Mazda has deals for the first time understand and empathize with what Mazda aims to achieve."
Mazda's vision is "Manufacturing for Customer Value." All production sites of the Mazda Group will work as one team to provide each and every customer around the world with 100% quality and value that exceeds their expectations.
Establishment of a New Plant in Mexico
Serving As a Global Production Site that Has Adopted Monotsukuri Innovation
Mazda constructed a new plant in Mexico, as a joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation. The plant, named Mazda de Mexico Vehicle Operation*3 (MMVO), is located in Salamanca, in the state of Guanajuato. In January 2014, MMVO started production of the new Mazda3. MMVO plays an important role as a strategic site for supplying products to the markets of North, Central, and South America, as well as Europe.
*3 Trade name of Mazda Motor Manufacturing de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. and Mazda Motor Operaciones de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. collectively.
- ■ Contribute to the growth of the automotive industry and the Mexican economy, as well as regional revitalization, as a good corporate citizen.
- ■ Realize the fruits of our Structural Reform Plan and begin a new chapter in the history of Mazda.
- ■ Contribute to the preservation of environment by making our SKYACTIV models available to more people around the world.
Contributing to the Growth of Mexican Economy and Regional Revitalization by Fostering Human Resources Who Lead the Automotive Industry in Mexico
Based on the concepts behind Mazda's Monotsukuri Innovation, MMVO has worked hard to create a system capable of delivering vehicles of the same high quality as those made in Japan, on a global scale. By July 2014, the company had dispatched 180 engineers and supervisors to Mazda's plants in Hiroshima and Hofu as part of their training. As a result, I believe that MMVO has now established a manufacturing system that will lead to the overall enhancement of Mazda's brand value.
MMVO attaches importance to contributing to the regional economy and automotive industry, to contributing to environmental protection, and to communicating with residents of local communities. As part of our efforts to contribute to the regional economy and automotive industry, we have established a supplier park within the plant premises. We have also created more than 6,000 jobs at MMVO and the supplier park,*4 in cooperation with suppliers who have set up their facilities there. Moreover, we are working on environmental conservation through protection of precious tree species (the mesquite, etc.) as well as soil management. We are also active in exchanges with local residents, by creating a multi-purpose site and a mini museum within the company premises.
Through the various activities mentioned above, MMVO will strive to convey the history and spirit of Mazda's manufacturing heritage, thereby functioning as the center for communicating our brand essence to people here in Mexico.
Going forward, we will remain committed to developing excellent human resources who support and lead the automotive industry in Mexico, as well as contributing to the growth of Mexican economy through manufacturing, so as to serve as a production site that can grow together with the people of the local community.
Executive Vice President (Operation), MMVO
*4 Cluster of suppliers' production facilities.