New corporate culture at Daikin embraces change

Daikin, Factories of the Future, verandering, innovatie

On 2 February five new Factories of the Future joined in: Daikin, Nuscience, Rousselot, Valeo and Veranneman Technical Textiles can now carry this prestigious label for three years due to their advanced progress in the seven transformations on the road to the factory of the future. Each one of them demonstrated that they belong to the technological core of the 265 Belgian manufacturing companies which already set off on this path. In the weeks ahead we will present these excellent companies to you one by one. 

The new generation of Factories of the Future are companies which have invested in process digitalisation, smart processes and products and in a ‘world class production’. They are able to handle energy and materials sustainably, but are also innovative in social terms, and use a people-oriented approach. In short, companies which can inspire and therefore deserve our more detailed acquaintance. Daikin Europe is the first one up. The regional headquarters of the Japanese multinational for Europe, the Middle East and Africa started as a centre for assemblage and distribution and became the international headquarters for development, production and sales and is one of the most advanced factories for air conditioning systems, heat pumps and cooling installations in Europe. Within the Daikin family the Ostend-based plant became the global innovation centre for heating product development. Five years ago it launched its Factory Reform Plan, supported by 55 million in investments in production and automation and in digitalisation in three phases: stability, Kaizen and team work. The factory thus became an example of how to do things and is a showroom for the company with 1,860 visitors in 2016. 

Strong involvement of employees 

The Ostend-based Daikin site combines Japan's discipline and speed with a smart way of working. Five years ago there were two robots on the work floor, today there are eight, including four collaborative robots. Only the beginning, because in the next couple of years another ten or twenty cobots will follow. The robots are used for loading and unloading the presses. This automation project increased the productivity of the presses by 30 percent. However, this does not mean that the people were disregarded. To the contrary. The involvement of operators in the continuous improvement aimed for by Daikin has strongly increased in the past years thanks to an excellent balance between productivity and work comfort. Employees are encouraged to take responsibility: optimise their work station, organise attendance, initiatives to improve safety, productivity and quality .... The company responded with lots of attention to ergonomics, an extensive and clear communication and training and coaching (also of soft skills). And the result: Daikin now has a culture where embracing changes is the new normal. 

A heart for green 

In terms of environment Daikin also plays a leading role in the industry. Action was taken to earn industry labels such as ISO, BREEAM and Super Green Heart Factory. An essential factor in this process turned out to be the involvement of employees, who joined the story after following an ‘eco’ training. The result? Daikin recorded a drastic reduction of CO2 by choosing green energy and producing power in-house. Compared to reference year 2005 a global reduction of 75 percent is now the target. In addition, the use of rainwater increased exponentially. In addition, the painting process was adjusted causing the water consumption to go down significantly. This effort reduced water consumption from 14,828 m³ to 11,344 m³ while the productivity continued to rise. Furthermore, a detailed screening of the production process and the products took place to make it all more sustainable. Less energy is now used, less waste is produced and the Recycle with Daikin project was set up. 

Short turnaround times stimulate innovation 

About twenty new products leave the plant in Ostend each year, of which each can be divided into several subcategories. Daikin can do this in a very short period of time because development, production and supporting services are joined under one roof. A smooth launch requires many different actions at different levels, including a ramp-up of the production: procedure, training, lean tools, database, 3D simulation, prototype shop ... The strong structure therefore contains multidisciplinary interaction moments throughout the entire process chain. The company also clearly benefits from the prototype shop. Experienced operators with a past in production are trained to assemble and evaluate prototypes there. This input is indispensable to respond quickly. And this is also applied in the production. The planning is made for one week only to create more flexibility. Daikin was also able to reduce stock levels by 30 percent.