Before joining Olympus, I was involved in logistics operations at a trading firm for about two years. When I became ready for a broader challenge, I focused my search on companies with a manufacturing arm, because I thought that the logistics organization of a manufacturing company would be responsible for a more diverse range of duties and I could gain a wider range of experience by joining one, and ended up choosing Olympus. While in school, I developed an interest in camera design and how SLR film cameras produce images, and so Olympus was a familiar name to me, which may have influenced my decision to join the company.
Leader responsible for managing the flows of medical, scientific and imaging products to customers from Olympus’ distribution site
"Logistics ensures the safe and reliable delivery of Olympus products that contribute to a better society to places all around the world."
Q: What made you decide to join Olympus?
I wanted to get involved in a broader range of logistics operations at a manufacturing company.
Q: What do you do at Olympus? What do you find rewarding about your job?
I feel great satisfaction when I manage to turn difficult challenges into triumphs.
Currently I serve as a team leader responsible for onsite operations and management of a logistics location from which Olympus’ medical, scientific and imaging products head out to locations in Japan and abroad. My team ensures the smooth movement of Olympus’ medical, scientific and imaging products from production facilities to our location, and then from our location to clients and customers. Our location receives, warehouses and ships out a massive number of products every day, and about 150 staff dispatched by our contractors* pack and ship products in the warehouse on our premises. My primary responsibility is to ensure that products are shipped without a hitch, which I achieve by preparing shipping instructions so that everyone can pick and pack the right products for shipment.
* Contractors are companies that perform packaging and shipping work at the request of Olympus at the company’s warehouses.
I face lots of challenges at work. First, when an issue arises, the sheer volume of the products we handle makes it extremely difficult for us to identify why and how things went wrong, but we must nonetheless uncover the cause of the problem and learn from it in order to make future improvements. Another critical area of my work is communication with our contractors, to whom we outsource certain operations. In-depth communication with our contractors helps them understand Olympus’ way of thinking, and making sure they understand our methods is very important. In addition, when quality nonconformity is discovered in a product, I must make sure to stop the product from being shipped from our warehouse. In these situations, we must stop the shipment, return the defective product to the production site, request a replacement product to be shipped to us, and then ship it out to the customer, and we must complete this entire process as quickly as possible so that our customer is not inconvenienced by any delays. I feel great satisfaction as a team leader when my team encounters a problem and successfully devises a solution.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
9:00-9:10: Morning meeting with my team to review the day’s schedule
9:30-11:00: Conference to discuss any cases of short- and over-shipments, and ways to prevent future incidents
11:00-12:00: Meeting to discuss an ongoing project relating to next-generation warehouses
12:45-14:00: Logistics management work
14:00-15:00: Meeting with business partners to which logistics work is contracted out to discuss complaints and ways to improve/reduce issues
15:00-16:00: Meeting with other team leaders to discuss cross-team tasks
16:00-18:00: Logistics management work
18:00: Leave for the day
* On late shift days, I go home around 7:30pm. The logistics center is typically in operation from 7:00 am (for incoming shipments) to 8:00 pm (for outgoing shipments), but regularly scheduled trucks that make rounds throughout Japan for pick-ups and drop-offs at the Olympus locations may arrive as late as 11:00 pm, and the center is staffed by people dispatched by our contractors to cover late hours.
Q: What was your area of focus in school and what skills do you think are needed to perform logistics work?
A certain way of thinking is vital.
As a student I wanted to be an industrial designer, so I didn’t take any courses directly related to logistics. One thing I learned in the course of my study is the theory that behind every design and form are a reason and a concept that led to that design and form. This way of thinking is essential to any work you perform and is very important to keep in mind. Also important is knowledge about the products you handle – including their purposes and characteristics. For instance, clients’ needs, the conditions in which our sales people handle products, and the type of packaging that suits product characteristics can vary, so we try to optimize our logistics based on such knowledge.
Q: What is your opinion about corporate contributions to society?
First off, Olympus products in and of themselves play a significant role in making the world a better place to live. We at the logistics department ensure that such products will be brought to the world without a hitch, and we take great pride in doing so. In particular, delivery of medical products involves a lot of responsibility every day, because we often have to accommodate the special needs of hospitals for prompt delivery, including time-critical deliveries to meet emergency requirements.
In addition, logistics has major social consequences, and we take a variety of measures to lower our environmental load. One such example is our commitment to reducing the quantity of cardboard cartons and paper-made cushioning materials used for transportation. We now use small folding containers at select locations for pickups. Folding containers may be assembled easily when in use and collapsed when empty, and they are reusable and returnable.
When we introduced the returnable folding containers on a full-fledged basis, we were able to eliminate about 900 kilograms worth of cardboard cartons in the first year alone. To reduce CO2 emissions, we periodically reschedule and reroute truck movements to eliminate unnecessary journeys. We are also trying to switch from air freight, which is notorious for having a negative environmental impact, to more environmentally sound ocean freight.
As members of the local community, Olympus employees and their families take an active part in civic clean-up activities along the Sagami River, which runs near the warehouse. On one such occasion, a young girl approached me and said, “You are much bigger than me, so you should pick up more trash than I do.” I found this hard-working girl cutely amusing.