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August 23, 2011

Endoscope Manufacturing Company Aizu Olympus Wins
JMA Good Factory Award

Olympus Corporation is pleased to announce that Aizu Olympus Co., Ltd. (Aizu Olympus) has won the Good Factory Award presented by the Japan Management Association (JMA). Aizu Olympus, the Medical Business Group of Olympus, is primarily involved in the manufacture of medical endoscopes.

Introduced in 2011, these prestigious awards will be presented each year to factories that are regarded as having set an example of excellence for manufacturing in Japan. The judges will examine various examples of organizational innovation initiatives at factories in Japan and throughout Asia, including productivity and quality improvements. The wide-ranging selection criteria include processes, success factors, workplace know-how, improvements in workers' awareness, and social contribution.

There are four Good Factory Award categories. The award won by Olympus is the Monodzukuri Process Innovation Award, which is presented to a factory that has comprehensively enhanced and strengthened manufacturing processes in its factories and business sites through initiatives in such areas as industrial engineering (IE)*1 improvement, information technology (IT), quality assurance, process improvement, supply chain management (SCM)*2 improvement, just-in-time (JIT)*3 production, procurement innovation, logistics innovation and automation.

Aizu Olympus was established in 1970 as an affiliated company of Olympus Corporation. Since its establishment, its principal activity has been the manufacture of medical endoscopes. The three pillars of its manufacturing operations are the high-precision machining technology used in the processing of parts, the advanced technical skills used in microscopic assembly work, and the information systems used to support these activities. This state-of-the-art manufacturing facility has enabled Olympus to maintain the largest share of the world market for medical endoscopes.

Aizu Olympus created the Aizu Innovation System (AIS), a unique program of activities based on the identification of three core manufacturing concepts: one-piece-flow production, one-person production and integration production. Under this system it has worked to improve quality, reduce costs and ensure on-time deliveries by cutting lead times and inventories.

In the area of human resource development, Aizu Olympus has used various methods to motivate employees, including a promotion-linked points system under which employees can obtain qualifications, and an advanced skill training system. Aizu Olympus has also achieved significant benefits through company-wide organizational revitalization initiatives designed to maximize the strategic potential of its many female employees, such as the Ladies' Improvement Working Group [Kaizen Working Group for Women] program.

*1 Industrial engineering (IE) is a general field of engineering encompassing the design, implementation, administration and improvement of systems to ensure the effective utilization of production resources, including human resources, facilities and information.
*2 Supply chain management (SCM) is a management method targeted toward the improvement of management efficiency through the integrated management of flows of goods from the procurement of materials through to later stages, including production, distribution and retailing.
*3 Just in time (JIT) production involves the production of the products needed by customers, in the quantities required, and at the times required.
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