The Murata Productivity Journey

One of the first images that come to mind when one talks about Murata is their cute dancing robots and the bicycle riding robot - Murata Boy and unicycle riding Murata Girl. Apart from the amazing feats their adorable robots can perform, what you might not know is that Murata products are all around you. In fact, a piece of Murata engineering may currently be with you in your pocket (Mobile phone), home (Audio Visuals), on the road (Car Navigation), on your vacation (Cameras and Camcorders) and your workstation (PCs and Laptops). One even lesser known fact about the giant electronics manufacturer is the productivity journey they have gone through. 

The Lehman shock caused Murata to rethink their process and the management of their human resources. They had to readjust to new reality:having a small, yet powerful workforce - small but powerful. Mr. Vijay, then IT Manager at Murata Singapore, was put in charge to implement long term productivity measures in the Logistics department, that would put Murata in a stronger position than ever before to face the challenges of tomorrow. 

Based on the 3 aspects of productivity - Man, Machine and Process, Vijay and his team took the following steps, working with partners to ensure that the objectives of a productive, cost efficient, progressive and most importantly, happy workplace, would be achieved. 

The steps included: 

1.Studying the time taken by every process
2.Finding the exact cause behind each bottleneck
3.Creating a new layout (Inspired by Supermarket check-out counters)
4.Introducing new, customized workstations that suit each employee
5.Introducing multiple rack types that fit each component to maximize office space 
6.Creating new process flows
7.Introducing new IT and other Equipment  
8.Introducing a new Warehouse Management System
9.Re-training Manpower with new process flow and Equipment

While these initiatives are by no means rocket science, the outcome is nothing to sneeze at. The benefits include:
1.) The reduction of warehouse space by 1 floor, which is almost 50% of the total warehouse space
2.) The reduction of manpower requirements by 2.5, which is 50% of the document handling staff previously required
3.) The reduction of printing costs by 20%

In particular, Murata worked with Fuji Xerox Singapore to streamline their shipping document processes, ultimately achieving the following:
1.) Cutting costs
2.) Improving customer satisfaction
3.) Improving staff morale

While the reduced costs from efficiencies gained and improved customer satisfaction from faster, more accurate deliveries were great achievements, the improvement of staff morale was something that was particularly meaningful to Vijay. By making the employees' jobs easier, making them feel valued by incorporating their suggestions into process improvements and even making them feel comfortable so they can better cope with their shift work, Vijay and his team have succeeded in creating a happy workplace. All this would not have been done without careful analysis, planning and execution of countermeasures to make improvements, but also doing so with the right partners.  

Today, Vijay is the Assistant General Manager, ASEAN Sales RHQ, Strategic Logistics & Risk Management. In his words, "Fuji Xerox is not just a partner but a trusted friend to Murata." 

Find out more by reading their story here

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