College, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership strengthen ties with Japanese business owners; hosting Japanese manufacturing seminar

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne, in collaboration with CEPEX, the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership will host a Japanese manufacturing seminar, “From ‘Product Out’ to ‘Market In,’ Beyond Just In Time & ‘Kaizen’” on Oct. 9 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Steel Dynamics, Inc. Keith E. Busse Technology Center.

Nearly 300 Japanese-owned businesses operate in Indiana, demonstrating the strength and positive economic impact of the long-standing relationship between Indiana and Japan. Japanese companies have 24 locations in 10 counties in northeast Indiana, employing more than 3,200 Hoosiers locally. Sixty-five thousand Hoosiers are working in Japanese-owned companies across the state according to the Consulate-General of Japan. Students, community, and business leaders who attend the event will learn about Japanese manufacturing of the past and today.

Event speakers include:

  • Consul-General of Japan Naoki Ito
  • Chairman of the Sunrock Institute Yukio Tada
  • President & CEO of Funai Service Corp Yoshihiro Sasaki
  • First Secretary with the Embassy of Japan Katsuto Hisano
  • Dean of The School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Darrel Kesler, PhD

Following welcome remarks by Consul-General Ito, the Japanese manufacturing seminar will feature a keynote presentation by Yukio Tada. Tada’s leadership includes serving as Senior Advisor of Sojitz Research Institute and Advisor of the Americas-Japan Relations Committee at Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives). His primary role is to provide guidance on the importance of seamless connection between product out manufacturing and market in service, as well as analog generation and digital generation.

“The trend of high levels of Japanese investment will continue unchanged, but we are facing new challenges as dramatic advances in information technology are leading to increasingly high-tech manufacturing, and ongoing structural transformation in regional industries. Disruptive innovation and evolution of the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will improve total productivity and quality control, but also affect the future employment climate. With these changes, skills improvement of the next generation of workers and existing manufacturing employees is of the utmost importance for creating new jobs and boosting local economies. It is necessary to utilize vocational training schools, internships and apprenticeships to improve the labor participation rate and secure the next generation of workers,” Tada says.

A presentation by Yoshihiro Sasaki will address the needs for IT systems to support lean processes.

“General service operations, particularly reverse logistics, are labor intensive in nature, so operations in Mexico have strong advantages over operations in the U.S,” Sasaki says.

To turn this situation around, Sasaki redesigned the entire service process, and developed an IT system to change the process to “lean and simple.”

Funai Service Corporation (FSC), based in Groveport, Ohio, now runs low-cost operations similar to other service providers in Mexico. Representatives of Walmart and Amazon visited FSC and noted that FSC is one of the best operations in North America. With continuous improvement mind, Sasaki is now taking initiative to apply AI technology to service operations.

Bob Parker, department chair for Industrial Technology, and Advanced Automation and Robotic Technology Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne, recognizes the need for academics to stay relevant in today’s technology changes.

“Reevaluate what you are teaching today because in 10 years it may be irrelevant to today’s manufacturing,” Parker says.

Near the end of the seminar, a robust panel discussion will highlight the demand for a skilled workforce, the need to advance credential and post-secondary education, and the overall impact of technology on the manufacturing industry.

Register for the seminar at

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