NKK Switches Corporation

NKK Switches is an electronic component manufacturer that develops and manufactures switches and peripheral devices for industrial equipment. Specific areas of demand include information and telecommunications equipment, space satellite equipment, factory automation equipment, aviation, railroads, ships, medical care, disaster prevention, measurement, semiconductor-related equipment, and entertainment.

Sales are not limited to the domestic market, but are expanding globally to the United States, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and other regions.

(From left to right) Mr. Ken Ishii, Development Promotion Division; Mr. Takashi Furumura, Business Planning Division; Mr. Naoshi Maruyama, both in the same division

Q. What kind of business do you use Questetra for?

It is used for drawing change requests and product discontinuation management.

There are many cases in which design drawings must be changed in the manufacturing of electronic components. For example, when materials have to be changed or user requests have to be accommodated. However, changes to drawings require confirmation and approval from many departments. In other words, it requires confirmation and approval from many departments, such as production, quality, assembly, and materials. In many cases, revisions or additions are also required. The workflow app “Drawing Change Request” assigns a confirmation task to every person in charge. After confirmation and approval, development performs a final check and changes the drawing.

Product Discontinuation Management manages obsolete products that have been decided to be discontinued. After two years, the process is restarted and final confirmation of discontinuation is made.

Q. What challenges did you face before introducing the system?

Because of paper and verbal communication, it took time to respond to requests and progress could not be monitored.

In particular, Product Discontinuation Management had challenges in visualizing the progress status. Even if a decision is made to discontinue a product, the manufacturer is responsible for supplying the product and cannot immediately stop selling it. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate procurement and manage inventory of parts necessary for product production for several years until sales are discontinued. The challenge was that there were so many departments and personnel involved that it was difficult to know who was holding the ball for each job.

Q. How did you resolve the issue?

All processes have been incorporated into the workflow app, which has completely automated the passing of tasks between the people in charge of the work. Even though the work process involves a large number of departments and personnel, it is now handled according to a predefined workflow.

Task hand-offs are now automated, which speeds up responses to requests. In addition, Product Discontinuation Management has made it possible to grasp who is handling the workload, preventing work stoppages and facilitating smooth progress in the business.

In addition, a timer process was used to automatically restart the process after two years. This created a mechanism to ensure that tasks several years in the future, which might have been missed if performed manually, could be handled reliably.

Q. What would you like to work on in the future?

We would like to expand the scope of operations using Questetra to the entire company. For example, a request for consideration of a custom-made product. In the custom order request process, the sales department receives a consultation from a customer about a custom order and asks the development department whether or not it can be produced and at what price. In addition, we would like to expand the scope of this business to include application work, such as requests for decision-making.

In terms of functionality, we would like to take on the challenge of integrating business flows. Currently, each business flow is used independently. However, in reality, once one business flow is completed, another business flow is often started. We would like to automate the linkage between such flows.

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