Simply manufacturing YKK AP products is not enough to get them to the customer. It is only when they are installed in houses or buildings that they begin to function. Even for the same product, the way it is installed has a large impact on quality. As society ages and the number of veteran skilled workers continues to fall, we continue to work on maintaining quality.
FE (Field Engineers)
We operate our own qualifications system and continually refine our technology capabilities
Our 38 field engineers belong to the Field Technical Center (FTC), Fabrication Technology in Manufacturing, and are dispatched to 13 locations around the country. When a fault occurs in an area, the field engineers are sent to the site to investigate the cause and develop a response. They are the engineers who contribute on the front lines of the business. As well, they provide technical instruction seminars for builders and architectural product distributors, undertake fault prevention education, and engage in awareness-raising activities. As engineers, they need established targets in order to refine their technology capabilities, but there are no national, public, or private qualifications for the field engineer role. So, in order to provide consistent quality and services to our customers, the
education working group of the FE Operations Improvement Review Committee, which began in FY 2016, established an internal qualifications system. Initiatives for qualifications system began in FY 2017, and the basic concept and details of the system were refined and improved. The system was launched in FY 2018, and since then eight engineers have qualified for First Level, and six for Third Level.
Making installation more efficient
Joint research with U.S. university on new installation methods using robots and IT
The installation methods for standard commercial building sashes and knock-down curtain wall installation have barely changed in over four decades. With concern growing over construction site labor shortages, productivity improvements are becoming an urgent issue. Demand is also growing for shorter construction periods in Japan and overseas. In response, in May 2019 we signed an agreement with Carnegie Mellon University of the U.S. to undertake joint research of technologies for installing windows, doors, curtain walls and other fixtures into buildings. The goal of the joint research is to develop new installation technology for windows and doors using cutting-edge robot and information technologies on the worksite, and thereby boost installation productivity and quality. To that end, we are investigating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), researching new methods to secure fixtures to buildings, and bringing out innovations in windows and doors installation technology. The five-year research project will continue until April 2024 and research new labor-saving installation systems that are speedy, accurate, safe, and low cost.
Our company researchers and the fenestration team undertake technology R&D for windows, doors, and frames
Installation Skills Training Academy
We tackle human resource development and skills transfer issues faced by the construction industry
In 2013, we established the YKK AP Group Installation Skills Training Academy jointly with the YKK AP Group Installation Cooperative, which is made up of partners from across the country, including sash and curtain wall constructors. It is said that it normally takes a full ten years to acquire the skills for sash and curtain wall installation. Our Training Academy trains technicians in as little as six years, with trainees divided into standard, intermediate, and advanced levels, with training in each level in two years. By FY 2020, the Academy had accepted 311 trainees. Going forward, we will cooperate with the Installation Cooperative to focus on human resource development and skills transfer issues faced by the construction industry as a whole.
Note: The FY 2020 Installation Skills Training Academy program has been cancelled.
Installation guidance for overseas fabricators
Teaching Japanese monozukuri technology for consistent worldwide quality
As we deploy our businesses around the world, we must maintain the same level of Japanese installation quality in each overseas country. To this end, we dispatch our employees and Installation Cooperative members to overseas locations to provide installation guidance and training. In Taiwan, where we have a high share in luxury condominiums market, in 2017 we established an Installation Skills Academy for members of the Installation Cooperative that is made up of local installation business partners. Combining classroom and practical instruction, the initiative is aimed at teaching Japanese monozukuri and raising the base level of local technicians. One point of the training is follow-up sessions which check to see if safety awareness, consideration, and quality accuracy are within proper ranges (specified values), and whether installation techniques show improvement (whether the theory has been understood and implemented). In China we aim to strengthen system sales, which is a characteristic of our China business and includes domestic product development, integrated production of profiles and components, and processing/installation guidance. To do this, we have established two installation training centers in Shenzhen and Suzhou in order to develop human resources for window processing and installation. In Indonesia, too, we undertake installation training in order to improve the technical skills of local installation workers.
Teaching wooded wedge installation methods onsite in Taiwan