Kito-Group company and leading US chain manufacture…
Business trips abroad in 2021
The Kito Group operates around the world and its employees routinely take business trips abroad. The pandemic has restricted international travel since early last year, and remote communications have become standard practice instead. That said, some work can only be done in person. Hiroki Ogura of the Manufacturing Technology Group, an engineer in his third year with us, courageously took his first business trip abroad, to Thailand, one of the Kito Japan team to support the startup of local production.
March 26: I arrive in Thailand, to be followed by quarantine in a hotel. On my fifth day there, I was negative on the PCR test and allowed to sunbathe at the hotel pool for 45 minutes a day. Otherwise I was locked in my hotel room. Two weeks of quarantine life was trying for me, as I am not an indoor type and had never done remote work.
April 12: I’m finally allowed to go to the plant! My mission was to start up an assembly line and conduct testing to build the production system. I was often puzzled by their production methods, which were different from those in Japan in many ways. It was difficult to teach procedures and expertise to local staff, many of whom had never seen Kito products before. The job was new and challenging, but I was able to complete my mission to help them produce prototypes for the models to be mass-produced locally.
Local staff call me ‘Sakura’ because my surname, Ogura, is easily mispronounced, and the nickname quickly stuck (laughs). Thai people are very kind and smile when I talk to them, making me realize I am in the “nation of smiles.” My biggest worry, the language barrier, was cleared using simple English, a translation app, and lots of body language.
In Thailand the average temperature is above 35 degrees centigrade in the daytime, and the ultraviolet rays are strong. Mask-wearing was a mandate as well. This was difficult for me because I hate the heat and sweat profusely. I regret that I was unable to go sightseeing and shopping on holidays. Because of that, however, I was able to put 100% into my job for the two months I spent there. Helping a foreign firm start up a production line was a rare and precious experience for me. I hope to apply this experience now that I’m back in Japan.