“Shokunin” Mindset

Message from Mr. Russell Ellwanger—TowerJazz CEO & TPSCo Chairman

Japanese cutlery is the best in the world. It is simple in style with an amazing steel blade unrivaled elsewhere. When buying a signature Japanese knife, final sharpening is always performed by hand, after purchase—in the shop in full view of the customer by a master with his apprentice at his side.

Japanese sharpening stones come from recognized quarries. Exclusive quarries yield the highest quality stones with each stone receiving the personal “hanko” of the quarry owner certifying not only the quarry, but that the stone is the highest quality that the quarry can produce. Additional stones accompany the sharpening stone. These stones produce the various slurries required during the sharpening stages. They also come with “hankos” certifying their origin and quality.

I was reading a book on tool care, written by a Japanese Master, a “Shokunin.” He explained the ways of the Shokunin. It is not simply about the quality of the product. Production must be performed with efficiency, a required cycle time so to speak, with no scrap. Were a Shokunin to throw away a piece due to dissatisfaction with his or her work, they would no longer be a Shokunin. A Shokunin must CREATE a quality product efficiently! Scrap (DESTRUCTION) is simply not done.

At New Year’s, a Shokunin will put the tools of their craft in a special place in their home or shop and set rice cakes before them as an expression of thanks for enabling their craft. A Shokunin respects both the work being created and the tools used to create the work. Tools align with the skill of the craftsman. For example only the highest-level chef will use the highest-level blade. To not be a master and use a master’s tool would disrespect the tool.

The “Shokunin” mind set permeates all levels of Japanese society and is the basis for why quality in Japanese factories is always of such a high level. Respect and responsibility for one’s work place and tools is taught from the youngest age.

My family experienced this when we had the privilege to live in Japan. Our youngest daughter attended a Buddhist run kindergarten. One part of the school uniform was an Oshibori (a wash cloth) in a plastic container. Every day began with each student wiping down his or her desk with the Oshibori, and every day ended with the same. The work place was the students responsibility to keep clean and hence to respect.

We are greatly blessed to have TowerJazz Panasonic within our corporate family. We, as an entity, have gained and continue to benefit as we learn, understand and implement more of the Japanese relationship to the workplace and of their commitment to a quality standard intrinsically tied to efficiency.

We have added additional focus to our corporate quality measures. The Quality Group, itself, is under new leadership. Mr. Ilan Rabinovich, a skilled and vastly experienced technologist has transferred from Business Group General Manager to Corporate Quality Vice President reporting to me. He is in the process of appointing new quality directors at each site—all proficient, proactive technologists with diversified, in depth fab experience. Our quality focus is aligned with the slogan, “Safety protects lives. Quality protects jobs.”

We work diligently to achieve the highest quality performance through cohesive, concerted efforts of efficiency and align our tools, skillsets and craft to the highest level of production.
We welcome your input and cowork. Thank you!

Russell Ellwanger
CEO, TowerJazz
Chairman, TPSCo

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