Feature in FY2010:
Social values of the TASKalfa series miltifunction products
What should Kyocera Mita's multifunction products be like?
The answer to this question, which we reached after repeated discussions is: "We should make products that are as useful as possible to customers," which is the original goal of MONOZUKURI. Every Kyocera Mita employee is constantly pursuing "what the customer wants most" and "quality that warrants customer satisfaction."
- MONOZUKURI that focuses on usefulness to the customer.
- Useful functions realized through customer feedback.
- Top quality, not average, is the goal of the manufacturing departments.
What does the new brand TASKalfa stand for?
Kyocera Mita's multifunctional products are equipped with numerous functions necessary for office document production and management. Such functions are recognized by the customer only if the customer finds them useful.
TASKalfa stands for MFPs that are the most ("alpha") useful for improving the efficiency of all "tasks" related to office documents. The sound of the brand name "TASKalfa" is suggestive of "Tasukaruwa," a Japanese term meaning helpful (mostly used by women or in the Osaka dialect,) evoking the image of a user-conscious MFP.
TASKalfa does not stand only for the products themselves. It is also a motto embraced by Kyocera Mita employees who are committed to improving the quality of everything Kyocera Mita provides to customers, including their sales methods and maintenance services.
Direction of the new brand and new manufacturing, determined after discussions among employees
To develop a new brand of multifunctional products, members selected from all relevant sections including the research & development, quality control, and sales departments had repeated discussions on the form of the multifunctional product Kyocera Mita should produce.
The conclusion reached in the discussions was to "make a multifunctional product that is much more useful to customers," which was set as the basic direction of the new brand development. Although this seems to be a simple and commonsense attitude for a manufacturer to adopt, to pursue this direction requires cumulative efforts by all company members to make improvements and implement new attempts. The birth of the new brand provided the company members with a good opportunity to start an activity to review their work from the customer-oriented viewpoint.
To promote sharing of the brand concept, the Brand Start Book was issued and distributed throughout the Company. Though our activities have just started, various new attempts have been emerging in various departments.
Sense of accomplishment obtained from overcoming unprecedented problems
Members of the TASKalfa development project team talked about the hardships and joy they had faced in their involvement in the area of unprecedented product development.
Participants / Engineering Div.: Chisato Hatakeyama, Naoki Yamane, Kazuhisa Edahiro, Koji Minamino, Tsukasa Sugiyama Business Strategy Division: Yuki Shibahara, Takayoshi Furukawa, Takuya Akiyama
- TASKalfa was positioned as a "bet-the-company" brand. Placing the highest emphasis on customers' opinions, we had a lot of trial and error, trying to respond to the trends in the network and on the Internet.
- Since it involved the development of an entirely new lineup, we tried to introduce new functions and new technologies. Because expectations from both inside and outside of the Company were high, we aimed to develop a device that would not cause any trouble and would satisfy customers.
- Our past models sometimes required users to adapt themselves to machine functions. But this time we took a 180-degree turn in concept and placed the highest priority on usability and operational efficiency for customers, so as to ensure that the new device deserved the name of TASKalfa.
- I worked to respond to the requests of customers for improved operability of panels.
- A black-and-silver-based design was adopted as appropriate for the new brand. We conducted a survey in the US to check whether this design could be accepted by customers all over the world. The survey results were favorable, which made us confident in proceeding with the development.
- I had a hard time thinking about total optimization. It took me a lot of time as this was something I had never experienced.
- We tried to reduce power consumption by lowering the melting point of the toner. But we had to solve the various problems associated with the lower melting point. Also, as image quality was improved, problems that had not been noticed before became visible. We had to solve each of these problems, which was a hard task.
- For the colored wide touch panel, we chose India for the first time as our offshore development* site. It was my first experience to communicate with Indian people, and it was sometimes difficult to convey our intentions to them. On the technical front, it was also difficult to enable the panel to directly sense the user's touch.
- We gathered requests of our customers from all over the world, which varied greatly depending on the business methods of each country and the business scale of each company. It was therefore difficult to select requests that would be reflected in the specifications of the new machine. Moreover, because there were many people who wanted to keep their traditional business habits, we had a hard time trying to get them to change such habits by introducing this machine.
* Offshore development: To outsource system development or operation to an overseas enterprise or subsidiary
Points that brought a sense of accomplishment
- I feel fulfilled that our technology level has been improved through the development of new functions. I am also pleased to know that the TASKalfa series has been favorably accepted by dealers and vendors.
- All members were aware of the importance of this bet-the-company product and actively cooperated with the relevant departments. This facilitated smooth communication, creating an environment that allowed us to proceed smoothly with the project.
- All of the functions we had initially wanted to introduce were actually incorporated into the series. Our attempt to improve image quality, which arose during the process, has led to an increase in the number of customers who used color MFPs.
- We have realized the significance of working together with overseas vendors to sell products. It was good that we could establish a new sales system. Through listening to the various opinions of vendors, barriers between us were removed and smooth communication was encouraged. This gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.