The highest honor a Ph.D. candidate can receive at Western Michigan University is the All-University Excellence Award. Nagdev Amruthnath, Data Scientist III in the Internet of Things (IoT) department at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, received this award when he graduated with his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering this spring.
The University does not make this decision lightly, Nagdev said. After being unanimously nominated by his department, Nagdev began a month-long process, sharing everything from his resume to research papers and publications for consideration.
“This is just a stepping stone for the things I want to achieve and contribute to science and betterment of the society,” Nagdev said.
Nagdev started working at DENSO as a summer intern in 2014 while he pursued his masters and then doctorate degrees at WMU. He spent more than three years in Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) before being hired as DENSO’s first data scientist in Battle Creek.
“When I started at DENSO, I had no idea if I was going to stay here long-term,” Nagdev said. “But everything fell into place. I was looking for a new job in data science and big data outside of DENSO when I learned they were looking for someone to fill a role that lined up with my research and passion.”
As an intern, Nagdev observed how often machines would need to stop for repairs, slowing down production, increasing associate overtime and causing the production line to miss their performance goals. This is when he decided to focus his research on preventative maintenance, recognizing the potential to help associates and increase profitability.
Combining his real-world experience and doctoral research was very successful; Nagdev has published 10 papers and will be receiving a patent. A lot of his research ideas were inspired by the projects and people he works with at DENSO.
“Everything, every day is challenging, especially in my role,” Nagdev said. “I get a lot of opportunity to explore new things and people are open to new suggestions and projects and I want to help them.”
Nagdev said his next educational goal is to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration. But first, Nagdev is celebrating a major milestone outside the classroom, being newly married this summer.
“I always say nothing is impossible as long as you are willing to put time and resources towards it. That’s what I tell people when starting a new project, nothing is impossible.”
Through 24 years of service at DENSO in Battle Creek, Machine Technician Art Fields has never called in sick. Yes! 24 years of being at work on time, every day that he is scheduled.
“My dad helped instill my work ethic. If you want something, you need to work hard for it and take pride in the work you do,” Art said.
After starting as a temporary, Art was hired in as an associate in the same area that he works in today, building radiators for automotive engine cooling modules. As a production associate, he enjoyed opportunities to work on machines and problem solve with the Machine Technician in his area. This inspired him to become one, a job he’s held since 1998.
Working at DENSO means Art has worked with people from a lot of different cultures, one of his favorite things about the company. Regardless of background, though, Art said his coworkers are always polite and willing to help.
Art enjoys participating in company-sponsored events such as golf outings, bass tournaments, company picnics and sports outings. Outside of work, Art keeps himself busy with his hobbies and activities with his family. He fishes with the Battle Creek Bass Busters every Saturday during the season and plays disc golf multiple times a week to stay active.
Art said he has witnessed a lot of growth and change at DENSO during more than two decades in Battle Creek.
“When I first started I saw how clean the place was and how they cared about their people. I knew it was a long-term company that wouldn’t be going anywhere, so I wanted to be hired in.”
“It’s been a good feeling watching DENSO grow – I’ve seen it expand and add on at least 5 times. My goal is to retire here.”
Congratulations Art, and thank you for your dedication!
Know an associate with an interesting story to tell or milestone to celebrate? Email DMMI_Communications@denso-diam.com.
Thanks to the Social Activities Committee for offering everyone a cool refreshing treat! And thanks to the DENSO Spirit Team for getting everyone to share what teamwork means to us!
Don’t forget to like your favorite photos on DENSO’s Facebook Page!
Bradley Farman loves to learn. In addition to living in three countries and learning three languages, he decided to apply for a summer internship at DENSO.
A mechanical engineering student at Montana State University, Bradley wanted to find an internship in the automotive industry. A family connection led him to apply for an engineering internship at DENSO’s thermal facility in Battle Creek, Michigan. After interviewing for the position, the offer to work in the Condenser Engineering department brought him from Montana to Michigan to help kaizen condenser processes.
“The most valuable thing I’ve learned here is how to take a project with a big scope and break it down into bite sized, more manageable parts,” Bradley said.
Bradley is the intern who traveled the farthest to spend the summer at DENSO, but travel is nothing new to Bradley, who has lived in more than eight cities and three countries in his life. He also enjoys learning new languages. He is currently learning French, having English, Spanish, and Japanese under his belt already.
Thanks for sharing your talents with us this summer, Bradley!
Who knew a bin of scrap materials could save DENSO $223,000? Ron Carr made this happen on a global innerfin condenser (GIC) production line at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan (DMMI) in Battle Creek.
Ron’s idea took just one hour to build, but it’s had tremendous impact. He used leftover SUS materials to build a lazy-susan turntable that allows associates to rotate cores easier and faster. A sensor in the middle of the turntable also helps parts move when associates are ready for the next step. This has helped reduce cycle time, in addition to improving safety and reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries for associates.
Ultimately, Ron’s idea reduced both the number of people needed to build the part and the time it takes to build it. These savings really add up! In addition to saving DENSO $223,000 per year, Ron also submitted the idea to the DMMI associate suggestion program called BEAM—Because Every Associate Matters. Through BEAM associates receive a portion of the cost savings for one year. Ron’s turntable idea earned him over $8,000.
“My family loves to take trips together, so this money will help us do that,” Ron said.
Ron was also able to crossline his idea to new GIC lines. During his four years as a DENSO associate, he submitted multiple BEAMs before moving to his current Team Leader position, and says that submitting a BEAM is a fun way to stay engaged at work.
“I encourage my Subleader and Machine Tech to do a BEAM every year. It’s an awesome program and there are a lot of people with great ideas out here that could be implemented.”
Associates with a great improvement idea to share can contact Associate Relations or the Manufacturing Improvement Team to learn more about the BEAM submission process.
It was only a small piece of plastic that brushed Jacob Klepper’s work boot, but he knew it was a big deal.
Jacob has been building and packing engine cooling modules at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan for over a year now, so he recognized the piece could have been broken off of a finished part headed for a customer. He immediately stopped the line and called his Team Leader, Stan Thuazathang.
Stan arranged for Jacob to conduct a sort of finished parts in the warehouse, determined to find the source of the broken unit. An hour and a half later, Jacob discovered the broken radiator and removed it to be repaired.
“I knew the prong was a customer use point, so we could have received a quality defect claim,” Jacob said. “That would have cost DENSO a lot of time and money if it had gotten to the customer’s assembly line, so I’m glad I was able to find it.”
Stan said this is not the first defect that Jacob has found, and appreciates his hard work and dedication to protecting DENSO’s customers.
“Jacob is a really great worker,” Stan said. “His attention to detail is excellent, and I know we can count on him to speak up when he sees something wrong. That’s really important for all of our associates, so Jacob is setting a great example.”
DENSO in Battle Creek is lucky to have 10 college interns working throughout the facility this summer. One of them is Hannah Pearl, a University of Michigan (U of M) student. She is spending the summer in the Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) department, focusing on implementing autonomous mobile robots into the radiator and ECM final assembly areas.
Hannah has several years of DENSO experience. Last summer, she interned with Production Control TIE and helped launch a yard management system. Before college, Hannah was involved with DENSO through a high school internship program in heater core and evaporator engineering while she attended the Battle Creek Math & Science Center.
“The people at DENSO are my favorite part,” Hannah said. “It’s awesome when you walk down the hall and everyone is friendly and will talk to you.”
At school Hannah is a campus tour leader and volunteers her time with Young Life, a youth group for middle schoolers. She enjoys traveling, and has a goal to be out of the country at least once a year. So far, a service trip to Mexico has been her favorite because she loved bringing hope into people’s lives.
This fall, Hannah will begin her junior year at U of M, continuing her studies in Industrial and Operations Engineering.
Thanks for being a part of the DENSO team, Hannah!
This year, Benjamin Sweet, senior embedded software engineer at DENSO, served as a judge at Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) 20th Robofest World Championship, a competition that provides fun STEM activities for students interested in autonomous robotics. We spoke to Benjamin to learn more about his experience and the incredible ideas kids had for our future with robots.
I’ve been an adjunct instructor at LTU since 1994 and have known Dr. CJ Chung, the founder of Robofest, for more than 20 years. DENSO has been supporting Robofest and LTU for some time so when Dr. Chung asked if I’d like to be a judge, I accepted because I thought it would be a great opportunity to help both organizations that I’m a part of in a unique way.
This was my first time being a judge for the exhibition portion of the event, where students had to come up with an idea for how robots might be used to solve world issues. It was really interesting to see what the students thought of. I also thought it was great having so many teams come from all over the world, and I loved witnessing the effort and hard work that the kids put into their projects!
One group of students came up with an idea to sort recyclables using robotics and sensors. While it wasn’t very complex, it was made out of 3D printed parts and it worked! Another team tried to create a smart backpack or jacket for bikers that used sensor modules and lights, which acted as turn signals. It was impressive to see that at such young ages, students had these ideas and could put together the hardware and software to make them happen.
It’s important to inspire the next generation because they can take technology we have now and elevate it to the next level. Getting kids involved in STEM can also help prepare them for the competitive nature of the global economy, especially in today’s tech-centered society. Events like Robofest can get kids excited about subjects such as math and science by showing them that they can make an idea tangible through technology and programming.
While Benjamin generously devoted his time to this year’s event, DENSO was also a platinum sponsor of Robofest and worked closely with LTU to include MacArthur K – 8 University Academy, a school located in DENSO HQ’s hometown of Southfield, MI, in the contest. Earlier this month, the school’s 4th-8th grade students visited our Southfield, MI location to show off the robotics they used in the competition and to learn more about sensor technologies from DENSO engineers.
Students visit DENSO’s North American Headquarters in Southfield, Michigan, to show off their bots.
Students compete at 20th Robofest World Championship at Lawrence Tech University in May.
Students dig into robotics at a Robofest summer camp in Southeast Michigan.
We are all in this together. And for many of us, DENSO is our home away from home. Because of this, it is critical that we develop a strong sense of comradery, community, and to have as much fun as possible along the way!
This is incredibly important. The majority of us in the USA do not like our jobs. According to a June 2017 Gallup Poll, only 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are engaged at work. It is significantly better in the U.S., at around 30% engaged, but this still means that roughly 70% of American workers aren’t engaged.
On some level, this makes sense. If something is super-duper fun, people will line up to do it for free. And sometimes really important things can, unfortunately, be a bit dull.
But I’ve discovered one huge secret to a good work life: Having a sense of comradery with your co-workers! If you enjoy being around the people you work with every day, then that makes a job significantly more rewarding. We all still have a job to do, but it’s a lot more fun with co-workers like mine.
It’s important that we see our co-workers as friends. When people ask me what I like about my job the most, my answer is always something along the lines of: I like the people I work with! I like our inside jokes, I like how we discuss our personal lives, and I like that I am able to feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m at work. Oh, and my co-worker Eli Aksovski’s shoes.
With that in mind, I’d like to give a couple of examples of teambuilding from my group!
One great way to spend time with co-workers outside of work is to play a friendly game of laser tag! Our group did this, recently, and it was a great way to bond, and create stories together. In between each laser tag match, we reveled in our favorite moments from the match. (Followed by some strategy-based discussion for the next match!)
In our group, we have a time-honored tradition (going back over 10 years!) of making a total celibratory mess of someone’s desk, whenever they celebrate a major life change or milestone, like becoming a parent.
Here’s an example from Rich Kraepel, going back over 10 years:
Our group was lucky enough to have two recent examples this year, targeting Joe Lubinski, and Andrew Kelly!
For long-time DIAM member Joe Lubinski’s desk, we decided to encompass his entire desk, wrapping it life a gift!
For Andrew Kelly’s desk, as some of DIAM associates may have noticed on your way to the Cafeteria, we decided to get creative with the streamers, with a few different types, including a multi-colored twist technique.
Last year, our group helped box food for Focus Hope, in Detroit. It was a great way to help out our local area, and work as a team. We managed to pack 885 boxes of food for homebound seniors.
Basketball and quality targets may seem like an unlikely combination, but the DENSO Production Control (PC) team in Battle Creek combined the two into a competitive March Madness Critical Lockout Challenge with championship results.
PC teams were divided into ECM and HVAC plant brackets and advanced based on the smallest number of critical lockouts. Lockouts can occur when parts in the warehouse are scanned to the wrong order, or if parts are not scanned into inventory.
“Lockouts are the tip of an iceberg, so if we manage them properly we’ll see improvements throughout the whole process that better protect our customers,” said Derrick Boyd, PC Section Leader. “Every day, at least 40 people are scanning parts for more than a dozen customers going on about 120 trucks, so we need ways to help everyone stay focused on what they’re doing.”
The challenge was fun for associates, and also helped DMMI achieve their lowest month of critical lockouts for the year. The top two teams ended the competition strong, having zero lockouts during the entire 4 week challenge! HVAC Plant finalists were team “Uncle Charlie” including Richard Martin, Jaymes Marriott, and Audra Blowers. The ECM Plant winner was “Team Adam” including Damion Adams, Timothy Barnes, and James Ayer.
“Lockouts put our customer at risk,” said Damion Adams, Advanced Associate. “This challenge got competitive because everyone was striving to do their personal best, so it helps us better focus on our job and do our part to keep customers happy.”
Team Adam was ultimately declared the champion because they had more opportunities for lockouts to occur. Each team member was awarded a Lockout Champion T-shirt and a $50 gift card. Runners-up were also awarded gift cards.
“The goal is to keep lowering our EPM (Errors per Million) by continuing to motivate our associates through challenges like this, bringing their attention to what causes lockouts, making process improvements and making sure our production team stocks in parts accurately to avoid delays and ensure high levels of inventory accuracy,” said Adam Senchuk, PC Manager.
Jeremy Shirey – Estimated completion: July 2019
Jeremy enjoyed being part of a team and resolving a variety of challenging tasks in his Machine Finishing rotation. He is thankful for all the talented individuals who have helped him throughout the program, and believes DENSO is fortunate to have so many skilled journeymen!
When he’s not at DENSO Jeremy loves spending as much time as he can with his wife and their new puppy.
Andrew Fry – Completed April 2019
Andy is thankful for everyone who helped him grow his skill set, as well as his wife who supported him and accommodated to his changing schedule during the program. His favorite part of the Apprenticeship Program was Machine Finishing.
When he’s not working, Andy spends as much time as he can on the lake with his family.
Shane O’Neil – Completed March 2019
Throughout the program he enjoyed rotating through the different groups which allowed him to meet and work with all the journeymen, and learn multiple repair techniques. Shane is thankful for Paul Phillips who helped him launch a new mod machine C-1211 during the program.
Outside of DENSO Shane enjoys fishing and riding dirt bikes with his two children, and looks forward to taking his family on camping trips.
Richard Saylor – Completed February 2019
Richard appreciates the numerous people in each department that helped him learn important skills so he can succeed in his job. His favorite part was being rotated through the different areas allowing him to gain a variety of experience.
Something not everyone knows about Richard is that he started working on cars when he was only 13 years old!
The first female CEO of a major global automaker was appointed just five years ago. In Silicon Valley, 95% of the tech workforce is white males. Fifty-four percent of employees believe their employers could do more to promote gender equality.
Diversity and inclusion are issues that permeate all industries, not just automotive. At DENSO, we are taking active steps to change that narrative.
That’s why today, we are thrilled to announce we have named Denise Carlson, vice president, North American Production Innovation Center and Safety, Health and Environment, as Executive Lead of North American Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Carlson, who was one of the first female engineers hired at DENSO, has been a part of DENSO for nearly 25 years.
We spoke to Denise on her new role and how D&I will help us reach long-term goals and shape the future of mobility.
Why is diversity and inclusion important?
First and foremost, accepting and respecting people of all races, ages, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures is the right thing to do.
Second, embracing D&I is one of the best ways to spark innovation. When we bring together diverse groups of people, it opens our eyes to the fact that there is always more than one way to achieve the same goal. Diverse groups offer unique perspectives to difficult challenges, break the cycle of inside-the-box thinking and bring great new ideas and opportunities to the table, which is critical for a company wanting to innovate.
This is particularly important for DENSO. We’re undergoing tremendous change – from a shift in business strategy to a focus on software-based solutions. Constant innovation is crucial if we want to remain competitive and best serve our customers.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
To start, I want to say that creating this position is a significant and symbolic moment at DENSO and I’m honored to be a part of it. Yes, we have D&I efforts already in place, but this shows the world we have a stake in the ground to truly progress in this area.
I am looking forward to working closely with our manufacturing facilities across North America to align on what D&I is, our goals and why it needs to be an integral part of daily functions. My hope to eventually create a work environment where diversity and inclusion is no longer a topic of discussion – because it’s engrained in the way we do business.
What does DENSO currently do for its D&I efforts?
In 2016, DENSO established the North American D&I Council to develop a three-year strategy to create and implement a culture of inclusion that promotes the diversity of all associates. We currently have D&I training for leaders at every level to strengthen understanding of D&I. At DENSO, our leaders are the champions behind this effort. They are committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse environment.
Other action items include:
Finally, it’s important to point out that diversity and inclusion are two separate things. Diversity is the collection of our similarities and differences based on characteristics that we are born with, experiences we have had and choices we have made. Inclusion occurs when people are welcomed, valued, respected and heard.
There’s more to do to be sure, and I look forward to working with associates around the country to lead that charge.
To read the press release announcing Denise’s new role at DENSO, click here.
Amy Brock has been using her talents and bringing her passion for partnerships to the various roles she has held at DENSO over the past 25 years. From Purchasing to General Administration, and now in her current role as Advanced Specialist of Community Relations at DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, she’s focused on building and strengthening relationships with internal and external customers to help DENSO grow.
“It’s important for me to build relationships with our associates and in our community. I want to strengthen and support the area where we live. As the area’s largest employer in Blount County, we have a responsibility to support and give back to our community.
I remember for the 204 plant grand opening event in 2018, we invited many community partners, government and business leaders, and associates to join us. It took a lot of time and coordination, working with different groups within DENSO, coordinating schedules, and making sure everyone was aligned. When you’re caught up in that day-to-day, it can be challenging. But, I remember, at the event, looking around and seeing more than 800 people gather for the same purpose. It was so powerful and inspiring. We came together and worked toward a common goal to build and celebrate this place that positively impacts so many lives.
As the industry changes, as DENSO changes, we need to realize we’re in this as one DENSO. We’re going through tremendous change and need to collaborate with one another. When we run into a challenge, we can face it together and reach a common solution that benefits our associates, our company and our community.”
This past spring, associates from DENSO Sales Canada, Inc. gathered for a night of culinary fun.
Associates rolled up their sleeves at a local culinary cooking school to learn some skills from a Professional Chef. After donning their personalized “DENSO Crafting the Core” aprons, associates were excited to cook a delicious 3-course meal. However, little did they know they had just walked into an intense kitchen.
Associates had to battle the grill, season the meat, and dice the vegetables, only to find they had to do it all over again if it was not up to the chef’s standards. Some were more skilled in the kitchen than others were, and with so many dinners to make, it was similar to an assembly line, plating the dishes to perfection. Even our President took part in getting his hands into marinating the meat. Everyone worked together as a team, pulling off the perfect meal, which was part of the fun.
All in good fun, everyone survived and it was time to reap the rewards of their hard work. A mouth-watering meal, consisting of brie wrapped in phyllo pastry, seared filet mignon with béarnaise sauce, garlic-mashed potatoes and Crème Brulee for dessert.
After finishing dinner, the Chef sat down with everyone and explained life as a Chef, how teamwork, communication and appreciating your staff were most important in the kitchen. After all the hard work and listening to the Chef there was much more appreciation for all the work that is involved in running a restaurant to perfection and how it translates to all areas of work.
Overall, everyone had a wonderful evening, enjoying the hard work, good food and most importantly, everyone enjoyed the company of their fellow associates.
As the world’s second largest mobility supplier, a global champion of R&D and an industry leader in sustainability, DENSO’s goals are as diverse as its operations. A few years ago, leadership recognized the need to clearly articulate the company’s goals and tactics resulting in the long-term policy 2030 and long-term plan 2025. David Williams, a six-year DENSO employee who has served in a number of different positions related to strategy and business planning had a critical role in developing this global plan and the corresponding sales roadmap. The big picture outlook required for this type of work directly inspired his core value: Vision.
“A successful leader needs vision more than anything else, as he/she is the ultimate keeper of the dream, the one making the rally cry for everyone to get behind,” said Williams. “However, setting the vision is only step one. A leader’s integrity is measured by how closely they actually follow their own vision while adhering to the values of the organization.”
Williams now showcases his commitment to vision daily in his current role as Director, Automotive Original Equipment Service Group, DPAM. He recently worked with a group of associates to show them how their business development role fit into the larger company ecosystem. This empowering process led the group to feel confident and encouraged to try something different. With a clear goal and plan in mind, the group went out and secured a great remanufacturing client win.
“If you keep the vision a living, breathing part of your work, people will better understand how it relates to them and vice versa, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction.”
Safety and Quality begin with 5S, so in the HVAC assembly area, they’re finding new ways to make 5S fun and rewarding.
A new 5S challenge, called “What’s in the Box?” rewards a team with free lunch for practicing perfect 5S in their area.
Once per rotation, a different associate does a thorough walk-through of the line. The associate is responsible to pick up anything they find on the floor and put it in the box. This could be anything from a screw, to a hair tie, to a scrap of paper.
“They know we’ll come around with the box, so it helps everyone keep their area clean,” said Lead Associate Sabino Lopez.
At the end of each shift the Team Leader reviews “what’s in the box” with the team. This helps them understand why objects were on the floor, and kaizen their processes to prevent it in the future.
The goal is an empty box. Once the team achieves this, management does a line inspection. The team earns a free lunch if the management also comes up with an empty box.
Each time a team reaches a milestone, they receive a new goal to continuously improve 5S.
“We knew the challenge was helping associates accomplish exactly what they wanted when 5S didn’t drop off, even after the free lunch,” said Eric Cole, HVAC Team Leader.
DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. associates have donated 2,726 pounds of food and 118 hours to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan over the past twelve months. Recently, 18 associates spent the afternoon assembling weekend school packs for kids as a part of DENSO’s work-time volunteer program.
In this program, each associate can volunteer eight hours of paid time each year through company-sponsored events. From sorting donations and stuffing envelopes to assembling food bags, DENSO associates are empowered to give back to the community.
Thank you to our work-time volunteers!
How did an elementary school teacher end up in the world of automotive? Barbara Tamura, Exec. Admin. to Sr. VP Sales, Operations, Strategic Planning & Marketing at DENSO Products and Services Americas, Inc., taught in inner city schools in Los Angeles for 10 years before deciding she needed a change.
Barbara always loved cars, so she looked for opportunities working for Nissan, Infiniti and Mitsubishi, before finally finding her home at DENSO. In 10 years, she’s gained extensive experience and taken on new roles and responsibilities.
Her newest assignment? A mentor to the JetStream FIRST Robotics Competition Team #2710.
JetStream isn’t your average FIRST team, and Barbara isn’t your average FIRST mentor. Finding one another has not only helped the team win championships, it’s also helped Barbara, and the DENSO team, share their passion for STEM and strengthen their local community.
We spoke with Barbara to learn more.
How did you connect with this team?
The opportunity fell out of nowhere and into my lap! It all started when my mother came with me to a DENSO holiday party last year. Later at church, my mom bragged about DENSO, our technology and expertise in robotics. My mother’s friend told her granddaughter, Lauren, about what we do because of Lauren’s love for robotics. From there, Lauren saw an opportunity and told her FIRST team about DENSO, which speaks to the power of word of mouth and being involved in your community.
Lauren’s team had recently split off from their local high school and instead was part of a community team made up of kids from around the area. Lauren wrote me a letter requesting DENSO’s support. Without backing from a school, corporate sponsorship was the only way for the group to stick together and compete.
Why did you decide to become a mentor for FIRST Robotics?
This opportunity filled a personal goal of mine to help youth in my community. Mentoring the team also aligns with two of DENSO’s long-term goals that are important to me – to contribute to a better world by creating value together, and to bring hope for the future of our planet, society, and all people.
What is the most rewarding part of being a mentor?
Seeing the enthusiasm and dedication our team put into building their robot, and despite challenges – they won! My team ended up in 1st place at the Long Beach/LA Port Fleet Week Competition. The team also recently qualified for the World Championships in Houston in April. Their ticket was punched by winning the Los Angeles Regional competition along with its alliance partners Beach Bots #330 and Robot Dolphins from Outer Space #5199. I’m so proud of them.
I also loved seeing them smile and jump up when I shared that I would continue to be their mentor and DENSO was donating $5,000 along with some equipment, which will enable the team to stay and compete together for one more year.
Why are mentors so important for FIRST Robotics teams?
This question brings me back to my teaching days. Supporting youth involved in STEM-based activities helps them succeed and teaches them that goals are easier to achieve through teamwork and collaboration. Mentors give young kids confidence, independence and a feeling of safety, which are primary steps that lead to learning.
As mentors, DENSO can teach teams about engineering, analytics, problem-solving, marketing, artificial intelligence and so much more, and help nurture their interest in these areas.
Would you recommend more DENSO associates mentor teams?
Absolutely! Mentoring helps DENSO’s reputation in many ways. It demonstrates our corporate citizenship and community responsibility and reinforces our brand with a new generation of kids.
More importantly, these youth teams are our future job talent pool. The team I mentor is exceptional and crazy about STEM. Many will go on to pursue engineering in college and I would love to see them at DENSO someday as part of our global team.
Learn more about DENSO’s involvment in FIRST Robotics here.
DENSO was Emilee’s first job out of college. Nine years later – she’s still here getting things done, working in the Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) group in Athens, Tennessee. For Emilee, creativity is at the core of problem-solving and dealing with uncertainty.
From earning her Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Tennessee, to navigating her career path at DENSO, Emilee has long understood it takes creativity to solve difficult problems, deliver quality work and design innovative solutions.
“One of my first TIE projects at DENSO involved a machine modification. Before kaizen (improvement), there were many inefficiencies in the process. I used creativity to re-design this machine by building a mock model completely out of scrap cardboard. By using what was readily available, I quickly constructed a prototype that we could use in cross-functional team meetings. The model was detailed to the point where we could simulate the process flow with associates to get their feedback on the standard hand motions and product placement. This activity made it possible for us to understand the footprint requirements, estimate the cycle time and improve ergonomics before the final machine was constructed. We were able to save DENSO time and money by focusing on an efficient line from the design phase.
The future will require all of us to be innovative and work together. Don’t be afraid of your wild ideas. Speak up, be ambitious and work together to enhance the visions and dreams around you.”
– Emilee Davis, Total Industrial Engineering, Athens, TN
Associate Spotlight on Mark Bishop
Director of Quality Engineering at DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, Inc.
I choose UTC because it was very affordable and close to home.
I was good in math and science growing up and I liked to understand how things worked.
I am currently a Quality Engineering Director. An engineering degree helps you learn to
solve problems. I always strived to be the person solving the problems.
Work in teams as much as possible in course assignments, design projects or even a team sport. I think this will better prepare you to excel in DENSO’s team environment.
Be a problem solver and leader. Always seek out the biggest problems and work to solve those. When I say be a leader, I mean, always be engaged in the discussion and the one working to motivate and help others on the team.
I think it creates engineers that can problem solve, think creatively, and manage their time. Basically prepares them to step right into an organization and start contributing.
Associate Spotlight on John Seavey
Director of Ignition Products at DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, Inc.
With Mason Seavey, Son of John and intern at DENSO
John: What does it mean to have Mason following in your footsteps in the Engineering field?
Mason and his brother both know that whatever path they may choose, we would support them fully. Given that, I guess what it means most is that he has recognized that a career in Engineering has provided a really good life for our family. He has seen that with an education in Engineering, and hard work/dedication, that there is an abundance of career choices in front of him. Mason is a really good kid, and we’re very proud of him.
What is it like to have Mason here at DENSO as an intern?
As our kids grow up, the opportunities for spending time together become less frequent. Being able to see him everyday, and share in his work experience was very enjoyable and a great memory that I’ll always have. From the beginning we ate lunch together everyday, including our Friday Lunch Out at a local restaurant.
From a work viewpoint, Mason was supporting one of the PE groups (my background) so we had regular discussions about his work, such as Safety, Quality, Capability studies, Process Control, Tool/Jig Design, and why we as Engineers at DENSO perform our jobs in the manner we do. Working as an intern at DMAT gave Mason and I a common context as to what Engineers do in a manufacturing environment. It was also a great chance for him to see what and where I spent the last 22 years of my working life, and get a small understanding of what I do.
What advice would you give him about pursuing a career in Engineering?
Within the engineering discipline, there are nearly limitless career fields to chose from, so don’t just settle for a job. Find a career that your passionate about, one that best utilizes his abilities, and that inspires him to achieve at a high level.
Why did you choose Chemical Engineering?
I chose chemical engineering for a few reasons. First and foremost because I have always been intrigued by chemistry and digging deeper into things on a molecular level. I also find myself taking interest in the problem solving/ constant improvement ideology of engineering.
These aspects drew my focus into chemical engineering but other factors that lead me to major in this field is that the job is extremely versatile. I get to work with emerging technology from at a hands on perspective, as well as the wide variety of companies around the world that hire chemical engineers.
How has your Father influenced your education?
My father has influenced my education by establishing some understanding of the engineering world. My dad being an engineer in itself, is first what attracted me to the field. Another element is that growing up he always included me on small projects of building things around the house or just providing me with activities where I can do hands on work.
This came into play when he was asking me questions of what I was looking for in an occupation. I realized that I wanted something that challenged me as well as being hands on, so engineering was the right mix of these two things.
What is it like to intern at DENSO? And interact with your Father? My experience as an intern is a little different than most interns since I am only working for the summer instead of an entire year. With that being said, I have really enjoyed my experience at DENSO for the short time here. Everyone at DMAT has been very accepting and friendly to me. I value the DENSO work environment and the core values of the company are something I will always look for in future employment. Most importantly I have learned a great deal and gained valuable work experience that I wouldn’t have received in the class room.
Additionally, working my dad has been nice since I am able to talk about the things I am learning with him and I got to learn more about what he does on a daily basis. I would say the funniest thing about working with my dad has to be at least twice a day someone I don’t know will come up to be and say, “Are you John Seavey’s son” or “You look a lot like your dad.”
Whether she’s building DENSO’s latest innerfin technology or raising her five daughters, Ashley Smith is focused on being resilient.
“Being a mom is good preparation for working in manufacturing,” Ashley said. “You have to work fast without getting overwhelmed, adapt constantly and keep stress in its place.”
Ashley’s daughters range in ages from 10 to 1 year old, so stress is a way of life. But, she says, it’s all worth it for the stability and rewarding work she has at DENSO.
“Good pay and benefits mean a lot to me and my family. My girls know I build car parts and that I work hard,” Ashley said. “If I’m not strong, who are they going to look up to?”
Ashley’s resilience was tested during the last economic downturn when she was let go as a temporary employee. She was eager to return to manufacturing and hired in as a DENSO associate in 2011.
“The product in my area recently changed to new, innerfin technology,” Ashley said. “DENSO is always introducing new, innovative products, so that’s part of being resilient for me. You have to keep learning and keep challenging yourself.”
“If you don’t do things differently, you’ll never progress,” according to Derek Sneideraitis, manager of Sales at DENSO.
But, doing things differently isn’t easy. That’s the fuel behind Derek’s core: Never give up.
“Never give up was the first thing to come to mind because placing blame or letting things go never sit well with me. It’s not in my fabric. I need the challenge. If you believe in something, you can achieve it.”
Working for DENSO, Derek has been able to put his motto into practice. Last year was an especially challenging year for him and his team. Derek recalls:
“We had several crises going on at the same time. Our customer was running into vehicle side issues, creating challenges and delays in launching their new flagship truck. They leaned on DENSO for support with only a few weeks notice . Jumping in to help fix another supplier’s issue isn’t the norm; it’s not something we planned on doing. But, the customer trusted DENSO and knew we were up for the challenge.
At the same time, my team was working on securing future business. It was an incredibly busy and trying time for the team. It really took the entire Global DENSO team to pull through. There wasn’t a map on how to get through it. Everyone really stepped up, came together, and relied on one another and DENSO’s core values to find our way through to the end.”
In the end, Derek’s team was able to achieve what they set out to do. They helped the customer launch its flagship, and secured future business, ultimately helping create goodwill and stability for DENSO business and production. The customer praised DENSO with letters of recognition and appreciation at its annual supplier event.
“With all the changes in the industry, it’s easy to give up after something doesn’t work out,” said Derek. “Having a ‘never give up’ mindset is important. We need to take ownership to move each other, and the company, forward. We’re in this together, and we have the core values we need to pull through. We are capable of great things.”
DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
In 2018, 28 associates reached the 25-years of service milestone. Roughly 45 people gathered to celebrate these honorees at the Quarter Century Club Dinner on Thursday, January 24. Thank you for choosing to make your career at DENSO. Congratulations!
Mike knows the definition of hard work. He lives it day-in and day-out. For him, hard works pays off; it’s the only way to approach the challenges life throws at you.
Mike started at DENSO as a temporary more than 11 years ago. He worked hard to show his chain of command that he wanted to be full-time, and that he could handle the responsibilities that came with that. Now, as a full-time production technician, Mike tries to lead by example and show others the value of hard work.
“As DENSO grows, and technology changes, we’re faced with so many challenges every day. Having to support first-hand with setting up new lines, I know how tough it can be. It’s always been my number one goal to ensure quality and integrity is never compromised during these crucial moments.”
Despite the challenges Mike has faced at work and personally, he challenges himself to approach every day with a positive attitude, and a willingness to make himself and his team better.
“DENSO has provided me with all the resources possible to be successful. This alone is my motivation to give back to DENSO. I feel that DENSO has molded me into the best employee I can be, and that’s why I want to give back and help others strive for greatness.
Hard work comes from within each individual. We must challenge ourselves, and others, to improve the quality of our products for our customers as we continue to grow. Hard work always pays off in life.”
DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
In the wake of Global President Arima’s New Year message, our teams are left pondering next steps, what we need to do to contribute to DENSO’s transformation. Chris Ramsey, senior manager of Business Planning at DENSO’s Maryville, Tenn., facility, is no different. But, at his core, he believes faith and courage are what he, and DENSO, needs to move forward.
Starting his career at DENSO more than 20 years ago and working his way up through Cost Accounting and Business Planning, Chris has seen a thing or two. And still, he says, “I believe in the future. I have faith in DENSO, and the people of this company, that we’re going to make a better future for the world.”
Chris shares this perspective having experienced tough times during his DENSO career:
“In 2009, when all was looking bleak from a business point of view, [DENSO] found a way to overcome. We found a way to keep our people employed, and found a new way for us to operate. We re-evaluated our operations, processes – everything. We became more competitive and stronger. Our people learned about themselves and what is really, truly possible.
“This is only one example that shows our associates are in it for the long haul – it’s not just a job at DENSO, it’s a way of life. There are a lot of different ways to make more money, but I don’t think that’s why people work here. We’re working for the people we’re with. We’re always pushing one another to find new ways to overcome challenges.”
For Chris, “faith” and “courage” go hand-in-hand.
“Courage means the courage to change, to be different, and to know when it’s time to be different and change. I believe we should question everything and not only do something because someone says we need to. Be true to your values and trust (have faith) in your potential. You have to be yourself.”
In 2015, executives asked a group of senior leaders at DENSO’s Maryville facility, including Chris, how they could improve their targets in quality, safety, cost, and delivery. Usually, a request like this is followed by a quick meeting, hurried action plan, assignments, due dates, follow-up meetings, and so on. Chris and other senior leaders decided to take a stand and put a stop to that routine. They wanted to truly dig into the core issues behind their targets.
After several discussions, the team concluded it was their mindset, their way of working, that caused them to fall short of their targets. Everyone worked in a silo. Each function was working toward their own goals, not trying to understand how they impacted other functions. It was a tough truth to face.
The team tackled it head-on. Through several discussions, off-site workshops and meetings, the group was able to break down barriers between functions and leaders. Chris recalled, “It wasn’t always comfortable, and it sure wasn’t easy, but, after 25 years of operation, Maryville’s leaders, from all our different areas, were starting to think and work more closely together.”
“Mr. Arima described this time as the second birth of our company. There are many ways to feel about that, most are probably scared or excited. We have lots of things to be concerned about – huge shifts in the mobility market, consumer habits, new competitors, and more. I believe faith is necessary because faith in this sense means we must believe in our potential. It’s not an option for us to move forward without faith in ourselves and each other. If our future is to be, it’s up to us to make it happen, and I have faith that we will all do what’s necessary to achieve our future potential.
“To make the future happen not only takes faith, but also courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what’s needed in spite of it. If we don’t have a sense of fear or crisis then we are not being realistic. However, we cannot be lead or paralyzed by it. We must press on. Find new paths, fail fast and learn fast. The future of DENSO depends on how fast we can fail and learn and our courage to keep doing both.”
DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
We’ve been hearing a lot of buzzwords, lately: paradigm shift, mobility, change. What does it all mean, and how does it apply to our jobs here at DENSO? Are they mere words, or are we really going to see their effect?
I had the honor of attending the New Year Ceremony event on January 9 to hear President Arima’s special message live. With all of the excitement of President Arima’s speech winding down, and we’ve all hopefully had time to digest it, I figured it was time to share my thoughts. (For those who have not heard Arima’s New Year message, check it out here! Or read DENSO’s long term plans here!)
It’s important that we get a discussion going about this, so please share your thoughts in the comments, below.
Meet Dustin Mitchell, DENSO engineer and blogger. DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
DENSO Spirit has been our guiding principles, the foundation, behind our innovation, quality, determination, and customer focus over the past 70 years.
As DENSO has grown to more than 170,000 people, 220 facilities, operating in 35 countries and regions around the world, we have drifted from our spirit.
In his New Year message, President Arima challenged: “Because we are busy, are we missing our foundational spirit? Are we avoiding risks?”
To achieve our long-term policy goal, and lead a transformation in the automotive industry, Arima challenges associates to go back to our spirit – strengthen our understanding and practice of our guiding principles. He redefines the DENSO Spirit values to help bring them to life for associates:
“‘Thinking things through’ means identifying the deeper meaning behind the issue, not just looking at the surface. I want you to think, think and think through with a future-oriented view,” Arima said. “The more you think, the more you see what you should do.”
“When we gather our individual power, we can maximize our performance, make changes and keep on challenging.”
“When you find what you should do, then get things done. The bigger dream you have, the bigger challenge you will face. You are the owner of your dream. It is your job.”
Watch videos on how our Mexico team is thinking things through, coming together and getting things done.
“As Team Leader for 2nd-shift RS Stamping, it is my job to keep our associates safe, ensure the team is stamping high-quality parts for our customers, and doing so as efficiently as possible to minimize costs. We stamp the parts that are assembled into finished evaporators, that go into heating and cooling systems (HVACs) for new cars and trucks. Something as simple as stamping a part wrong could lead to a major issue for a new car owner, so it’s important we’re sharp, focused and accountable.
Our 2nd shift RS Stamping team recently completed a Practical Problem-Solving Project on the reduction of muda (the Japanese word meaning waste) from associate wait time. In the spirit of creativity and problem-solving, we created a simple calculator to determine how much non-operational time we can take to achieve our production ratio goal. We record information based on the number of parts produced, however, our associates think in units of time. By converting quantity of parts into time, we have been able to give associates a better understanding of where they’re at against the target. When associates start thinking in terms of minutes lost, it creates multiple opportunities for improvement and improves our overall quality.
Based on this project, we added a satellite quality station closer to the stamping press because an associate figured out they were wasting 8 minutes per day walking to the old station. We also increased our monthly production ratio by almost 6 percent and have sustained this level for over a year.
Perhaps most importantly, this has increased collaboration and fostered a culture of kaizen on our team, with our associates continuing to actively find ways to save time daily and reduce muda of motion. This project was a success because of the associates and their commitment to improving our process, efficiency and overall quality.”
Team Leader, 2nd Shift, RS Stamping
DENSO Manufacturing Michigan (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Members of the 2nd shift RS Stamping team in Battle Creek, Mich. (left to right): Bob Loyd, Robert Rogers, Hiong Boi, Roger Cruise, Van Lian, Brian Beene, Eldon Ulsh, Barry Watson
On January 9, more than 400 associates from around the world gathered in the Detroit area for DENSO’s first Global New Year Ceremony event. Check out highlights from the event below, and shout-out to all the people who helped make it a success.
Stay tuned throughout the month to learn more about President Arima’s message, his vision for our future, and expectations for associates.
For the first time in DENSO’s history, President Koji Arima delivers the New Year Message to associates from North America.
Associates pack more than 500 toiletry bags for The Children’s Center, with the help of DENSO Cobotta robot.
Old friends and new: Associates of all levels, and from various regions around the world, strike a pose at the photo booth to commemorate their experience.
Celebrating Brand Champions: The New Year Ceremony Project Team present special gifts to representatives from AFCO and DWAM, and to President Koji Arima, a WWE fanatic
More photos and videos coming soon!
Written by: Dustin Mitchell, Engineer, Electrified Systems
Everyone knows that extroverts are outgoing, and social. And, of course, it’s equally known that introverts are the exact opposite: shy, and always keeping to oneself. Right?
Wrong. This common knowledge is based on a misunderstanding. So what’s the real deal? The reality is, extroversion and introversion is more related to how you get your energy. Moreover, this is critically important in the work place! I’ll explain why, after we define these terms a bit better.
My favorite way to explain it (being the engineering dork that I am), is through an analogy about charging a battery. A “social battery”!
An extrovert charges their social battery through socializing, itself. This is very much like a car battery, where the battery is charged while the system is in use. (Side note: the thing that does the charging is the alternator…they very product I work on at DENSO!)
However, an introvert loses charge on their social battery when they socialize. Instead they must be left alone, more akin to charging your smart phone: It charges fastest if you plug it in, and leave it alone.
You may be able to come up with a better analogy than me (and feel free to share it, below). However you parse it, the most important thing to remember is: Extroverts feel energized by socializing, and introverts feel energized by solitude. (And if you don’t strongly identify with either, you may be a mystical creature known as an “ambivert“.)
To provide more clarity…
|Extroverts tend to…
|| Introverts tend to…
You’ve probably guessed by now, that I’m an introvert. For me, socializing is incredibly fun, but also very draining. In fact, the more fun it is, the more drained I am the next day. (We sometimes call this a “social hangover”.) For me, socialized too much feels very similar to studying really hard for a big test: physically fine, but mentally drained.
It’s important to note that, nobody in this world is 100% one versus the other. (Example: I enjoy small talk, when my social battery is charged up.) This is why my lists, above, use the phrase “tend to”. It’s better to think of it as spectrum with extroversion on one end, introversion on the other, and ambiverts in between.
I said before, that this topic was critically important to us here at DENSO, in the workplace. Now that you know what I mean by these terms, we need to discuss why this matters in the workplace:
Meet Dustin Mitchell, DENSO engineer and blogger. DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
The weather didn’t exactly cooperate this year, but a group of our DENSO Veterans made us proud as they marched (in the rain) at the Knoxville Veterans Day parade!
To all of our DENSO Veterans – Thank you for your service to our country! We are honored that you choose DENSO for your career.
To all of our Veterans Supporters – Thank you for buying this year’s t-shirt and showing your appreciation. Your purchase is helping many local veterans through the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs organization.
DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee never fails to impress at the annual North America Quality Circle Competition (NAQCC)*. For the past 10 years, teams from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee (DMTN) have taken home one of the top awards at the kaizen competition. This year, Team Six Pack kept the winning streak going, taking home the President’s Award, allowing the team to move on to the next level and represent North America in the global competition in Japan in November.
Team Six Pack focused on winder chokotei (unplanned idling or minor stops). As they dug deeper into the issue, they uncovered three root causes and identified countermeasures for each issue. Addressing these issues resulted in reduced faults and overall chokotei, reduced scrap, reduced cost for parts and improved team efficiency on the line. This ultimately leads to better quality alternators, where the team’s rotors end up.
While the team made significant improvements to DENSO’s overall quality and business operations, they walked away with individual successes as well:
“For 21 years now, I’ve been doing kaizen, and I’ve learned that there are many angles to a great quality circle. We saw ideas from all areas of safety, quality, cost and delivery. The experience taught me that everyone can be part of a kaizen team and make a difference for the company, their team, and for every individual who wears a DENSO shirt.
“During this project, I realized, the answer was right in front of us the whole time. We just needed to follow the proper steps, in the proper order, and let the answers reveal themselves to us. Sometimes the smallest detail, something you see every day, could be the answer. Do not let abnormal become normal!” – Sam Estes
“My favorite part of the NAQCC event was the team building activities. I also enjoyed watching the other presentations. I enjoyed the team building part of the competition most though because we were able to interact with the other teams and get to know many people from many different plants.” – KC Cunningham
Congratulations to Team Six Pack!
Get to know the team
Our people are the core of everything we do – our commitment to safety and quality, our drive to develop innovative products and give back to our communities. Our success comes from our associate’s diverse talents and strong passion.
Click here to learn more about a couple people behind Team Six Pack, what motivates and drives them every day.
NAQCC is the North America Quality Circle Competition, a regional competition for DENSO’s top quality circle teams to demonstrate their skills in team building, leadership, computer knowledge, public speaking, and problem-solving. Quality circle teams consist of a group of associates, working together to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems. DENSO has thousands of quality circle teams across the globe, helping DENSO reduce costs, increase quality, efficiency and safety, and preserving and protecting the environment.
DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. So, we want to know – what’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you?
We talked to a couple of the winners of the 2018 North America Quality Circle Competition (NAQCC) President’s Award – Team Six Pack – about what drives and motivates them every day:
My Core: Family values
Sometimes I work long hours – what can I do to improve the situation? Sometimes I work the weekends – how can we work better together to improve the line. Sometimes the machines just won’t run – how can I turn the negative situation into a positive result? The associates are tired and getting burnt out – remember the great times and think how we can take small steps to improve the negative.
These questions we are asked almost daily, I work for my family and my company. You can be negative, tired, and burnt out, but just remember how strong this company is and you can make a difference.
My Core: Making a quality product for my customer
My motivation and drive every day is doing a good job and being proud of what my team and I have accomplished.
Our core is our people. They bring special strengths and skills to the work bench every day. They drive our success. For Shashidhar, being meticulous in his work is most important:
“I believe in doing things right the first time–pay attention to details with the goal of avoiding mistakes in the first place.
This is important because quality is the core of any successful business. One cannot attain the best of quality if attention to details – the meticulous approach— is missing. To be meticulous, you have to be diligent and be focused. Small things make a big difference in terms of quality.
I am one of the software project leads for Ford programs in Cockpit Systems and am responsible for the customer interaction, requirement gathering, planning and managing the software development. A meticulous approach is critical in my role and throughout the product development process.”
— Shashidhar Krishnamurthy, Cockpit Systems
Picture this: you’re walking into a meeting, just you and your boss. You’re not entirely sure what the meeting topic is, so you’re a bit nervous. Normally, this meeting might be about G&Os, or a discussion on our engineering strategy for the customer. Or maybe some constructive criticism (Let’s face it, we all make mistakes – kaizen!)
Now imagine my surprise when my boss asks: “Would you be interested in writing a blog. At work. For DENSO.” Sounds great (and scary, knowing lots of people may be reading what I say…), but how exactly does something like this come about?
Well, in my group (ESED – Electrified Systems Engineering Department) we’re encouraged to take on a “Special Project”, every year. It’s a small part of our work lives, but it allows us to do something we’re passionate about, while at work. And furthermore, to incorporate this passion into daily DENSO life. In my case, my boss had some prior knowledge that I enjoy writing, and so his suggestion for my Special Project was to write a DENSO blog…and so it begins!
I know what you’re thinking. This is just an excuse to not have to do real work, while I’m at work. Exactly! OF COURSE NOT!!
I have a lot to offer, in terms of sharing what an engineer does at DENSO, how to succeed and navigate the company. I want to share my experiences with others within our organization. This can serve a dual-function of building comradery with those who share similar experiences, while [hopefully] enlightening those who do not. I also want to talk about how to make DENSO a better place to work (Hint: Special Projects!) I also very much want to start a conversation about these topics. In fact, your participation is one of the main reasons I’m doing this, so please introduce yourself in the comment section!
If we’re going to be writing back and forth, I figure it behooves you to know a bit about me. My background in writing has always been more casual in nature. For example, I used to have a Livejournal… in a time when blogging was a relatively new concept and people wrote anything and everything, to anyone who’d read. The entire world rejoices in the fact that I cannot remember my user name. Who knows what early-20s me wanted to write about for the world to see!
Things didn’t stop there, however. Writing is a very consistent and important part of my life, today. I have multiple hand-written journals (for different purposes), and I love to type out my thoughts, as well. Some of my writings are very long-winded, and boring to everyone in the world (but myself), like who would win in a fight: Superman or Goku? (if you have a solid argument, let’s hear it in the comments below!). Others are just a few sentences of something I want to remember forever, like something my toddler did that day, or something I’m thankful for (p.s.: gratitude journals are powerful).
I very often feel like my brain is coming up with thoughts too fast for me to process them all. Part of why I like writing is because it is a way for me to slow my brain down to focus on more concrete ideas.
On a personal note, in my free time I like to play PC video games, when I’m not chasing around a toddler (my cardio). I also enjoy lifting weights and compete in US Strengthlifting. It’s very amateur stuff, but I enjoy it. Ask me about lifting barbells! I’m married, and I have two daughters. I do consider myself to be a “family man”. Work-life balance is a priority for me; they’re my favorite people, and the reason I try my best at work.
Pictures and videos of my family are one of the ways I get through work on a bad day (or even a good day!) I know I’m not the only one; my group often shares personal pictures and stories with each other, while refilling our coffee together, in the morning (when we’re not quoting Ron Swanson, or referencing one of our many inside jokes, that is.)
This is the whole family! From left to right is Aeriana, myself, Lucy, and my wonderful wife Erin.
This is Tess. Of course, with a short name like that, her nicknames are longer than her actual name. I often call her “Tesla” or “Tesseract”. In this picture, she is “protecting” us from other neighborhood dogs, ready to bark at a moment’s notice.
Alright, so you’ve gotten to know me a bit. Your turn – Ask me a question or share something about yourself, below!
Monozukuri, “the art of making things” is a strength DENSO has nurtured since its founding. It has led to many of our unique manufacturing processes and world-first products—accomplishments that wouldn’t be possible without our people. Our people bring special strengths and skills to the work bench every day. They drive our success. We have some of the most innovative thinkers and creators, dedicated to making the world a better place.
This month, we’re sharing the stories of our DENSO associates with students across North America to inspire a new generation of manufacturing and engineering experts. By sharing these stories, and working with our industry partners, we want to address the skilled labor shortage our industry faces, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.
We’re taking our associates’ stories on the road! Outside of our annual university career fairs, we’re participating in other events to help promote manufacturing engineering careers.
Manufacturing Day: Throughout the month, DENSO’s North America group companies are hosting tours, career fairs and discussions with high school and college students as part of National Manufacturing Day.
Society of Women Engineers: DENSO will have a display booth and virtual reality experience at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Career Fair in Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 18-19.
What you can do
Help us celebrate our people and inspire students. Here’s how you can help:
DENSO International America, Inc.’s Ohio office, located in Dublin, recently celebrated over 15 years of business! The office was originally opened in 2002 to support our operations with Honda and employed just 12 people at the time. Today, it’s grown to 50 associates, which now includes engineers who work at Honda R&D daily.
“We’re one of the most powerful automotive companies in the world, and Dublin is one of the most highly ranked cities to live in Ohio. That kind of environment is attractive and why we decided to stay and grow with Dublin. It’s a city that never stops thinking of ways to improve the city for its citizens and businesses. Focusing on continuous improvement is a philosophy in which Dublin and DENSO are most certainly aligned,” said Bryan Starr, Senior Manager at DENSO International America, Inc., Ohio.
Beyond work, DENSO is committed to the Dublin community, where most employees live. We’re a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and DENSO’s North American Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research. We also support local schools focused on STEM, and in March, were selected as Dublin City School’s “Business of the Month.”
Associate Chad Peters has been with DENSO, Ohio, since the day its doors opened. He’s seen firsthand how our business has grown to meet the needs of the changing auto industry. Chad knows Dublin is a great place to put roots and DENSO is a great place to work for talented professionals looking to make a difference and grow their career.
“What’s kept me at DENSO? To start, the people. We’re a close, committed team who work together to get the job done. Second, the work is so dynamic. Every day is different, and the new technology we’re developing makes my job exciting and rewarding. Finally, I’ve had so many opportunities at DENSO, ranging from different roles and different product lines to working in Japan for a year.”
Congratulations to our team in Dublin!
Nearly 100 people teed off for this year’s DENSO Golf Outing at Binder Park Golf Course in Battle Creek on Sunday, July 29.
Congratulations to this year’s winners–Chuck Merwin, Matt Garland, Roger Froelich and Rich Tucker!
More than 500 Battle Creek associates visited the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Affiliate Rewards Road Tour on Monday, July 23.
Attendees test drove new Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles and enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of FCA while learning about associates’ eligibility for discounts on new cars.
Thanks for a fun time, FCA!
When the idea for a safety mural came up, Production 2B Associate Ashley Ellis came to mind. Her intricate butterfly design won the DMMI Making Strides Against Breast Cancer design contest. She was excited to help out and hand painted a beautiful “Safety Takes Us Home” message. Thanks for sharing your talents to help raise safety awareness, Ashley!
Hiroaki Masuo, an electrical engineer at DENSO’s Maryville, Tennessee, facility (DMTN), has supported local FIRST Robotics student teams for more than nine years. FIRST Robotics is an international competition where students get firsthand engineering experience. On these teams, Hiroaki coaches and mentors students about mechanical engineering and programming robot code – a passion of his that he says helps pass on his knowledge from his career at DENSO to the next generation of STEM workers.
Hiroaki believes working directly with these students teaches them the skills they need to become strong assets and key team players when they eventually enter the workforce.
“The superb skills they learn in this program give them a competitive edge they cannot acquire from ordinary curriculum,” he explained.
DENSO puts a high value on not only manufacturing high quality automobile parts, but also nurturing the talents of those who may lead the company in the near future. Giving strong support to FIRST Robotics teams and competitions is a means to make contributions to enhancing young people’s potential and opportunities in communities DENSO serves.
Our associates continue to impact the neighborhoods where they work and live in big ways. In April, 22 quality engineers took time out of their day to volunteer with the American Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm program. These rock star associates installed free fire alarms in homes all over Southeast Michigan. Volunteers like Chris Panke, Justin Higgs, and Rebecca Hagerman, who participate in DENSO’s Worktime Volunteering program, shared the following about their experience:
“The work was very rewarding. It was shocking to learn how vulnerable we all are to the risk of loss due to inadequate fire safety precautions. The numbers shared were staggering and each homeowner was extremely appreciative in our education about those risks along with installing the smoke detectors which can help save them and their family members. It really was an eye-opening experience.” – Chris Panke, Quality Planning, Sr. Manager
“This was a very fun event that helps many people who are less fortunate. It is a very sobering experience to see some of the living conditions that the elderly and former military members are living in, and I was glad to be able to provide them with the extra peace of mind of having working smoke detectors…I hope to volunteer for it in the future.” – Justin Higgs, Field Quality Engineer
“For me, when I signed up to volunteer for the Sound the Alarm program, I wasn’t expecting to make much of a difference by installing smoke detectors. I was wrong. Some of the homes my team visited had zero functioning smoke detectors – zero. Just by installing the smoke detectors and providing the homeowners with valuable information about fire safety within the home and explaining the importance of having a fire escape plan, gave me a rewarding feeling. Like I was making a difference in these peoples’ lives. It was a great experience.” – Rebecca Hagerman, Sr Service/QA Support Specialist
In 2017, DENSO gave a $10,000 grant to support Sound the Alarm. From April 28-May 13, the nationwide program installed over 100,000 free smoke alarms in 100 different cities across the United States. According to the American Red Cross, seven people die from home fires each day. This initiative was created to raise fire safety awareness and save lives.
Thank you to all our employees who exemplify our passion for strengthening communities and keeping them safe. Keep up the good work!
Our Cafeteria staff welcomed special guest chef, Neko, vice president of Gasoline Manufacturing Division, into the kitchen the past couple weeks. Neko grabbed an apron and dove in to show the Cafeteria staff how to cook new, authentic Japanese dishes.
Our engineers like to compete. From sports leagues to holiday gift donations, they go all out. Our Cockpit Systems* Engineering Division even used DIAM’s Worktime Volunteering program to start its own competition for associates—a competition to see who can pack the most food donation boxes at Focus Hope for low-income seniors in need.
The competition started in Cockpit Systems 3. Dan Tran, an Engineering Senior Manager in Cockpit Systems 3, and his team chose to volunteer at Focus Hope using DIAM’s Worktime Volunteering. The following year, his director encouraged the other departments to participate and make it a division-wide competition.
“I think it’s important for management to be engaged in these types of activities to lead by example” said Dan. “Everyone enjoyed participating at this event and it was a great team bonding experience. We feel like we’ve given back to the community and that we were challenged. When someone saw a packing station falling behind, they jumped in to help keep things moving.”
*Cockpit Systems formerly known as Body Component Systems
The Winners Circle
Over the last few months, four teams competed in the Cockpit Systems Focus Hope challenge. Check out the rankings below to see how the teams fared, and read about the experiences of two associates who participated:
Team: Cockpit Systems 3
Packed: 24 pallets (1,325 boxes)
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (757 boxes/hr)
“I want to commend my team for their commitment because even though it was the worst snow storm of the winter, everyone still made it downtown in time for the activity,” said Victor Vulcu, Engineer 4 in Cockpit Systems 3. “Our team won, but what’s most important was that our team packed a week’s worth of food donations for low-income seniors. I think more teams should do activities like this. It’s a good experience for associates. It’s something tangible and you can see your immediate impact.”
Team: Cockpit Systems 1
Packed: 14 pallets (770 boxes)
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (513 boxes/hr)
Packed: 22 pallets (1,200 boxes)
Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (480 boxes/hr)
Team: Cockpit Systems 4
Packed: 18 pallets (1,000 boxes)
Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes (429 boxes/hr)
“This volunteer activity would not have been successful without our director, Chee Cheong, and the support of our senior managers and managers,” said Nancy Chen, administrative assistant in Cockpit Systems 4. “Our director sent an email to everyone encouraging us to participate. Some associates were hesitant at first, but then they started signing up after seeing the email. The email showed that our director supported the activity during work hours and believed it was meaningful. We felt a sense of community after the activity. We felt like one DENSO team. We’re very proud to represent DENSO at Focus Hope and to show other groups our DENSO Spirit.”
Cockpit Systems Division Total: 78 pallets (4,290 boxes)
Years to Come
“Each year, we want to keep improving to see how we can be more efficient and pack the most boxes possible,” said Dan. “It’s a chance for us to be challenged both mentally and physically. Friendly competition helps drive team motivation and it feels good to support a local organization such as Focus Hope.”
Learn How to use Worktime Volunteering
Click the “Download” button on the upper, right hand side of this story to download information about DIAM’s Worktime Volunteering program.
Two DPAM associates are celebrating milestone anniversaries this month. Lisa VanderBrink and Ramon Ramos are each celebrating 30 years with the company. Congratulations to Lisa and Ramon!
Associates and their families had a blast during our annual bus trip to downtown Chicago. The weather lived up to Chicago’s reputation as the “Windy City,” but the sun stayed out to help associates enjoy shopping, dining and museums before being whisked home in comfort.
Thanks to the Social Activities Committee for planning this annual event!
How long have you been at DENSO?
What do you do?
As the Director of Product Design Engineering, I lead three teams including Manufacturing Product Design, Supplier Engineering, and Mold Design Engineering responsible for both HVAC and ECM Products. One of the unique aspects of this role is that these three groups support all TAC facilities and work closely with each other to support the development of TAC Products.
Manufacturing Product Design issues product designs from DNJP, supports ECI implementation, and is responsible for the development of Design For Manufacturing (DFM).
Supplier Engineering supports the development of new manufacturing processes at suppliers, localization of products, and the Design For Manufacturing.
Mold Design Engineering is responsible for the development and procurement of injection molds used to make our larger HVAC and ECM components. Injection molding is a process used to make plastic parts that many of us use every day, even things such as Lego’s. Injection molded parts in DMMI’s products include HVAC cases, radiator tanks, and cooling fans.
What’s the most interesting part of your job?
We get to see vehicles in their infancy and then watch them grow up. From the very earliest stages of design, we see cars develop through concept, quotation, prototyping – all the way to the troubleshooting mass production issues and potentially warranty improvements.
Our PDE Team was reorganized in 2017 to focus on Design For Manufacturing which is also very interesting. In product design, kaizen—continuous improvement by many small changes—can be too late. We need foresight during the design and development process to implement changes before the product is manufactured. Our biggest challenge is in making the product easier to manufacture and doing it during the design phase. It’s a big change for DENSO that we’re working on across North America.
What important lesson(s) have you learned in your career at DENSO?
I think the biggest thing is reflecting on what they do and don’t teach you in school. I pursued a really good education—a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, an MBA from Western Michigan University—but what they don’t teach you in school is that people are your most important asset. Company A and Company B can have same facilities, same technology, but it’s the people that make it happen. The company that focuses on people is the company that will succeed.
My management philosophy is servant leadership. I believe that I’m here to help the individuals on our team that are doing the work. I’m not here to manage them, I’m here to help lead them to be successful. If I do my job well, they won’t need me anymore.
What advice would you give to an associate who wants to advance their career—either through a management path or as an individual contributor?
Take ownership for your future. Every job in this company is important. You need to find the one that will provide you with the motivation to succeed. When you find the right job, success will follow. What drives you to succeed is what you enjoy. No one will hand that to you. You have to find it.
What is your fantasy job?
Tell us something that people may not know about you.
I’m actually at my best when my feet are not on the ground. My passion for the last 20 years has been flying, both hot air balloons and single engine aircraft. I’m also certified to inspect and repair Lighter-Than-Air aircraft.
Congratulations to Siddharth Dasgupta on placing first in the 2017 Technical Presentation Development contest. Each year, engineers in Southfield, MI hone their presentation skills by showcasing their projects in front of a panel of judges for best overall presentation and insight into problem-solving, product innovation and efficiency. Second place was a tie between Tyryn Crow and Alec Bergweiler.
Communications, Corporate Services & Compensation (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Creating Connections: Throughout my career at DENSO in Communications and HR, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to create connections, whether that’s connecting an associate recognition story to the DENSO Spirit, or helping associates feel connected to the company’s mission, or using data to connect the dots and address HR problems. Telling great stories and creating connections can be a powerful way to inspire people to action!
Vice President of DENSO Thermal North America Center HVAC & PIC (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Relentless: Nothing of any significant value comes ‘easy’, therefore our objective must be continuously ‘sought’ with desire and courage. Pursuit: Continuous, intentional action!
Excellence: A high quality of life necessitates that we individually and collectively commit to add unique, extraordinary value through our God given gifts and abilities.
Marketing Supervisor (Long Beach, Calif.)
Stay Humble, Hustle Hard: Stay humble is an inspiration of how to be – grateful for the job I have and position I hold here at DENSO. Hustle hard serves as a reminder of who I am – a hard worker.
Senior Vice President (Long, Beach, Calif.)
Authentic: As a leader and face to our customers, I believe it’s important to be genuine and represent my true nature or beliefs. I feel it’s important to be reliable and trustworthy. This transfers to our DENSO quality standards to provide value through reliability and trust in our brand.
President (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Leadership = Vision + Passion: Success depends on people! One of my personal missions is to develop good leaders. With this equation, I wanted to illustrate a few of the components which need to be in your core.
Senior Vice President (Long Beach, Calif.)
Passion: Our associates must address each DENSO strategy with a passion to exceed expectations. Be inspired to live each day with a passion to make a difference in your family, personal life, and professional career.
Communications (Maryville, TN)
Community: As our company grows, community involvement becomes even more important. If every DENSO location is active in the community, then the entire world will know that DENSO is working every day to protect lives, preserve the planet and prepare a bright future for our generations to come.
Senior Vice President, Engineering (Southfield, Mich.)
Passion: Passion is important. I encourage my team to dedicate 10 percent of their time on something they’re passionate about because it drives their energy, commitment and focus. Who knows where it could lead.
CEO of DENSO Thermal North America Center
Battle Creek, Mich.
Stand Out: As DENSO, we aim to be a product differentiator rather than a low cost leader. In an industry with tough competition, differentiation is tough; we must seek every day to Stand Out by solving customers’ problems (even hidden ones) better than anybody else can even imagine.
Vice President (Maryville, TN)
Building Trust, Growth Mindset: Building trust is a growth mindset. Through the challenge and the struggle, we gain insight and knowledge that can propel us to new, higher levels of understanding and achievement.
Engineer (Southfield, Mich.)
Problem Solver: As an automotive engineer, we solve a spectrum of problems, from energy efficiency and constantly improving passenger safety while reducing injuries and deaths caused by automobile accidents, to minor ones like troubleshooting a malfunctioning circuit.
Vice President (Maryville, TN)
Courage to Change: As I have rotated from one division to another, I can feel the positive impact of my personal and professional changes through working in different business environments in a relatively short term. Similarly, DENSO is faced with paradigm shifts in the future automobile society, so as an organization, we need the “Courage to Change” our way of doing things to thrive in this new and challenging environment.
Finance & Accounting (Southfield, Mich.)
Overcome Challenge: We are all faced with different challenges in our work and personal lives, and learning how to navigate through those challenges successfully usually makes us stronger and better people.
Norihito “Jack” Tanahashi
Senior Vice President (Long Beach, Calif.)
Professional Breakthrough: Being a professional means meeting and exceeding expectations to best serve customers, companies and society. Professionals succeed when they take responsibility and act to make progress. Motivated by an unwavering commitment to our customers, companies and society, this initiative produces breakthroughs that benefit everyone.
President (Maryville, TN)
Exporting Talent: To me, the key to ‘Crafting the Core’ is to strengthen our management through organizational transformation, to develop future leaders. I want to develop leaders to support DENSO globally, not just at our Tennessee facility, as DENSO continues to grow.
Human Resources (Southfield, Mich.)
Making a Difference: This is my main purpose in life, personally and professionally. Being an inspiration to people does not require a whole of effort or expertise; patience and understanding goes a long way.
Administrative Professional (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Blessed: I feel that everything I am and have is because God blessed me with my job and has allowed me to be a vessel to help others every day.
Haruhiko “Hal” Kato
President (Long Beach, Calif.)
Ownership & Dream: Making a dream come true requires great passion. However, passion alone is not enough. If you are not fully committed to making it happen, you are literally just dreaming. In other words, a dream without the commitment to follow through will not drive you to take action. Making the commitment and taking ownership are what transform dreams into reality.
Security & Emergency Response (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Be Ready: My passion is in encouraging others to be prepared for emergencies. Emergency preparedness, in my opinion, is key to long term wellness, whether as a business or as an individual.
Engineer (Southfield, Mich.)
Accountability: Regardless of who I’m working with, or what project I’m working on, I want people to know they can count on me to deliver. Working relationships are so important at a company like DENSO, and I think accountability is key in achieving that.
Engineer (Southfield, Mich.)
Collective Love: It’s our job, collectively, to infuse love into our products, to be thoughtful in the design, evaluation and production. We must ensure the safety of our end-users, our loved ones.
Purchasing (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Meaning Drives Purpose. Value Drives Creation: It’s very important to me to understand “The Why”— why my job or any specific task is important to the success of the company. Once I understand my value, it really drives me to be successful for DENSO.
Community Affairs (Southfield, Mich.)
Our Future: My role within DENSO is to create opportunities to support talent development, student engagement, community outreach, and road safety awareness. In this role, I’m actively working on projects for the future of DENSO, our communities and my own family.
David H. Williams
Director of OES Sales Planning & Marketing (Long Beach, Calif.)
Vision & Integrity: A leader is ultimately the keeper of the dream, an ideal for others to rally behind. A leader’s integrity is measured by how closely they follow their own vision while adhering to the values of the organization.
Corporate Communications (Southfield, Mich.)
People and their stories: People and their stories are what inspire and motivate me everyday at DENSO. I want to help influence change and make improvements at DENSO by sharing associate stories and best practices we can all learn from.
Jesus Abdiel Juarez Ortega, technician from DENSO Mexico, took to the stage all by himself at this year’s WorldSkills Competition, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in October. He was carrying the Mexican flag proudly as the only representative from his country and for DENSO in North America.
“It all started as a project at work,” said Juarez. “DENSO asked people to participate in this competition, and the only requirement was that you had to be able to measure. I was looking at it as a way to progress my career. After an intense selection process, Juarez embarked on a grueling training process, which included 12-13 hours of training per day, more than three months spent at a training center in Japan, and one month in Thailand. He even learned Japanese to prepare for his trip! In the end, Juarez came out on top with a new perspective, approach to work and role at DENSO. Juarez is now a coach for others who want to improve their skills or prepare for a future WorldSkills.
Established in 1946, WorldSkills is a premier world event for skills recognition and advancement, helping to raise quality, promote professional development and drive improvements in vocational training. It’s an “Olympics” for young professionals to test their skills and compete in various categories, including information and communication technology, manufacturing and engineering, transportation and logistics, and others.
DENSO At WorldSkills
DENSO has participated in the WorldSkills Competition since 1971. To date, DENSO associates have won 32 gold medals, 16 silver medals, and 15 bronze medals. This year, DENSO participants from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mexico competed in eight categories, taking home a gold medal and bronze medal.
Nearly 200 associates from locations throughout our region gathered on historic Mackinac Island, Michigan, for this year’s North America Quality Circle Competition (NAQCC). While the island doesn’t allow cars, DENSO teams across North America presented innovative ways to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of our manufacturing processes and automotive parts.
Teams spent time learning from one another, networking, and even found time to make a community impact—assembling and decorating superhero capes for Camp Quality Michigan, an organization that provides free summer camp and support services to children battling cancer.
This year, NAQCC teams saved DENSO a total of $2,110,264!
Congratulations to DENSO’s team in Osceola, Arkansas, for taking home the 4 Million Man Hour Safety Award!
DENSO Manufacturing Arkansas was recognized by the Arkansas Department of Labor, Arkansas Insurance Department, and Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission for more than 4 million hours of work without an accident, injury, or illness between June 15, 2013 and January 31, 2017.
Thanks, Arkansas team, for your commitment to safety!