“We want to always be thinking of ideal production processes aswe look over the existing processes.”Although this project was begun mainly to educate young technicians,we also hope that it will help people, from children to adults,see, enjoy and understand the appeal and importance of brakes.By building miniature lines, we developed a viewpoint that allowedus to see the entire production process. In doing so, we were alsoable to understand some of the challenges that will have to beaddressed when designing manufacturing facilities in the future.For example, in the miniature drum brake production line built in2012, we tried to use a clockwork-type mechanism for the first time.We realized, however, that when applied to a real production line,the increased burden on the camwould be a problem. Issues connectedwith maintainability alsoemerged.Going forward, we want todevelop manufacturing facilitiesthat require less energy and labor by applying interdisciplinary thinkingto optimize our methods.Interview with Miniature Line DesignersTopicsHiroshi KitajimaJoined Akebono in 2006Involved in Miniature Project No. 3 (Drum Brake)Mana TakawaJoined Akebono in 2010Involved in Miniature Project No. 2 (Brake Pad)Takashi AkiyamaJoined Akebono in 2009Involved in Miniature Project No. 1 (Disc Brake)Building Miniature Lines to Train Young TechniciansEvery year, Akebono has young technicians create a miniature brakeor brake component manufacturing line that runs on a single motoras part of their training. A team of young technicians from theProduction Engineering Division creates the miniature line from planningand design through fabrication.In 2010, six young associates who had been with the Companybetween one and five years built a miniature disc brake manufacturingline. The six membersapproached the projecttogether, studying theentire manufacturing processand visiting productionsites. Their completed miniatureline springs intomotion at the touch of a switch, with a voice recording and displayscreen that explains the manufacturing processes in detail.In 2011, a miniature brake pad manufacturing line was built bysix associates who had been with the Company for between two andfive years. The miniature line presented a look into the normally difficultto observe raw material compounding, stirring, pressing, heating,grinding, surface hardening and coating processes, evendisplaying the pressure plate finishing process. The team managedto make the miniature a third smaller than that of the previous yearand also installed a solar power system to save energy.In 2012, seven young associates who had been with theCompany for between two and seven years built a miniature drumbrake manufacturing line in cooperation with the Karakuri Project(see page 45). The miniature clearly recreates the pressing, plateassembly, coating, and total assembly processes. This miniaturewas even smaller than the miniature brake pad line of the previousyear and displayed the movement of drum brakes from the reverseside as well. The very entertaining miniature also displayed messageslike “Congratulations on joining the Company.”Such activities help associates understand how crucial it is thatcomponents are versatile and easy to manufacture as well as howimportant proper maintenance is. The associates’ problem-solvingskills and overall understanding of production processes alsoimprove. These experiences can be put to use in real productionlines to help realize even greater technological improvements.The miniature lines produced through this program are on displayin the entrance hall of Ai-City headquarters and in the “Ai-Museum”(Brake Museum), where visitors are given the chance to see brakesup close.Environmental ManagementThe Development of New Products and TechnologiesUsing environmental accounting data, we are continually revisingour operations to achieve better eco-efficiency.