We Are Toshiba: Do the right thing to maintain passengers’ comfort and safety
2021/03/26 Toshiba Clip Team
- Supporting people’s daily lives by maintaining elevators and escalators as a field engineer
- Doing the right thing to promote comfort and safety of passengers
- Working with a purpose will lead to positive changes
Toshiba elevators and escalators are seen in a variety of buildings over the world, including TOKYO SKYTREE®, the world’s tallest freestanding broadcasting tower. Behind the scenes, field engineers ensure the safety and comfort of elevators and escalators, which are indispensable in today’s urban living. In this series, we take a closer look at employees who embody the Essence of Toshiba. Mr. Kenji Umemura, who is involved in maintenance and inspection of elevators and escalators at Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation, shares what he considers important in his daily work.
My pride and satisfaction to keep people moving
–Why did you decide to join Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation?
When I was a student at a technical college, I saw the news that the world’s fastest elevator developed by Toshiba (as of 2004) had been delivered to TAIPEI 101 skyscraper in Taiwan. I wanted to work for a company with such an amazing technology! I have an interest in mechanical objects since I was a child, and the news sparked my interest in the internal structure of elevators and escalators. I also decided to join Toshiba because I was familiar with the company through TV commercials and other media.
Kenji Umemura, Field Engineer, Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation
– What is your impression of the industry after joining Toshiba?
Before joining the company, I took it for granted that elevators and escalators would work properly. Toshiba’s specialized engineers and technicians perform rigorous safety checks and maintenance behind the scenes to allow us to enjoy mobility comfortably and safely in today’s urban landscape. I am proud to be a member who contributes in supporting our daily life.
On the other hand, elevator maintenance and inspection works involve carrying out repairs and replacements at high elevations and sometimes require technicians to be on top of the elevator cabin. Deviating from the work procedures can be dangerous, and so during an introductory training, I was repeatedly reminded that safety is the top priority. I think I was developed an acute sense of awareness that we need to place work safety first to provide comfort and security to our customers.
– What is a typical day like for you in carrying out maintenance and inspection work?
I am in-charge of maintenance and inspection works of Toshiba’s elevators and escalators installed in buildings located in Shinagawa and Meguro wards in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to the annual legal inspections, we also perform regular maintenance depending on customers’ requirements. Specifically, we check the operations and condition of the equipment, identify and monitor vibrations, and replace parts regularly. Due to complexity and our commitment to provide detailed checks of our elevators, the frequency and method of inspection are specified in detail, to ensure safety and allow passengers to travel with ease.
We carry out maintenance works on an average of four to five elevators per day, or about six on the most frequent days. Depending on the location of the elevator, inspections may be conducted during the night or early morning. Since elevators operate day and night, we have established a system to prepare for malfunctions and natural disasters by organizing work shifts throughout the service office, including outside office hours and public holidays.
Thorough inspections are carried out to ensure the safety of passengers
Appreciative words from customers is my greatest joy
– What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When I receive words of appreciation from customers, I feel really happy to do my job. After the inspection, when I hear compliments such as “Thank you as always” or “I always feel safe using elevators because of what you do,” motivates me to do better. We may receive complaints when problems occur, but we are always happy when they are satisfied with our prompt inspection and recovery. I believe to gain the trust of our customers is to “Do the right thing” so that they can use our elevators and escalators safely and comfortably.
– Please tell us what you value in your work to “Do the right thing”.
It is to prepare well in advance. Some years ago, I participated in an in-house skills competition called Technical Masters, which is to compete in skills such as development design, manufacturing, maintenance, servicing, and sales, etc. At the competition, I was awarded first place in the two competitions for “elevator legal inspection work” and “brake quality confirmation work”. My chief engineer and I paired together to clinch a gold medal in this competition. This gave me the confidence to take on new challenges and helped me to recognize the importance of preparing well in advance and to widen my knowledge.
In our working field, we inspect various types of elevators and escalators every day. To complete a task on time while maintaining the quality of the work, it is essential to read through the materials beforehand and have the necessary tools and measuring instruments ready. If you are well-equipped, you will be able to respond quickly and efficiently during an emergency. When I first joined the company, I was taught that “the success of a job depends on your preparedness,” and I think that is exactly what I learned.
– Elevators are evolving with changing times. Isn’t it hard to keep up with these changes?
Actually, my interest in this field has spurred me to pick up knowledge and skills continuously. In addition to safety performance, elevators are also improving in areas such as energy-saving performance, controlled operation and early recovery in the event of earthquakes, fires, and power outages, and low vibration during ascent and descent. These days, there is also a growing interest in hygiene and cleanliness specifications. As new models and technologies emerge, inspection items naturally change, so I actively conduct my own research by carrying out simulations. One of the interesting aspects of this job is that I am able to come into contact with new technologies over time
Mr. Umemura (at the background) attempting to open the control panel of a conventional type of elevator,
which is located in Field Services Training Center, to measure the insulation resistance,
during a legal inspection work competition in 2017.
Working with a purpose will lead to positive changes
– Which of Toshiba’s corporate values do you strongly believe?
One of the values that Toshiba Group upholds, “Look for a better way” is something I believe strongly. I always encouraged my new colleague to ask questions anytime and tell me what he believes is right during customer visits so that he can learn on the job. Instead of giving an immediate answer, my first response will often be, “Why do you think so?” before explaining further. This is my way of nurturing a habit in others to think more deeply and make sound decisions independently. Also,I get new insights from their fresh perspectives. Through a healthy exchange of ideas and information, we will be able to develop more effective solutions and make more intelligent decisions. The word “reform” may sound a bit exaggerated, but I think it is important to try to “Look for a better way” and accumulate such small changes in our daily work that will contribute to a positive impact to society.
– How do you envision Toshiba Elevator to be in the future?
Toshiba handles manufacturing, installation and service of elevators and escalators, and we are committed to drive connectivity and mobility for the urban environments of today. I would like Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems to become a global company that uses advanced technology to deliver safe, reliable and comfortable elevators and escalators to the world. Ideally, we would like people around the world to say, “Toshiba products are safe and reliable. To achieve this, proper maintenance and inspection work is indispensable, and I feel that I must take strong responsibility for the work I perform. I would like to continue to improve my technical skills in order to “Do the right thing” to ensure safety and security.