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Overseas visit will help development agency understand “best practice”

UK researchers are to visit Japan on a fact-finding mission to better understand preventative practice for an ageing workforce, lack of raw materials and high wages.

Specialist engineers from the North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA) will visit Japanese car giants Honda, Nissan and Toyota in order to learn more about their manufacturing techniques and “models of best practice”. And in a separate trip, Regional Development Agency One NorthEast will showcase the regions “world-class strengths” to senior Japanese scientists.

David Allison, Director of Business and Industry at One NorthEast, said: “The North East’s links with Japan are already extensive, with the region home to some 50 investors employing around 10,000 people and producing a turnover in excess of £2.7bn. The next step is to help more of our businesses break into the lucrative Japanese market. The benefits of them achieving this are enormous”.

According to One NorthEast, Japan suffers from similar manufacturing problems as those of the UK; an ageing workforce, lack of raw materials resulting in a dependence on imports, energy supply costs and high wage costs.

“During the NEPA trip, engineers will be visiting eleven world-class manufacturers, to learn more about their successful methods of working and their impressive models of best practice. It really is a fantastic opportunity”, Mr Allison continued.

Colin Herron, Head of NEPA’s Best Practice Team, commented on the visit: “The aim of the trip is to see what methods these companies use which make them as successful and competitive as they are. There will also be time to observe how the daily life of Japan reflects their behaviour at work”.

“We”ve already shown that our companies can really benefit from incorporating the Japanese way of working, but this trip will hopefully help regional bosses gain a greater understanding of the tools and techniques, and how they are applied in their country of origin”, he added.

Vijay Pattni.

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