September 21, 2021
Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan delivers safe and secure Coca-Cola products from 17 plants operating in 38 prefectures. The “Voice of the Plant Manager Series” introduces the charm of each plant that plays a role in manufacturing function in an interview format. Continuing from the previous time, we have Watanabe Plant Manager who manages both Ebino Plant and Kumamoto Plant.
This time, he shares information on Kumamoto Plant in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture.
* Click here for the previous “Plant Manager Voice Series”
――Thank you for joining us again. This time, we would like to ask you more questions about your career and Kumamoto Plant. First, please tell us about Kumamoto Plant!
Hello everyone. I am Watanabe, Plant Manager of Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan, Ebino Plant and Kumamoto Plant.
Continuing on from the last interview, I would like to share information about our plants as the Plant Manager of both Ebino Plant and Kumamoto Plant!
Kumamoto Plant is located in a suburb of Kumamoto City, and has approximately 80 employees. Kumamoto Plant was struck by the Kumamoto Earthquakes in April 2016, and the production lines and warehouses were severely damaged, but as of today, the reconstruction projects have been completed. New automated facilities were built one after another in our compact site, and an automated warehouse for products started its operation in February 2020, and another automated warehouse for materials in July 2021. The plant has come better than ever.
Another attraction it has to offer is the panoramic view of the Aso landscape from the rooftop of the building. Gazing at a wonderful scenery is a great way to feel refreshed when you feel overwhelmed with work!
In March 2019, Kumamoto Plant began the production of “I LOHAS Tennensui” using natural water collected in the local Aso area. We deliver them mainly to the consumers in the Kyushu areas!
――Gazing at the view of Aso must be a great way to feel relaxed! Are there any other sightseeing spots around Kumamoto Plant?
About 7 km to the north from the plant, there is Kumamoto Castle, which is the symbol of Kumamoto City. Kumamoto Castle is one of the three most beautiful castles in Japan, and its beauty and grandeur are well worth a visit. Kumamoto Castle was severely damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquakes in 2016. It is holding a grand unveiling this year where you can see the damage caused by the earthquakes and the restoration in progress*.
* In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Kumamoto Castle Grand Unveiling is closed (temporarily) since August 2, 2021.
――We have questions about your career. —What did you find most challenging in your 28 years-long career?
That would be the experience I had when western Japan was hit by the torrential rains in 2018. Hongo Plant in Mihara City, Hiroshima Prefecture, where I was working as the head of Manufacturing Section that time, was struck by that disaster.
We cleaned up the scattered pallets and products with the help of many people, including the employees of the plant. It took about a year to demolish the production facilities that had become irreparable. I think it was the most challenging experience in my life, but taking part in the construction of new Hiroshima Plant in parallel with Hongo Plant has taught me a great lesson.
When the construction of new Hiroshima Plant was completed in 2020, I was very happy given the difficulties we have faced in the past.
Hongo Plant after the torrential rains in western Japan in 2019
Members who demolished production facilities
New Hiroshima Plant constructed in 2020 (Outside)
New Hiroshima Plant constructed in 2020 (Inside)
――Please tell us about the activities that you are currently focused on in Kumamoto Plant and Ebino Plant!
In addition to manufacturing safe and trustworthy products, which is one of our top priorities, we are committed to creating pleasant workplaces.
For example, we hold roundtable discussions with female employees as part of our efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the plants, which are still perceived as workplaces for men.
Since I have 2 plants to manage, I have twice as many team members reporting directly to me as other plant managers. Our strength is that we are able to get diverse opinions from team members with various backgrounds. We try to hold joint meetings remotely whenever possible so that information can be shared promptly. We are trying to manage teams as if we are all in the same plant.
I hope that we can continue to share positive news from our two plants in Kyushu going forward. Please look forward to it!
――Thank you, Watanabe Plant Manager, for joining us twice!
Please look forward to our next “Voice of the Plant Manager Voice Series”!