Case Studies

TPM Age: Fuji Oil Company Ltd. Sodegaura Refinery

TPM - Advancing Rapidly and Visibly!


Location: Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture
Site area: 1,182,000 m2
Headcount: 345
Year established: 1968
Principal Products: Fuel oils (gasoline, paraffin, diesel, heavy fuel oil, etc.), petrochemical feedstocks (benzene, mixed xylenes, etc.), liquefied petroleum gas, bitumen, etc.

Fuji Oil's Sodegaura Refinery introduced TPM in the year 2000 and is now pushing its TPM Level III programme forward under the vision of becoming 'one of Japan's top 5 oil refineries, with originality, independence and a high level of international competitiveness'.
Although this state of affairs is amply demonstrated by the richness of the plant's activity boards, what is particularly outstanding is the large number of visualisation ideas in use. At times severe, at times gentle, the refinery's passion for continuous improvement is obvious.

Skills are visible! No.2 Production Group, Second Shift


The No.2 Production Group's second-shift team photographed here is responsible for operating a total of twelve units, including the FCC unit and the Eureka unit. As well as conducting activities designed to enhance safety and reduce cost, they are working hard to develop their human resources by delivering training programmes designed to integrate departments by enabling operators to operate other units; separate trainings for the various work areas and control rooms; and level-specific trainings designed to raise everyone's skills. The team members are (front row, from left) Noriaki Hanahara, Hajime Ito, Yuzo Takatani and Shift Leader Takeshi Yamamoto; (middle row, from left) Kei Katsumi, Kiyohiro Kudo, Katsumi Shoji, Shinji Nishizaki and Takeshi Sakuma; and (back row, from left) Jun-ichi Maekawa, Jun-ichi Takahashi, Takayuki Shindo, Yuki Nishimura and Ryuji Hirai.

Case_fujioil_02_small.pngThe progress of the various trainings is shown on the activity board and is updated at six-monthly intervals. Does this put the team under pressure? No, it spurs them on.

Near-Misses Made Visible! No.3 Production Group, Second Shift

Case_fujioil_03.pngThe No.3 Production Group's second-shift team shown in this photograph is responsible for managing the plant's boilers and other utilities and bringing the products in and out. Because they work so often with subcontractors, their safety programme focuses on sharing safety information including near-miss locations. The team members are (front row, from left) Isamu Sato, Shift Leader Masayoshi Horie, Michiyoshi Takano, and Shota Sakuma; (middle row, from left) Takashi Takeda, Takeshi Yamaguchi, Shunsuke Tsunoda and Section Manager Toshiaki Takahashi; and (back row, from left) Hitoshi Ejiri, Manager Eiji Takahashi, Takeshi Ota, and Koichi Suzuki.


A news bulletin specialising in near-misses is also published four times a year with the aim of sharing information with subcontractors. Loaded with illustrations and photographs, it is very clearly laid out and easy to understand.


Near-miss locations are marked out to draw people's attention.

Work Manuals Made Visible! Testing Section

Case_fujioil_07.png This photo shows the Testing Section team, which carries out tests on the refinery's products. They are striving to improve the work manuals in order to help the many temporary staff ('partners') who work in this department. In the photograph are (front row, from left) Section Manager Kazumi Suzuki, Masami Isobe, Hisashi Horikawa, and Toshihito Nakamura; and (back row, from left) Wataru Sasaoka, Tatsuhiko Suzuki, Yasuaki Okuyama, Shigeyoshi Onoda and Tadashi Iwamoto.

The team is creating a 'manual that needs no words' for each task, using plenty of photographs of the work, and has so far completed 68 of the 83 required.
The work manuals used to be thick books, full of words but no illustrations...

With the new manuals, even temporary staff find complicated jobs easy.

The manuals even contain computer screenshots, and everyone praises them as being very easy to use.


Section Manager Masayuki Furukawa (left), Office Manager Toshio Oyama (centre), and Role Manager Yoshi Sato (right) of the TPM Office are the ones who wield the conductor's baton for the TPM programme. Incidentally, Mr Oyama was honoured with a TPM Senryu* Prize this year with the lines ('I thought too hard / about developing people/now I've too many children'). (*A 'senryu' is a humorous or ironical haiku poem.)

Karakuri Invention!

(A device for testing the smoke point of paraffin)


The Testing Section came up with an amazing 'karakuri' (ingenious contrivance)! They made it from string and scrap wood, and called it 'Toshinbo' ('Wick Boy'). Its development cost was zero!. Each idea on its own may be nothing spectacular, but all these little ideas together support a huge refinery as big as 25 Tokyo Domes.


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