Teshima Is Making Innovation Happen by Merging the Essence of Craftsmanship with the Genius of Big Data.
For 43 years, the Teshima Corporation has been an industry leader in manufacturing high precision stainless steel tubes with a special focus on tubes for medical needles. For the past four decades Teshima has responded to the unique needs of its customers while keeping up with innovations in the metallurgic sciences. The company always aims to create products that are finer, slimmer and smoother. Teshima operates under the ethos that, “saying no is not an option.” The company is headed by CEO, Ms. Yukiko Teshima, a straight forward leader who is equally interested in innovation and business. According to Ms. Teshima, “another key to our company’s success and longevity is the premium we put on staff development.” Ms. Teshima invests a lot in her people and she sees a direct causal link between staff development and business expansion. The company currently produces four-hundred types of high precision stainless steel tubes each month with a total capability of producing over 5000 different types of products. Teshima has recently branched out of creating medical supplies and now produces products for biomedical research and manufacturing.
Think Big! Think Global! Bend Steel!
Teshima has manufactured stainless steel tubes for medical needles since its founding in 1972. “We often go out into the field and speak with professionals on the frontlines of medicine, said Ms. Teshima, adding, “that’s where our design ideas come from.” The CEO told Protechnology Japan that they have developed a needle that has very high pricking accuracy and that is painless for patients. “We have gotten so much good feedback from doctors about our needles,” said the CEO. Teshima’s hypodermic needles feature fine mirror surface texture that prevents damage to leukocytes (white blood cells); making them invaluable for phlebotomy labs. Since its early days, Teshima Corp. has always used stainless steel that adheres to ISO9626 standards, the gold standard for medical needle production. Through constantly improving their unique processing technology, Teshima Corp. has established a global position in the niche market for stainless steel tubes for medical needles.
The year 2002 was a turning point for Teshima Corp. That was the year the current CEO joined the firm as a factory worker who rose her way up the ranks to become the company head in 2013. Today Ms. Teshima leads the company, satisfying existing customers needs while keeping an eye towards expanding to become a more global enterprise. Ms. Teshima spent ten years in the United States studying business, earning an MBA in the process.
Ms. Teshima told us that she has added to what the company’s last CEO developed, “my predecessor and I shared the heart of a craftsman, but I bring managerial science and business training to the craftsman’s workshop.” Ms. Teshima told Protechnology Japan that, “craftsmanship needs to meet big data for small to medium size companies to thrive in the competitive global market.” According to Ms. Teshima, “the modern day CEO has to wear many hats; craftsman, data miner while being innovative and creative,” she reflected, saying, “it’s a kind of alchemy, staying edgy and competitive is a process and it’s not always a linear process, but if you commit to the process something magic happens.” And keeping a small size manufacturing company competitive in the Japanese domestic and global markets alike is definitely something magical. “We call this Teshima Magic,” the CEO remarked.
Ms. Teshima made changes to the company as soon as she assumed the role of CEO by implementing a completely original production management system. “I also saw to it that we obtain ISO9001/2008 certification,” said Ms. Teshima. Certification according to Ms. Teshima is vital to staying competitive in the international markets, but it is sometimes overlooked by companies that produce primarily for the Japanese market alone. According to the CEO, “certification is expensive and requires a great deal of time and resources, but if you want to sell directly to foreign businesses it’s a must.”
The young CEO promoted managerial accountability and compiled a database of manufacturing best practices to stream line her company’s training and staff development. That same year, the company launched a new plant with state of the art equipment and production lines (scheduled to obtain ISO14000 certification), expanding its ability to handle the increasing number of international orders.
Within a few weeks of starting at the company Ms. Teshima brought her company together and told them that she was launching a new initiative to prove to the world that Teshima does have the ability to make magic happen. She challenged her staff saying, “blow me away with your innovations in steel bending,” Ms. Teshima smiled as she recalled that meeting. The employees we encouraged to be super men and women and create to their hearts’ desire. “I gave them free reign,” said Ms. Teshima, adding, “because I knew the team and trusted them, so I took off my big data thinking cap, rolled up my sleeves and showed that I was also a craftswoman at heart.”
Company employees worked as a team to create a system to more proactively advance development. One example is the new way the company approached plasticity the manufacturing process. “Plasticity processing relies heavily on craftsmanship—humidity and temperature are often changing, and it takes intuition,” says Teshima. “But digitization can handle some elements of it. It is important to make sure you are eliminating and keeping the right elements to be performed by craftsmen,” she added. This approach has enable Teshima Corp. to build a system that both supplements and solidifies the inherent skills of its workers, while providing higher precision, higher quality stainless steel tubes.
The Whole Shebang: Ultrafine Structure, Extensive Product Line, Supreme Technological Strength, Small Lot Production Capabilities and Rapid Delivery.
Teshima’s ultrafine stainless steel tubes are the result of many years of accumulated technical skill. Protechnology Japan noticed that Teshima’s team are similar to that of other Japanese manufacturers in that they accept design challenges, spend countless hours of their personal time innovating and improving on products and are highly committed to developing new products. Our reporter mentioned this to Ms. Teshima. The CEO agreed and said that the qualities the reporter was describing were very typically Japanese. “What makes my approach different than that of other companies is that I step in at one point in the creative process and tell my engineers and craftsmen, here is how you can use digitization and a quantitative approach to streamline your design ideas.” Ms. Teshima told us that is how she is able to fast-forward innovation.
Currently the Teshima Corp. is working on introducing innovations to medical needle manufacturing. Medical needles require especially high precision as people’s lives are literally at stake in the needle manufacturing business. The slimmest stainless steel tube Teshima currently manufactures is the 35-gauge needle. The needle has a thickness of 0.0381mm, outer diameter of 0.127mm, inner diameter of 0.0508mm, and is finished with an S-grade, Ra0.05 mirror surface. Ms. Teshima explained, “From the beginning of development to completion it took a total of one year. And the system for mass production is completely internal.”
Beyond needles demand for catheters has increased in the past several years. Standards for needles and catheters have steadily evolved along with the development of medical treatment. Teshima Corp. takes on all such challenges, meeting the constant demand for finer, thinner tubes. The company also produces parts for devices used in medical specialties as diverse as neurology and dentistry. Teshima Corp. also successfully developed an ultrafine stainless steel tube with an outer diameter of 0.18mm and an inner diameter of 0.07±0.002mm, which can be applied to a wide variety of medical needs.
“If I Were Stainless Steel, I’d Want to Be A Teshima Tube.” –Anonymous Gypsy Artist (San Francisco, California)
Demand for stainless steel tubes is not limited to the medical field, but is present in nearly all fields. The stainless steel materials used by Teshima are 100% made in Japan with a focus on high-grade SAE 304 stainless steel. Regulated by ISO9626 standards, it remains solid even when taking switching cost into account. Many variations of tube treatment are also performed, including swaging, drilling, flaring, machining, grooving, marking, joining, torsion, and flexing. This allows Teshima to handle orders not only from the medical industry, but has led it to expand into a diverse array of industries, including the production of temperature sensors and heat exchangers for manufacturing, measuring instruments for the biotech field, custom made components for auto parts. “We even made chocolate nozzles and wine openers for the food and beverage industry,” said the company CEO with a smile.
“Part of that Teshima Magic I told you about is staying flexible enough to produce small lots for clients in a diverse number of fields while remaining competitive with manufacturers from other countries in the region,” said the CEO. There are 10 processes in the manufacturing of stainless steel tubes, but Teshima remains non-automated to preserve their flexibility to produce small lots. President Teshima brims with confidence, declaring, “We can produce any kind of ultrafine stainless steel tube from a single meter-long rod, and deliver the goods quickly. Our system for handling small lot orders is set up perfectly.”
To See The Future Through A Steel Tube.
Despite the company’s recent diversification the CEO choses to focus her efforts on innovating new products for the medical field, its traditional core business. The CEO told our reporter that she is focusing on new areas of the life science field and keeps abreast of advances in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. “Rather than treating illnesses after they occur, the medical industry and those fields affiliated with it are focusing on preventing illnesses before they start,” the CEO explained. Ms. Teshima gave our reporter an example that is at the core of her company’s research and development efforts, “because our blood contains a wide range of information concerning our general health, it is likely that we will soon see devices with which we can test our own blood on a daily basis. So it would be great if our company could play a role in BtoC health measuring instruments and similar devices.”
Ms. Teshima asked us to tell our readers to extend an invitation to experience Teshima Magic first hand by visiting the Teshima factory. “Next time your readers are in Tokyo they should take the train up and visit us.” She invites any interested party from any industry to bring their design challenges to her and she guarantees that she will manufacture according to their needs. “When we meet with clients and talk about their pressing design challenges we do so as craftsmen,” said Ms. Teshima, adding, “and when we give them the numbers and show them that we can create highly customized products at reasonable costs we prove to them that we are serious about business.” With that Ms. Teshima thanked us for taking the time to visit her factory and saw us to our car. She whisked her way back to the factory floor to commandeer the corporation. While it’s impossible to see the future, but for Teshima, it’s clear that it shines as bright as high polished steel glistening under the lights of the factory floor.
Company Name: Teshima Corporation
Business Description: Manufacturing Hypodermic Stainless Steel Tube Headquarters: Shimosagawada-cho Tatebaya-city, Gunma 306-1 Japan President & CEO: Yukiko Teshima