‘Takumi’ and Meister designations

Takumi and Meisters

At Canon, the terms Takumi and Meister are used to denote people with outstanding skills and experience in particular areas of expertise who have been identified as potential monozukuri leaders in the workplace. A Takumi is a person with exceptional skills and experience who performs a certain task or tasks at a much higher level than all others, while a Meister is a multi-skilled worker with a broad range of skills and knowledge across multiple processes. As we increasingly move toward automation of production processes, it is the Takumi and Meisters who will guide the future direction of monozukuri at Canon.

Takumi demonstrate exceptional skills

A lens polishing Takumi (Utsunomiya Optical Devices Plant)

Takumi system

The Takumi system aims to enhance technical skills and capacity in the workplace by identifying highly experienced staff who can pass on their skills and knowledge of the Canon monozukuri way to the next generation of workers.

The Canon Takumi designation is awarded to workers who demonstrate outstanding skills in fields of expertise that require exceptional talent, such as milling, lathe working, grinding, lens polishing, coating and welding. In addition to their technical skills, Takumi are expected to demonstrate leadership, teamwork skills and consideration for others in the workplace.

Skill area Description
Milling Manipulate rotating milling cutter and end middle cutting tools on a milling machine (machine tool) to create surfaces, grooves and other pieces from square and rectangular materials with a high degree of precision
Lathe working Manipulate lathe bit (cutting tool) on a lathe (machine tool) to create rounded shapes and holes in rotating cylindrical work pieces with a high degree of precision
Grinding Use the high-speed rotating grindstone on a grinder (machine tool) to grind workpiece surfaces (which may be metal or other materials) with a high degree of precision
Lens polishing Manipulate a grinding dish with rotating and sliding motions to polish camera lenses to the required shape at the required level of precision
Coating Prepare coating formulations tailored to a range of different materials (typically metals and plastics) and apply evenly and uniformly to workpieces
Welding Apply heat to joints between multiple workpieces (typically metal) to create a secure bond

Key technical transfer skills at Canon

What it takes to be a Takumi

A Canon Takumi someone who:

  • demonstrates outstanding skills and capabilities in a particular area of Canon monozukuri well beyond others
  • has the capacity to pass on those skills and capabilities to others.

“Outstanding skills and capabilities” refers to the ability to work quickly and efficiently with a high degree of precision, combining human sensibilities and intuition with a deep understanding of machinery operation and performance.

For example, a Takumi in metalworking will be able to transform metal pieces into complex shapes at a level of precision on the order of microns (one-thousandth of a millimeter) or even sub-microns (one ten-thousandth of a millimeter). The Takumi will also hold qualifications or accreditation at Level 1 or equivalent under the relevant national accreditation scheme or accreditation at the prefectural level that recognizes outstanding achievement in their field. This illustrates the extremely stringent minimum standards for designation as a Takumi at Canon.

Takumi frequently hold accreditation or certification at the national level. Many are recipients of the Contemporary Takumi (Outstanding Technical Skills) award from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour, or the Medal with Yellow Ribbon award recognizing exemplars of outstanding technical skill and diligence in their industry.

Canon Takumi classifications

Takumi duties and responsibilities

As a highly skilled craftsman and an exemplar of character and leadership, the Takumi has three main duties and responsibilities:

  • To use their outstanding craftsmanship and technical skills to contribute to the ongoing evolution and development of monozukuri at Canon
  • To pass on their skills and knowledge to others
  • To set an example in the workplace by furthering enhancing their skills and capabilities through self-directed training and study.

Passing on skills is a particularly important role of the Takumi, who is expected to be a good leader in supporting the growth and development of those who follow. It is not enough to only display outstanding technical skills; the Canon Takumi must also provide guidance and leadership.

A Canon Takumi passing on skills to Class A technicians (Utsunomiya Optical Devices Plant)

A Canon Takumi can nominate an employee with Class A technical skills (as per the Canon classification scheme) as their mentee, and will then work closely with the mentee to pass on their skills.

Canon Meisters have extensive skills across multiple processes

Class S Meister inspects an interchangeable lens production line (Utsunomiya Plant)

What is a Canon Meister?

For most Canon products, production involves a succession of complex manufacturing processes. At Canon, a Meister (German for “master”) is a multi-skilled worker who has advanced expertise across multiple processes that can be harnessed to improve overall productivity.

The Canon Meister designation recognizes workers who complete their tasks quickly and efficiently and display a high level of specialized expertise in multiple processes, and who use their skills and expertise to make significant contributions to monozukuri.

Meister classification system

A Meister is either a Group Meister (Class S and Class 1) at the wider Canon Group level or a Local Meister at a specific production facility.

A Local Meister can progress to Group Meister Class 1 status and thence to the top level of Group Meister Class S.

Meister classification system

Class 1 and Class S Group Meister designations are assessed by the in-house Canon Group Expert Awards Committee.

For example, there is a Class S Group Meister (the highest Meister level) in the area of product assembly who knows every one of the 3,000 + parts that go into an office printer and can assemble the finished product without any assistance. Similarly, there is a Class S Group Meister in automated assembly who can coordinate over 60 different procedures and machines and even adjust and repair equipment as needed.

The coveted Class S designation is awarded to only one or two individuals each year. As such, it is a source of great pride in the workplace as well as inspiration for aspiring engineers and technicians.

Class S Meister for automatic assembly (Fukushima Canon)

The role of the Meister

Canon Meisters are expected to make a significant contribution not just to ongoing production operations but to the evolution of monozukuri in the wider sense.

Part of their role is to utilize their expertise in identifying equipment faults, designing optimized production processes and suggesting innovative ways to simplify tasks and procedures.

Meisters are also expected to contribute to overall process improvement. In particular they utilize their experience and expertise to determine the causes of equipment faults and failures, devising preventative solutions for the future, reviewing design and development processes and providing valuable feedback and insights.

Training and mentoring of future talent is another important role. Canon Meisters are actively involved in nurturing the next generation of multi-skilled technicians, primarily by designing training courses and monitoring ongoing progress and development.

Class S Meister providing advice in the assembly workplace (Utsunomiya Plant)

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