At Gigafactory, Workers From Japan Teach Americans To Make Batteries

Aug 21, 2018

In recent years, companies around the country have complained that many American workers lack the skills needed to operate in manufacturing. As KUNR’s Tim Lenard reports, battery-maker Panasonic is bringing over specialists from their factories in Japan in order to train new workers at the Gigafactory outside Reno.

Tomoatsu Kato moved to Reno from Osaka, Japan last November. He says one of the biggest differences between the two cultures is how Japanese and American workers talk about their skill level. 

“People in Japan, even though they are really excellent they say, ‘I’m so-so or something,’” Says Kato. “But sometimes here we thought he or she can do it, but when we ask them to let's say they know the knowledge but don’t know how to do it.”

Tatsuya Hada is a liaison between the Gigafactory and Panasonic Japan. While people in the US are often told to ‘fake it until you make it,’ he says in Japan people are taught a different mantra: 

“Skilled eagles hide their nails,” says Hada.

While cultural barriers like this have been challenging to overcome, Hada says the American workers have been very friendly to their Japanese mentors.

“They are even like communicating at the site with like a combination of Japanese of English. Hearing that really makes me feel like somehow, happy.”

According to Reuters, Panasonic’s $1.6 Billion investment in the Gigafactory is almost complete. However, the company’s chief of automotive business, Yoshito Ito, said they would, “consider additional investment if we are requested to do so.”