To provide quality products that exceed the expectations of our customers around the world, we strive to develop systems and human resources that can further enhance quality so that customers may use our products safely and well into the future.
The AISIN Group has advocated the philosophy of “Quality First” and believes that maintaining and enhancing quality forms the basis of our existence. In addition, we promote Total Quality Management (TQM) as a corporate activity to improve the constitution of the Group based on a “Customer First” mindset, in which everyone involved in work within the Group cooperates with each other to achieve management goals.
To reinforce our “Quality First” and “Customer First” philosophies, we held the first All AISIN TQM Conference in fiscal 2016 and shared top management’s commitment to TQM activities directly with participants. The AISIN Group continues to develop human resources capable of maintaining and improving quality standards throughout the Group.
A worldwide effort to put customers first
The AISIN Group shares information related to quality and deliberates on matters to be addressed at Group quality assurance meetings.
In order to continue delivering 100% non-defective products under a Customer First philosophy, Aisin Seiki has established the Global AISIN Customer First (A-CF) Committee. Under this committee, executive officers carry out assessments based on targets and action plans in individual areas – design, manufacturing, suppliers and the market – in order to determine the right direction for improvement measures. In fiscal 2016, in addition to the conventional quality improvements by function, we established a system to increase quality, cost and delivery (QCD) levels by product line under each product division. Through this system, we make collaborative efforts as a Group to improve the quality of respective products.
In an effort to establish a global quality assurance system, we are working to strengthen quality assurance in line with market expansion, revolving primarily around quality improvement committees in North America, China, Oceania, Europe, India and South America to strengthen quality assurance in line with market expansion. In North America and China, we have also launched a QA Center similar to the one in Japan, equipped with the necessary research and analytical capabilities. These centers serve as a base to make sustained improvements in quality and respond quickly to the needs of local customers and markets. In fiscal 2016, we established another QA Center in Thailand. These QA Centers are used by Group companies operating in respective regions, and they work together to share quality-related information in each region.
Enhancing the quality of products
through full employee participation
AISIN Group companies conduct QC circle activities that engage all personnel in each workplace, and activities to propose innovative improvement ideas for achieving higher product quality and work quality. We also promote human resources development through these activities.
These QC circle activities are now widespread throughout overseas Group companies, and the results of efforts are announced at the Global QC Circle Conference. In fiscal 2016, a total of 43 circles, or 200 employees, from 40 Group companies overseas and eight companies in Japan participated in the conference and were keen to report on their activities.
We also pour our efforts into activities proposing innovative improvements and remain at the highest level in terms of the number of awards for the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Awards recognizing outstanding examples of improvement.
Developing professionals in quality
The AISIN Group promotes the nurturing of quality professionals capable of using statistical quality control (SQC) methods in their work.
As part of these efforts, AISIN encourages employees throughout the Group to attain QC certification (levels 1-4) issued by the Japanese Standards Association. By the end of fiscal 2016, 26,091 employees had acquired the certification at the 12 main Group companies. We are also working to attain advanced knowledge related to quality and put it into practice through training in SQC methods and by promoting activities to resolve key issues and individual registration of quality-based themes, with briefing sessions held to announce the results of the activities.
Initiatives to ensure reliability
In testing and evaluating new products, the AISIN Group conducts surveys on how customers in different parts of the world use its various products and under what kind of conditions, in order to ensure safety and reliability in products.
In an effort to ensure the reliability of automotive parts from the standpoint of finished vehicles rather than individual components, we conduct repeated vehicle testing using test tracks designed to recreate various road conditions around the world, namely the Fujioka Proving Ground (Aichi Prefecture, Japan), Toyokoro Proving Ground (Hokkaido, Japan) and Fowlerville Proving Ground (Michigan, USA). In addition to testing and assessments at our facilities, we also conduct repeated tests locally in North America, South America, Europe, India and China based on stringent conditions that accurately reflect different natural environments and ways in which vehicles are used in different countries. This enables us to obtain unique knowledge and data, which we then incorporate into development and quality assurance. We also put the resulting expertise to good use in terms of recreating road conditions at our test tracks and raising the standard of assessments.
For lifestyle and energy related products, we evaluate performance using large-scale equipment such as an environmental chamber to assess resistance to sunlight, wind and rain, and humidity changes. This enables us to conduct tests to determine how products will perform in the actual market so that we can create products that are both safe and reliable.
Fowlerville Proving Ground (approximately 3,840,000m2)
Opened in 2005 to assist increasing local design and development activities.
It contributes to the assurance of reliability by evaluating products, such as drivetrains, brake systems and intelligent transport system (ITS) products, on actual vehicles.
Responding to customers
Through its Customer Support Department, Aisin Seiki strives to respond promptly, accurately and thoroughly to inquiries received from customers regarding its lifestyle related products, including sewing machines, beds and nursing care products. After completing the response process of each inquiry, details of a request for a better product or service are fed back to the relevant departments and are subsequently incorporated into new product development.
We also organize exhibitions twice a year to showcase quality initiatives to our own employees and employees from Group companies. At these exhibitions, we set up booths so that employees can listen to recorded complaints from customers, thereby providing an opportunity for employees to truly learn what our “Customer First” philosophy means.
Developing human resources and systems with a consumer-oriented perspective
At the AISIN Group, we maintain a consumer-oriented perspective and aim to develop human resources and systems that embody our commitment to protecting consumer rights.
In fulfilling our responsibilities as a manufacturer, Aisin Seiki’s Customer Support Department provides internal education for employees responsible for creating product manuals, as well as product catalogs and other documents used as sales promotion tools, and performs a check and review of text in these documents. Moreover, we have augmented our system of proofreading by native speakers in order to ensure more appropriate phrasing matched to the culture and customs of a specific country or region. In fiscal 2016, we conducted an on-the-spot check on how product manuals and documents for sales promotion used in North America are proofread by native English speakers.
We also encourage employees to obtain certification as Advisory Specialists for Consumer Affairs, with the aim of developing more human resources capable of promoting our Customer First approach and incorporating consumer perspectives into their work. We currently have 28 certified employees.