Quality Activities

Basic Approach

Guided by the Corporate Philosophy, which puts customers first, the NGK Group considers the provision of products and services that contribute to a better social environment to be one of its most important missions in attempting to create quality from the customer’s perspective.
The NGK Group engages in the creation of quality from the customer’s perspective by defining Quality Objectives each year in accordance with the Quality Policy based on the NGK Group Code of Conduct.

Results of Initiatives in FY2021

NGK has been implementing quality of operation*1 improvement initiatives since FY2018.
In FY2021, we established an activity framework for each business group and conducted study sessions and patrols to collect opinions from the workplace. The goal of these efforts was to have each person in the workplace strive autonomously to improve the quality of their work. While we were able to put this framework in order, worksites and Group companies did point out problems related to the activities, and we confirmed that there were gaps in understanding.

1 Quality of operation: Level of operational systems that are in place to ensure that promises made to customers are fulfilled.

Initiatives Planned for FY2022

In FY2022 we continue working to put autonomous activities in the workplace on track. To that end, we maintain the same quality objectives as last year. We are promoting activities to ensure communication between organizations so that all members at worksites and Group companies can understand quality compliance.
Concerning product quality, we continue to promote QRE-P*2 and are working to eliminate quality risks in the market. And we are particularly focused on initiatives that get business groups to analyze their own problems and revise their work.

2 QRE-P (Quality Risk Elimination Process): An operational protocol intended to more effectively eliminate quality-related risks at every stage when bringing products to market, from product planning to mass production.

Quality Activity System

The NGK quality activity system consists of a company-wide system, led by the Quality Committee Chair, and business group internal activity systems, led by the heads of each business group. In terms of company-wide activities, the Quality Committee was established to function as a deliberative body assisting the Quality Committee Chair, while business group internal activity systems were put in place for each business division, creating appropriate quality systems for each. Quality assurance, quality control, quality improvements, and quality education activities are promoted by the acquisition of ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 certification.
Each Business Group maintains a point of contact with customers, and works to further increase customer satisfaction by reflecting customer demands and things learned from quality problems in the market in our products and services.
In FY2021, we began quality management training for those working in sales and engineering jobs that bring them into contact with customers. This training conveyed the importance of quality of operation in honoring our contracts with customers. We also promote lively communication with partners and are actively collecting information on issues faced by partners as we provide guidance on quality improvements.

Quality Activity System

This diagram shows our quality activities. It broadly divides activities into company-wide activities led by the Quality Committee and activities conducted by each Business Group.

Acquisition of ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 Certification

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020 FY2021
Percentage of ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 certified sites (%, Group) 97 97 97 100 100

NGK and the all Business Group production sites, supporting functions, and locations at Group companies in and outside Japan have acquired ISO9001 or IATF 16949 certification.

Quality Risk Management

Four Rules for Quality Activities

The NGK Group promotes restructuring of its quality activities to respond more precisely to increasing and diversifying quality demands from customers in different target markets.
We have formulated these quality activity rules particularly to enhance the elimination of quality risks in the market, and are promoting their adoption and improved effectiveness.

Seeking Greater Effectiveness from Quality Activities and Innovation in Operational Procedures

We have been promoting Quality Risk Elimination Process (QRE-P) activities throughout the NGK Group. Through these activities, we can identify procedural innovations in product realization in order to eliminate risk while improving quality. Since the start of QRE-P activities in FY2017, we have worked to incorporate the QRE-P concept into quality system in each business group, and also have provided practical training so that the person in charge can put QRE-P in practice, using development projects as examples.
In FY2021, we focused on weaknesses in the quality system in each business group and began efforts to incorporate the QRE-P concept into each business group’s quality system in order to more effectively promote attempts to achieve autonomous operation begun in FY2020. Particularly when problems occurred in the market, instead of merely implementing technical countermeasures, we got together with the business group and analyzed what parts of the work process were lacking. We then focused on incorporating improvements into our system to prevent issues before they occur.
In FY2022, we plan to focus on weaknesses in the quality system in each business group, promote greater incorporation of the QRE-P concept into the quality system of each business group, and strengthen our expansion of the implementation of QRE-P activities to Group companies.

Activities to Strengthen DR Functions

The increasing and diversifying quality demands from customers call for the integration of knowledge among various members throughout the development process, not only from the design division but also from the manufacturing and production engineering divisions. For this reason, the NGK Group considers the Design Review (DR) to be the most critical activity. DRs are conducted when development milestones are reached or when production processes change. Critical DRs are conducted by reviewers from throughout the company to support the elimination of quality risks.
The DR Guidelines were created to promote DR discussions and to thoroughly eliminate quality risks. We are constantly enhancing the effectiveness of DRs through efforts to spread these guidelines company-wide, including awareness and review of each DR.
Furthermore, NGK organizes a company-wide DR (quality review meeting) for quality issues that are difficult to solve by one division. At this meeting, relevant engineers and experts from across the company discuss broad aspects of issues related to the reliability and safety of products.
We are also deploying the above-mentioned QRE-P approach to facilitate improvement of design level at the pre-DR period as well as to ensure the more effective utilization of organizational knowledge and experience from DRs.

This flowchart shows the flow of DR activities. Designers consider the design of products and processes based on DR Guidelines, conduct deliberation and discussion during the DR, and eliminate quality risks.

Quality Activities at Production Bases Outside Japan

From their inception, production bases outside Japan have created quality systems appropriate to their situations and acquired ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 certification.
Monthly reports from each base regarding customer complaints and the status of manufacturing quality are discussed at Quality Activity Meetings, enabling the entire NGK Group to evaluate the quality status in a timely manner. Moreover, quality activity rules and annual quality objectives are distributed group-wide in an attempt to develop and enhance quality activities.

Acquisition of ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 Certification

QuiC Activities to Improve Quality with Full Employee Participation

Since 2003, the NGK Group has held QuiC (Quality up innovation Challenge) quality improvement activities in which all employees participate. These activities consist of quality improvement activities by small groups or individuals and suggestions that strive to enhance the quality of production; best practices are then shared by the entire NGK Group. Every July, NGK holds a company-wide contest at its headquarters to highlight examples of outstanding improvement activities with the intent of horizontal expansion throughout the company.
In August of FY2021, we held the Company-wide QuiC Activities Contest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was our first time in two years to hold the event, and we held both physical and online versions concurrently. In November we held the NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges! best practices presentation. NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges! provides a company-wide forum for laterally sharing reform examples and model initiatives in order to boost employee motivation and invigorate the workplace. This was our second time to hold the event, following its inaugural run last fiscal year.
In FY2022, two events will be held; one is a company-wide contest focused on sharing manufacturing division best practices in July, and another is an NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges! event to share innovations and best practices implemented within the NGK Group in October.

Suggestion Activity Participation Rate

FY2019 FY2020 FY2021
Manufacturing Division 98% 93% 82%
Non-manufacturing divisions 85% 83% 71%
Clerical divisions 60% 50% 25%
Number of suggestions Approx. 29,000 Approx. 19,000 Approx. 16,400
This is a photo of the Company-wide QuiC Activities Contest.
Company-wide QuiC Activities Contest
This photo introduces our QuiC activities. We held the NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges! best practices presentation in an online format.
NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges! best practices presentation held online

Sending Award Recipients and Outstanding Proposal Commendation Recipients to Training in and outside Japan

Training at a Group Companies Outside Japan

Normally, Outstanding Proposal Commendation recipients and Grand Prize recipients visit Group companies outside Japan at the end of October through early November. However, in FY2021, as in FY2020, this overseas visit was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We intend to resume these best practice overseas promotion activities once the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained.

Training in Japan

Every year, in late December, the Outstanding Proposal Commendation recipients and QuiC Excellence Award and Special Award recipients visited Okinawa to attend a nationwide QC Circle Conference and participate in discussion sessions about various topics, such as differences between NGK and other companies. However, in FY2021 this was again canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it was the year before.
We intend to resume these best practice promotion activities in Japan once the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained.

Strengthening Quality-Related Education

The NGK Group aims to provide customers with product quality that exceeds expectations. Hence, we are continually working to improve the quality-related education that is given to all employees in order to ensure they are equipped with quality-related skills and greater quality-related awareness.
We place the greatest emphasis on practical training tied directly to each employee’s job duties and Quality Management System (QMS) training aimed at promoting systemic improvement in operations. So, we conduct long-term individual training which lasts for six months. Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the following training was able to be provided via online delivery and video streaming, COVID-safe classroom instruction, or some combination thereof.

Quality-Related Education in FY2021

Training name Number of participants Objectives and key characteristics
Quality Control Training
(young NGK employees)
Lecture: 192 participants
Individual instruction: 185 participants
  • Understand the basics of problem solving and quality control
  • Skills development through individual instruction on the theme of operational challenges
  • Support in conjunction with participants’ supervisor
SQC (Statistical Quality Control) Methods Training (those interested/including NGK Group) A total of 452 participants
  • Learn SQC methods
  • Changed traditional face-to-face sessions to e-learning for each method
  • Comprised a total of 14 lectures, with two lectures added for frequently asked about methods
  • All lectures were open and free to attend
Reliability Basics Training (those interested/including NGK Group) Reliability Basics Training 1: 94 participants
  • Learn about design reliability, the physics of failure, and methods of analyzing reliability data
Reliability Basics Training 2: 134 participants
  • Learn methods of prevention, QFD, FTA, FMEA, and Design Review (DR)
  • Skills development through discovering problems lurking in points of change and problem solving discussion
  • Understand NGK’s DR and QRE-P
Study of Failure and Methodology of Creation (those interested/including NGK Group) Lecture: 30 participants
Seminar: 9 participants
Shared failure example analysis session: 42 participants
  • Improve analytical and developmental skills through lectures and seminars
  • Expand shared analysis of failure examples company-wide
QMS Training (those interested/including NGK Group) ISO/IATF standards interpretation: 740 participants
  • Understand the intent and requirements of standards
  • Session demand accommodated via face-to-face + online (simultaneous streaming) sessions
ISO/IATF Internal Quality Auditor training: 119 participants
  • Internal quality auditor training and accreditation
Auditing Skills Development: 18 participants
  • Understand relationship between process auditing-based QMS effectiveness enhancement and quality compliance
  • Practical training exercises performed within a seminar setting
VDA 6.3 Process Auditing Seminar: 52 participants
  • Understand process auditing requirements for VDA standards

92 Employees Pass Self-Maintenance Expert Test (Grade 1: 32 Employees, Grade 2: 60 Employees)

With the aim of achieving a higher standard for maintenance activities and of improving productivity, a number of NGK Group employees in FY2021 took on the challenge of the Self-Maintenance Expert Test (Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance). This qualification is given to those who possess a broad range of necessary knowledge and skills concerning quality management, safety, and machinery maintenance, and are recognized as having the ability to plan and implement voluntary maintenance activities and provide instruction.
The NGK Group will continue encouraging employees to take the Self-Maintenance Expert Test as well as cultivate voluntary maintenance activities and stimulate greater employee motivation.

Number of Employees Who Passed

Company name No. of Level 1 examinees No. of employees who passed Level 1 (pass rate) No. of Level 2 examinees No. of employees who passed Level 2 (pass rate)
NGK 34 22 (65%) 34 27 (79%)
NGK Ceramic Device 6 6 (100%) 46 33 (72%)
NGK Electronics Devices 8 4 (50%) - -