Sustainability

Quality Activity

Quality Activity System

The NGK quality activity system consists of a company-wide system, led by the Quality Committee Chair, and business division internal activity systems, led by the heads of each business division. In terms of company-wide activities, the Quality Committee was established to function as a deliberative body assisting the Quality Committee Chair, while business division internal activity systems were put in place for each business line, 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.
Starting in fiscal 2018, we have sought to address non-conformity issues in the delivery tests by codifying standardized rules that will further strengthen our quality compliance. In addition we have expanded quality-focused activities for “quality of operation” as well as “product quality”.
In fiscal 2020, we made improvements to the business division internal activity systems, including those of Group companies, and clarified the positioning of quality assurance departments for Group companies.
Moving forward, we will undertake business division internal rule improvements and pursue systematic activities that include Group companies.

Quality Activity System

The quality activity system can be roughly divided into two systems: a group-wide system centered on the Quality Committee, and business division internal activity systems carried out by each business division.

Acquisition of ISO 9001 or IATF 16949 Certification

FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Percentage of ISO 9001 certified sites (%, Group) 100 97 97 97 100

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. In particular, quality activity rules have been formulated to enhance the elimination of quality risks in the market; we are promoting the establishment and improved effectiveness of the rules.

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 fiscal 2017, we have worked to have the QRE-P concept incorporated into divisions’ rules, and also have provided practical training so that the person in charge can put QRE-P in practice, using development projects as examples.
In fiscal 2020, in addition to continuing practical training, we started the autonomous operation of QRE-P with the aim of instilling the concept of QRE-P not only in the person in charge but also in the whole division. First, we singled out focused divisions for this activity, worked together with the quality assurance departments in those divisions to come up with the best plan for the operation, and then began activities tailored to each division and product.
In order to bolster quality risk elimination and product value enhancement, we will continue encouraging autonomous operation of QRE-P at the division level for our core products, as well as support expanded implementation of QRE-P activities to Group companies within Japan and overseas.

Activities to Strengthen DR Functions

The increasing and diversifying quality demands from customers call for the integration of knowledge among various members, not only from the design division but also from the manufacturing and production engineering divisions, throughout the development process. 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.

Flow of DR activities. Based on the DR (design review) guidelines, the designer carefully studies the design of products and processes, discusses and deliberates at the DR site, and eliminates product 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 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 fiscal 2020, we trialed “NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges!” as a new, online format for presentation of best practices. During this inaugural NGK-BOX event, various innovations and best practices being implemented within the NGK Group were shared with the aim of promoting Group-wide adoption. By showcasing the best practices of each division and engaging in opinion exchange with the presenters, we seek to cultivate a mind to challenge change.
A total of 11 groups, including two groups representing Group companies in Japan, presented the results of various activities aimed at improving operational efficiency, pursuing essential value, fostering a shared philosophy, reforming organizational culture, and much more. A total of around 500 employees, executives, and others watched the event online.
For fiscal 2021, two events will be held; one is a company-wide contest focused on sharing manufacturing division best practices in August, and another is an NGK-BOX event to share innovations and best practices implemented within the NGK Group in November.

Suggestion Activity Participation Rate

FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Manufacturing
divisions
100% 98% 93%
Non-manufacturing
divisions
92% 85% 83%
Clerical divisions 60% 50%
Number of
suggestions
Approx. 28,000 Approx. 29,000 Approx. 19,000
Picture of QuiC activities. In fiscal 2020, we trialed “NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges!” as a new, online format for presentation of best practices.
Best practices presentation held online
NGK-BOX/Surprising Challenges!

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

Training at a Group Company 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 fiscal 2020, 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 fiscal 2020 it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. And, although some training in fiscal 2020 was delayed until fiscal 2021 due to the 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 FY2020

Program name Number of days and participants Objectives and key characteristics of the fiscal year
QC I
(NGK
J technical staff)
E-learning (1 month): 120 participants
Practical theme training (2 months)
  • Understand the basics of problem solving
  • E-learning for face-to-face sessions
  • Online consultation and 1-day report sessions for practical theme training
Study of Failure
and Methodology of Creation
(entire NGK Group)
Study of Failure lecture:
 0.5 days; 25 participants
Study of Failure seminar:
 1 day each; 22 participants
Study of Failure seminar/Sharing session:
 1 day; 234 participants/148 participants
Methodology of Creation lecture:
 0.5 days; 149 participants
  • Facilitate acquisition of analytical and developmental skills needed to learn from failure through lectures, seminars, discussions, etc.
  • Share examples of failure analysis in the company among participants and instructors and hold a new case study sharing session where participants share similar case experiences
QMS Training
(entire NGK Group)
ISO/IATF standards interpretation:
 1 day × 5 sessions; 503 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:
 2 days × 5 sessions; 94 participants
  • Internal quality auditor training and accreditation
  • Accreditation training held with acrylic screens, face guards and other measures used to control infectious spread
Auditing Skills Development:
 1 day; 16 participants
  • Learn 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:
 1 day; 27 participants
  • Understand process auditing requirements for VDA standards
  • Conducted with limits placed on participant numbers and with infection control measures implemented

115 Employees Pass Self-Maintenance Expert Test (Grade 1: 37 Employees, Grade 2: 78 Employees)

With the aim of achieving a higher standard for maintenance activities and of improving productivity, a number of NGK Group employees in fiscal 2020 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 knowledge and skills necessary concerning quality management, safety, and machinery maintenance, and are certified to have the ability of planning and implementing voluntary maintenance activities and giving 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.

No. of Employees Who Passed

Grade 1 Grade 2
NGK 32 (pass rate of 52%) 55 (pass rate of 79%)
NGK Ceramic Device 3 (pass rate of 50%)
23 (pass rate of 92%)
NGK Electronics Devices 2 (pass rate of 50%) -