Kobe Steel blames poor management for scandal

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December 6, 2017

Following an October announcement that employees had falsified material specifications data on some aluminum and copper alloys provided to customers, Kobe Steel officials launched an investigation that found a pattern of internal failures.

Officials say five key failings led to the fraudulent shipments:

  • A management style that emphasized profitability coupled with a closed organization structure
  • Imbalanced operations of metals plants
  • Inadequate quality controls
  • Reduced awareness of conformity to specifications
  • Inadequate organizational system

“Among the inappropriate cases uncovered by the inspection, there are cases where staff of multiple departments such as the manufacturing departments and the quality assurance departments were involved, and cases where such misconducts continued for a long period,” Kobe Steel officials say. “The fact that management failed to detect and deal with such a major situation that happened at plants itself is a big issue. We recognize that it is management’s responsibility to find out the real cause of this situation and come up with and implement measures to prevent such a situation from recurring.”

As it works through the scandal, the company has set up new quality committees and plans to make quality a top board responsibility. Kobe officials said they are working with automakers and other customers to evaluate the out-of-spec materials to determine if components have to be recalled.

Several customers have cleared the metal, saying while it was out of spec, it was safe to use. Toyota and Lexus engineers said aluminum plates purchased directly from Kobe Steel and via other suppliers were primarily used in hood construction and on rear hatches, and parts meet safety tolerances.

“However, since the announcement by Kobe Steel covers a wide range of products, we do not regard this matter as closed, and we are continuing our efforts to identify its full impact. We are currently working to identify the impact of affected non-aluminum materials on our vehicles,” Toyota’s engineering safety team says.

www.kobelco.co.jp/english; www.toyota.com

Seco Tools opens Mexico Facility

In Querétaro, Mexico, the heart of the country’s automotive and aerospace manufacturing industry, Seco Tools opened a new facility led by Curtis Hassan. Seco Tools de Mexico provides customers with access to the company’s tooling, training programs, and engineering services.

“In previous years, our Mexican customers and channel partners had to visit our Troy, Michigan-based headquarters for training,” says Seco Tools President Rob Keenan. “Now, we can offer such services as tool failure analysis and engineering consultations directly to those customers in their own local areas.”

The new facility offers a microscopy lab for analysis of used or damaged tools, as well as a manufacturing process engineer for customers with highly specialized needs. It also includes space for conducting Seco Technical Education Program (STEP) training sessions and consultations regarding process optimization with engineered solutions team members. www.secotools.com