Product Quality Improvements and Product Safety Control
The Group is making a continuous effort to provide high-quality products to customers stably. We have established a robust internal quality management system, and are continuously striving to improve quality and reduce deviations and waste.
Customer requests are promptly and accurately sent to the Research Center and Production Department through the Sales Department, and utilized for the research and development of new products and the improvement of existing products.
The products are delivered to customers after a final inspection, taking into account the characteristics of the products and how customers will use them.
Sales Department, Research and Development Department, Production Department, and Quality Assurance Department of each of the company's department and Group companies cooperate by taking on the following roles in order to meet the requests of our customers.
Understand the customer's requests, and promptly and accurately share the information with our Research and Development Department and the Production Department.
Research and Development Department and Production Department
Research and develop new products and improve existing products based on the customer's requests. We are promoting the automation of the manufacturing process in order to achieve consistent quality.
Quality Assurance Department
Make the final confirmation on the product while taking into account the characteristics of the product and how they will be used. We have enhanced the accuracy of quality measurement by pursuing the automation of measurement processes to eliminate variations due to quality measurement personnel, sample preparation, and measurement procedures. In addition, convert measurement results into data and used to prevent typing errors when creating inspection tables and labels.
Almost all of the Group's manufacturing bases, both domestic and overseas, have obtained certifications for their quality control systems, such as ISO 9001 and IATF16949.1 We have also established a strict rule to respond to all inquiries related to product quality from customers within two business days.
- 1 IATF16949
A quality management system for the automotive industry
Shin-Etsu Chemical Gunma Complex
Mr.TI, Inspection Group, Quality Assurance Department
IT training provided insights for utilizing AI in quality inspections
1.Please tell us about your job.
In my department, we inspect products made of silicone and organic materials. My main work is to consider, propose, and install inspection facilities and equipment, including the installation of automated inspection equipment and the construction of inspection systems.
2.Why did you wish to participate in the IT training?
Many product inspections rely on human senses to determine whether a product is acceptable or not, so it is better to make such determinations automatically without human subjectivity. In recent years, AI-based image analysis technologies have been developed rapidly and become popular. I took an IT training course because I wanted to deepen my knowledge of AI and apply the technology to inspection operations such as visual inspection.
3.What lessons from the IT training can you put to practical use?
First, in the AI lecture, I learned how to handle big data and various algorithms of AI, and their characteristics. We were then divided into small groups to obtain practical knowledge and experience by looking at case studies and discussing past AI analysis examples. I believe that this allowed us to quickly utilize AI in the workplace.
Product inspections involve a large amount of inspection data. By comprehensively analyzing this data in AI, I believe that it is possible to detect defective products with higher precision, in addition to relying on the experience and judgment of individuals. I also believe that we can achieve higher quality control if we can make stable inspection decisions that are not affected by human subjectivity by implementing the AI image analysis technologies described above, especially to inspect the appearance of products using deep learning.
Quality Audits and Support
Since 2000, we have conducted quality audits annually to improve quality and customer service.
Quality control activities are evaluated based on two different viewpoints: customer and quality cost. We work to find the root cause of quality issues and strive to prevent re-occurrence.
In the quality audit in FY2020, the following items were audited as priority items:
- (1) Automating manufacturing processes to prevent careless human errors caused by workers' assumptions and misunderstanding
- (2) Increasing the accuracy of quality measurement by pursuing the automation of measurement processes to eliminate variations due to quality measurement personnel, sample preparation, and measurement procedures
- (3) Establishing a system to automatically incorporate inspection data into a database and store and share them in order to prevent typing errors when creating inspection reports and labels
Six Sigma programs1 were also deployed throughout the company to improve the quality level.
Quality audit (September 2020, Shin-Etsu Chemical Kashima Plant)
The 20th debrief session of
the results of Shin-Etsu Six Sigma
(February 2020, Shin-Etsu
Chemical Head Office)
- 1 Six Sigma programs
Quality improvement method developed by Motorola in the 1980s. Focusing on processes with quality variation, it is designed to minimize variations within the processes, thereby reducing the incidence of quality defects. This approach has been adopted across the Group.
Product Safety Control
We manage product safety, from product development to transportation, based on internal regulations.
To ensure the safety of new chemical substances, we assess and confirm environmental and health risks at the development stage. When developing new chemical substances, we focus on products and manufacturing technologies that do not use hazardous substances that have been designated by the Industrial Health and Safety Act and Chemical Substances Control Law,1 as well as the EU RoHS Directive.2 Furthermore, we make sure that the necessary notifications and reports are submitted according to laws and regulations.
We offer customers information such as on product hazards and harms in the form of SDS3 in order to ensure the proper transmission of information to customers and transportation firms. In addition, we request customers to handle products safely by complying with laws and regulations, installing abatement equipment, wearing protective equipment and so on through SDS.
As a product transportation safety measure, we issue yellow cards4 and container yellow cards5 that are affixed to containers. In accordance with the Industrial Safety and Health Act, we also attached symbols to indicate hazardous and harmful substances in accordance with GHS6 on product containers and packaging.
- 1 Chemical Substances Control Law
Short for "Act on the Evaluation of Chemical Substances and Regulation of Their Manufacture, etc.," it is intended to prevent environmental pollution by chemical substances that can be harmful to human health or to ecosystems.
- 2 Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)
An EU directive that restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
- 3 Safety Data Sheet (SDS）
SDS lists the physical and chemical properties of chemical substances, together with their harmfulness and emergency response procedures. Designed to promote safer use of chemical substances and prevent accidents and incidents, SDS are supplied by manufacturers, importers, and distributors to customers during sales or shipment.
- 4 Yellow cards
Yellow cards are cards that describe all relevant information on the treatment required in case of an accident during the transportation of chemical substances. The cards are handed to the transport contractor, who carries them when transporting the chemical substances in tanker lorries, etc.
- 5 Container yellow cards
The standard yellow card system is not suitable for use with mixed cargoes and small-lot deliveries; instead, each container carries a label displaying the safety information such as the UN number of a chemical name and the ERG guide number.
- 6 Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)
An internationally standardized system of classification and labeling of chemicals.