Initiatives to Improve Quality

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Basic Philosophy

NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. is working to share and practice the concepts of TQM (Quality Management) in order to become a group company that creates value for all stakeholders and has a system that can respond flexibly and swiftly to change.
Based on our CSR Policy, we have updated NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD.’s Corporate Quality Rules and identified the following five areas as the mainstays of total quality management (TQM).

1)Quality assurance

In order to provide products and services that meet the needs of our customers and society, NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. will establish all operations and guarantee their safety and reliability and promote development activities aimed at creating new value.

2)Daily management

NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. will consider methods and indicators to measure the quality of all our operations and promptly investigate the causes when results that differ from normal are obtained as well as taking countermeasures to maintain and improve quality.

3)Policy management

NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. will further improve and innovate activities to maintain and enhance quality. We will establish strategies and objectives for creating new value for customers and responding to the evolving internal and external business environment and explicitly identify issues and problems that need to be tackled as we work towards achieving our strategies and objectives.

4)Small group improvement activities

NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. will use small group teams to solve the various issues and problems identified through daily management and policy management, thereby developing human resources.

5)Quality control education

NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. will create the understanding and awareness of the mainstays of TQM, which are the prerequisites for maintaining and enhancing quality and activating improvements and innovation and then establish and implement a grade-specific education system.

Running “Quality Activity Events” Year Round

We run quality management events year round, not only in Japan’s Quality Month which is held every November. Our quality expos are held at all the sites of group companies in Japan and are visited by more than 5,000 employees each year. We established the expos as an opportunity to share our approach to quality as well as the diverse quality-related initiatives in workplaces. In addition, we promote activities to maintain and enhance quality while engaging all employees in a range of events such as raising awareness about quality through collection of quality slogans and attendance at lectures on quality, evaluation of the results of activities at QC Circle workshops, and promotion of problem solving through tours of inspection by local senior management, including overseas business sites.

A quality expo

SDCA Activity

Standardizing our work and operations plays an important role in supporting TQM (quality management). As a manufacturer, we are promoting the manufacturing worksite SDCA (Standardize, Do, Check & Act) activity to stably and reliably conduct daily management at our manufacturing worksites. We are working to improve quality of our manufacturing while being susceptible to any abnormal state in the worksites and maintaining the worksite without muri, muda and mura (unreasonableness, waste and inconsistency) as a daily routine through good communication.

Voice of Our Activity Promoter

Creating a Workplace with a Positive Culture through Standardization

Miyanojo manufacturing department is working on standardization activities for lessening unevenness in the procedure, methods, and time periods for executing operations. Our activities aim at standardization of the process, which allows every worker to readily perform the operations in the natural flow while making efforts to lessen unevenness in the time period for preparatory job or “temporary stop”* so as to attain stability in quality and production. We have introduced the work evaluation system using the tablet terminal to confirm the operations in the determined manner. The system helps us to identify the specific operation that has been kept unclear as well as search for more efficient approach to perform such operation through discussion. Consequently, we are able to confidently conduct the operation. We are sure that the communication among members in the process has been restored to further improve the worksite atmosphere.

*Temporary stop : The brief interrupted or idling state of facilities and production in the manufacturing worksite resulting from incidental trouble owing to uncertain cause.

Spark Plug Div.
Manufacturing Dept.

Quality Training Raising the Quality of Our Manufacturing

We are working to develop our human “assets” as “making things is making people.” We have established fulfilled training programs that include quality control and QC Circle Activities, and many of our employees attend these programs. We are also further strengthening more advanced support activities at sites. We expect that training participants will gain significant awareness by revising points on techniques through familiar themes in addition to spreading this awareness to the employees around them.
We also offer quality training and practical support for problem solving for suppliers so that they provide us with consistently high quality parts and materials based on continuous quality improvement.

Quality training

Voice of Our Training Leader

Moving from Knowing to Being Able to Use Quality Knowledge

In our quality training programs, we hear feedback on being able to acquire knowledge such as “I obtained new knowledge” and “I found out about points for analysis.” We are providing practical instruction on the themes raised by individual employees in order to turn this knowledge into something that can be applied to practice. Going forward, we will continue to enhance the quality of products and work through the development of human “assets” with the ability to apply quality knowledge to practice.

Corporate Quality Management Div. Kato

QC Circle Activities (Small Group Improvement Activities )

We are implementing QC Circle Activities aimed at advancement of human "asset" training and workplace capacity by continually solving problems and issues we face in daily work. We call this activity "NQC Activities." (N denotes an initial letter of Nittoku).

Presentation and Sharing of Results of NQC Activities

During Quality Control Month every November, NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. and group companies in Japan jointly hold company-wide presentations concerning results of NQC Activities. In fiscal 2016, the presentations were held for indirect department and direct department, separately so that the employees are stimulated by learning specific activities performed by coworkers in the same occupational category as a reference for their working ways. Three circles that received the gold prize for excellence were highly evaluated for achievement of the target based on the “5-Gen principles” by all members, and enhancement of their knowledge on improvement, and communication skills. Defining the session as the framework for the “NGK SPARK PLUG Group Presentation”, we started holding invitational presentations on the best improvement practices from circles of overseas group company in fiscal 2015.
In addition, at the company-wide improvement practice presentation and award ceremony every June, commendations are given to small groups systematically implementing exceptional NQC Activities in daily operations throughout the year to encourage continuous NQC Activities by honoring their efforts.
In addition, we actively send outstanding improvement incidence to presentation meetings outside the company. Presentation of the subject theme outside the company will stimulate their motivations, sense of achievement to upgrade the circle as well as individuals, leading to the next activities. Recently, a certain number of circles have received higher prizes in the presentation held outside the company every year. The contents and results of the presentations are shared by the in-house infrastructure.

Central Presentation Circle awarded the gold prize
(indirect department)

Promotion of NQC Activities in Each Department

To activate NQC Activities at each worksite, we formed new “expert committees” at each of our plants in fiscal 2013. These committees are made up of Certified QC Circle Trainers and expert advisors (members selected from each division and department). In particular, they aim to give expert advisors knowledge and practical skills related to NQC Activities through two years of activities as internal workshop instructors, promoters and commentators and in external training courses. After their terms, they return to their respective worksites available on a daily basis. The NQC Central Office aims at revitalization of activities by increasing the general expert advisors in the respective worksites.
Our aim is to invigorate and raise the quality of NQC Activities through continual improvements to this system for promoting them, and we will continue to develop human "asset" who can produce the best results in each scene of the company’s business activities.

Advice from an expert advisor

Voice of the Secretariat for NQC Activities at Group Companies in Japan

NQC Activities Leading to Human Resource Development

We have been promoting NQC activities focusing on human resource development based on the slogan to “Learn and upgrade through NQC activities for better self and more lively worksite”.
In fiscal 2016, the following initiatives were promoted in addition to support to the circles, for example, confirmation of meeting progress by recording meetings, advice on QC methodology and QC incidents.
・Promoting participation of new counselors and promotion committee members in external workshops
・Holding exchange meetings only for female employees for the purpose of revitalizing the activities
The knowledges cultivated through the initiatives are expected to be utilized not only for NQC activities but for routine works, leading to development of human “assets” indispensable for the company.

Ceramic Sensor Secretariat for NQC

Measurement Management

Appropriate measurement management in order to obtain reliable measurements is vital in manufacturing.
In order to protect the NGK SPARK PLUG brand, we support our group companies in the way adapted to individual tasks by making importance of measurement known to the entire group.

Development of Measurement Management System for Group Companies in Japan

We have established the unified criterion for the measurement management system so that such system is implemented at higher operation level. We believe that the unified criterion will lead us to enhancement of quality assurance system.
We are performing audits of measurement management systems and confirmation of manufacturing worksite measurement at each company and have been working to unify standards and enhance the quality of frameworks and management.
We will offer the support to voluntary level-up through key person development for the jobsite confirmation and human resource development conducted in each company.

Voice of a Measurement Management Manager at a NGK SPARK PLUG's Group Company

In-house Calibration of Measurement Device

We have been currently taking the initiatives to implement in-house calibration of measurement devices upon start-up of new plant. In collaboration with NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD., we have been engaging in development of the operator for calibration, framework improvement, and building of chamber for calibration. We will continue working to improve knowledges and skills of our employees while enhancing our relationship with NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD.

SparkTec WKS CO., LTD.
Quality Assurance Dept.

Support to Overseas Group Companies from Viewpoints of Measurement

We visit the plant of overseas group companies on the regular basis for improving the calibration skill of the local employees, and auditing the gauge supplier as part of our educational support project.
Aiming at quality improvement of the framework and skills, we have started implementation of measurement confirmation at manufacturing worksite as well as “audits of measurement management systems” and “certification of calibration skills”. The in-depth confirmation is intended to further raise the measurement management level directly linked to manufacturing. We will work on localization so that each company is able to perform skill certification, training, and process confirmation on their own.
As part of rationalization, we are promoting local procurement of gauge. Proper incoming inspection at the respective overseas plants is essential for successful local procurement. The measurement technology is needed for such proper inspection. We will contribute to accuracy improvement and consistency of incoming inspections by rolling out training in measurement method and skills.

Voice of a Quality Control Manager, Overseas Group Company

Aiming at Upgrading of Measurement Management and Measurement Skill

We are continuously working for upgrading the measurement management and measurement skills in collaboration with NGK SPARK PLUG Co., LTD. The measurement management system audits conducted in fiscal 2016 revealed the “weakness” in the system. Implementation of in-house training to overcome the “weakness” led us to enhancement and improvement of the measurement management and measurement skills. In the future, we will continuously work to attain further growth.