Quality Assurance Efforts
- Improving the Quality of the Development Process
- Responding to the Quality Standards of Each Country
- Maintaining and Improving Quality and Customer Satisfaction
Improving the Quality of the Development Process
While considering it important to achieve greater quality in the upstream business processes for manufacturing, we aim to raise the quality not only of products and services that we introduce to the market but also the development process itself.
For new products that we develop, our Quality Assurance Department checks the design reviews that are performed at every stage, from product planning stage to production planning stage. This is to ensure that quality is designed into our products and production processes.
Responding to the Quality Standards of Each Country
Against the background of, for example, climate change and expanding demand for mobility resulting from population increase in emerging countries and economic expansion, more and more countries and regions are introducing new laws and systems relating to performance and quality for improving fuel efficiency of automobiles and reducing of CO2 emissions from automobiles. We are working to strengthen our handling of quality standards throughout the Group by responding to all quality related to increasingly complex laws and regulations.
Examples of efforts to respond to quality standards
- Collecting information locally
- Making recommendations by participating in industry organizations
- Exchanging opinions with regulatory institutions
- Distribute information on the latest legal and regulatory trends
- Giving presentations related on legal and regulatory matters
Toyo Tire Group to Use its Proprietary Technology to Meet the World’s Most Stringent Requirements in Europe
Relationship between Rolling Resistance and Wet Grip Performance
More and more countries and regions are introducing new laws and systems requiring better fuel efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions from automobiles in the midst of changing climate, population increase in developing countries, and a need for more mobility resulting from economic expansion.
The role of tires is also becoming more important in improving fuel efficiency. Reducing the friction (rolling resistance) between tires and road surface will allow tires to roll easier so that vehicles can run further with same amount of fuel. Less friction means better fuel efficiency, but this generally means a weaker grip, lowering the tires’ ability to stop. This makes a big difference especially on wet roads. When designing fuel efficient tires, we must maintain good wet grip while reducing rolling resistance.
In Japan, the industry established a self-regulated “labeling system” in 2010 with ratings for rolling resistance and wet grip performance. Only tires that meet certain ratings in both categories can be labeled “fuel efficient”.
In Europe, there is a strict regulation requiring all tires for passenger vehicles sold within the EU to be labeled with ratings for rolling resistance, wet grip, and noise levels since 2012. In 2018, companies could not manufacture any tires for the EU if they do not meet certain level of performance in these categories.
At Toyo Tire Group, we continue to improve our overall technical capabilities by designing high-performance tires for the European market with most stringent requirements. We can improve the standards in other countries and regions by making these high-performance tires available to the rest of the world.
The Labeling System in Japan (left) and in the EU (right).
Maintaining and Improving Quality and Customer Satisfaction
We understand that we are linked to customers and society through our products and services, and we will strive every day to maintain and improve product quality at our production sites. We are also conscious of efforts to improve our “quality as a company” at all workplaces and we are working to provide the “customer first” products and services.
We continually conduct product satisfaction surveys in markets where they are currently available and feedback customer requests to the design and production sites.
QC Circle Activities, the Source of Sustainable Growth
For more than 50 years, the Group has undertaken QC circle activities to take the initiative to raise the level of quality management using what we have learned from a frontline perspective. In fiscal 2017, activities were launched not only at production facilities but also sales companies in Japan.
There are now around 300 circles across all facilities. At all the circles, members bring with them their experiences and knowledge in order to resolve issues as well as working to improve quality by ascertaining current conditions, setting goals, developing activity plans, and analyzing issues. A “company-wide QC Circle Conference” is held every year so that employees can share their experiences and achievements and to learn from one another. More than 70 people from 10 facilities throughout Japan participated in the conference in fiscal 2017, and 12 circles gave presentations on their quality improvement activities.
Fiscal 2017 company-wide QC Circle Conference
Activities for improving service quality at sales companies
We want our customers to shop for our products with ease, confidence, and satisfaction. So, we are working hard to improve the level of service provided by sales associates and receptionists at our tire sales subsidiaries.
For example, Toyo Tire Japan Co., Ltd. and independent distributors in Japan conduct work-specific training to train human resources so that they possess the required level of service quality for their respective work types (sales, reception, engineering). We also hold the National Speech Contest for our sales associates and “National Front Desk Call Handling Contest” for the receptionists. They are designed to encourage employees to be cognizant of their communication skills and learn how to explain the benefits of our products properly and in a way that is easy to understand.
Tire Safety Awareness Activities
We believe that it is the mission of tire manufacturers to widely publicize the importance of regular tire inspection leading to safety. And every year, we hold a tire safety awareness event in various places.
In FY2017, Toyo Tire Japan Co., Ltd. held the safety awareness event at shopping mall and conducted training to ensure that tires are used correctly and safely for tire users. And for tire stores, we conducted awareness training on safety during installation work.
Responding to Customer Inquiries and Complaints
Every time our customers contact us with an inquiry or a complaint, we consider this as an opportunity to gain an understanding of the expectations of the Group and to improve our products and services.
The total number of inquiries received by the Customer Relations Department in Japan in fiscal 2017 was 2,448. For inquiries and requests received by phone or on our website, the Customer Relations Department staff provide a “clear and accurate” explanation so that customers can gain a full understanding of the issue.
When receiving an inquiry about a tire, the staff may first ask the customer to provide as much information as possible and explain about how to “properly use our products”, for example, the optimum air pressure for the tires when to change tires and the storage method of the tires. Our staff also suggest the best tires for customers’ vehicles or the desired performance.
When we receive inquires and requests from our customers, we analyze the details and make suggestions to applicable departments. By doing so, we hope to improve “the ease of use” of our products and services for our customers. To customers who submit an inquiry via email, a questionnaire is sent to ask for their feedback on their level of satisfaction with regards to the response they received and the time it took to resolve their issue. The feedback helps us further improve the way we respond to our customers.
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