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Kobe Steel Tarnishes Its Reputation by Falsifying Quality Data

Manufacturers around the world are reeling this week, as Kobe Steel admits to falsifying data about its aluminum and copper quality. The story is still unfolding, but the company confirms that employees at four of its factories altered inspection certificates from September 2016 to August 2017 to make it look as though their metals met customer manufacturing specifications, even though they didn’t. The scope of the investigation keeps widening: the company is now looking at its powdered steel—which is used to make gears—and its data records from the past 10 years to see if more falsifications exist.

Kobe Steel has already taken a big financial hit to the tune of a 34 percent plunge (and falling…) in its share price and a $1.5 billion loss in market value. And the reputational hit will be felt in the days, weeks, months, and years to come, further eroding the company’s bottom line. But there’s much more at stake here—Kobe Steel supplies materials to manufacturing giants such as Nissan, Toyota, and Boeing. These companies are now scrambling to conduct safety checks on their products to assess exposure and make sure that their customers (you and me) are safe. It’s an enormous task, as manufacturers have to dig through their complex supply chains to pinpoint and evaluate the non-conformances.

This is where ARMATURE can help.

ARMATURE Helps Manufacturers Identify Supplier Risks
The right quality management software solution serves as a lifeline for manufacturers—surfacing risks so that executives can take action, fast. Our personalized dashboards provide quality leaders with a snapshot view of the entire quality landscape, highlighting issues that require attention. ARMATURE’s software puts operational controls in place that manufacturers can rely on when assessing an extensive supply chain, eliminating the vulnerabilities that can result from information silos and human error. The dashboard connects the quality data dots and provides transparency for stakeholders across the organization, allowing them to visualize supplier quality trends over time and remedy issues before they reach Kobe-level proportions. Click-through actions make it easy for executives to triage issues on the spot.

Here’s an example of an executive dashboard:

View type & severity of issues and triage non-conformances on the spot.

ARMATURE’s quality management software is configurable, so each user sees a personalized dashboard upon logging in. While executives are concerned with managing organizational risk and understanding quality trends over time, quality managers oversee staff and suppliers on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s an example of a quality manager dashboard:

Personalized dashboard helps quality managers keep track of staff & suppliers.

Our Commitment to Data Integrity Starts at the Top
ARMATURE CEO Dave McTaggart recently joined ASQ’s Standards Committee Writing Group to help shape data integrity guidelines within the scope of quality management systems. Integrity is one of our core values, so we welcome the opportunity to serve the quality community in this way. As a software company, we understand how technology can help manufacturers prevent quality failures: when companies are able to log an issue through a robust auditing program and then run it through the right processes so that the right people can get involved at the right time to remediate issues, they can better control their risk and exposure while turning out products of exceptional quality. That’s the whole idea behind ARMATURE’s quality management software, and it starts with a commitment to integrity.

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We regularly publish articles in the fields of Accreditation, Certification, Auditing, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Integrated Risk Management (IRM).

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