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Quality and Customer Value

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Mission

Creating Customer Value & Trust
To create a global framework in collaboration with all related Bridgestone entities and stakeholders to proactively identify, prioritize and address customer quality issues
in keeping with the intentions of our founder to:
“Serve Society with Superior Quality”
Formulation of the Quality Mission Statement

Formulation of the Quality Mission Statement

The purpose of the Quality Mission Statement is to empower our future direction based on the spirit of our founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, by bringing Bridgestone’s DNA and the proud heritage of quality and continual improvement to new generations of Bridgestone employees. Through innovation and employee engagement, we can achieve unparalleled quality, not only in manufacturing, but also throughout the value chain and in all products and services delivered to the customer.

All Bridgestone Group global business domains, functions and employees create customer value and trust through innovation and improvements.

Management Structure

The Bridgestone Group, to respond as a corporate group to the rapidly shifting social environment and meet customer expectations, has established a structure covering all functions from product planning to after-sales service, and works to ensure quality throughout the entire supply chain.

For its quality assurance structure, the Bridgestone Group has established the Group Global CQO Organization, comprising the Global CQO*1, together with SBU-CQOs appointed by SBUs*2. The CQOs work to promote the Group’s quality policy and understand quality aspects, and provide appropriate and prompt responses to quality issues. The Quality and Customer Value WG has been established as one of the working groups (WGs) for specific areas and functions in the Global CSR management system. It discusses global issues selected by the CQO Organization, and issues reports to the Global CSR Enhancement Committee (GCEC), and top management of the SBUs.

In 2016, the Group Global CQO Organization was revised to clarify the role of each CQO, quality control indices were established, and monitoring begun. In 2017, we are working to improve the quality improvement PDCA cycle, based on the new structure.

In 1968 Bridgestone received the Deming Application Prize, an eminent quality award, and in 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of that achievement. Looking ahead to this milestone year, to achieve customer value creation based on the Quality Mission Statement, we will further strengthen our quality structure throughout the value chain.

  1. Chief Quality Officer
  2. Strategic business unit (SBU): An operational department or worksite that conducts business activities

Group Global CQO Organization (2016)

Group Global CQO Origanization (2016)
  1. Global Head Office
  2. Global Management Platform

VOC/VOB Management

In complying with changing the business model from “product out” to “market in” the Bridgestone Group has promoted utilization and improvement of the VOC (Voice of Customer) / VOB (Voice of Business Partner) management system and incorporated it into the development step to increase customer value. In each region, systematic management of VOC / VOB has been implemented according to market conditions and used to optimize products and services offered to customers.

In Japan, the customer summary system collects VOC from the Customer Communication Center and other related departments. The system has been utilized by related departments for sharing VOC information timely and improving product and service quality.
Bridgestone Americas and Bridgestone EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) integrated corporate activities such as commercial market segmentation surveys, understand overall consumer satisfaction with tire patterns using net promoter score (NPS) method, support future product plans Customer value indicator (CVI) is set and used as an important indicator.
In Asia and Pacific region, Bridgestone periodically conducts market research including products from other companies, and the results are fed in to the development step.

Bridgestone Group will continue to build a solution business model with improving and strengthening the VOC / VOB management system. Through these activities, we improve product and service quality and create value for our customers.

Product Development Initiatives

Development Quality Assurance Activities Flow

To avoid quality issues in the development process, the Bridgestone Group standardizes the development process at all development centers and enhances various process check systems to improve development quality.

The Development QA*1 Consulting process was implemented in Japan in 2011 to identify and improve potential problems in all development processes. In order to cope with problems identified by regular consulting, we completed the development standardization process in all product development groups. In 2016, we expanded development process assessments to standardize the development process for production technology.

In the Americas, in 2015 we adopted a new product development process with six gates to consider product development from the standpoints of varied customer demands and overall brand risk. In 2017, we plan to expand this process to the Latin American market.

In Europe, Bridgestone EMEA began new product development to ensure that development meets varied customer demands. In 2016, we expanded development of OE tires (tires fitted on new cars).

In Asia Pacific, APTC*2 has standardized development procedures and plans to adopt a high-quality gate system based on global standards in order to further improve quality at the design and development stage. In 2017, we began coordination efforts to establish a global development QA consulting system, including the new APTC development QA.

  1. Quality Assurance
  2. Bridgestone Asia Pacific Technical Center Co., Ltd.

Development quality assurance activities process

Development quality assurance activities process

 

QA in Raw material Procurement

The Bridgestone Group operates a global business, working with a wide range of suppliers to procure raw materials and outsourced products. With the cooperation of our many suppliers, we have established Group-wide approval criteria related to raw materials and outsourced products to ensure high quality.

Even after establishing a relationship with suppliers, we continuously monitor the quality of goods received, conduct supplier audits, and make other efforts to ensure suppliers are maintaining their quality assurance structures and that products supplied consistently meet Bridgestone's quality requirements.

In 2016, based on our Q&A policy we established a receiving inspection system for reinforcing materials for Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. We are working in cooperation with GMP to establish a structure in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of 2017.

GMP and working teams in the Americas, Europe, and Japan have begun collaborating to build a global raw material supply management system. We also hold discussions on such issues as the evaluation and assessment methods for issues raised and audits, and the periodical rating of suppliers.

QA in Outsourcing

GMP and SBUs are strengthening cooperation on outsourced products in an effort to raise the level of global quality assurance. In 2016, we launched an effort to improve the three core competencies of outsourcing (Detection, Selection, and Deterrence) with the aim of enhancing outsourcing supplier management.

Detection

We applied compliance procedures for OEM*3 work and made assessments of their effectiveness. In 2017, we plan to broaden this system to other areas and improve the audit check sheet.

Selection

We conducted quarterly sampling inspections to prevent undeclared changes in tube values. In 2017, we will consider effective ways to reduce market risk and disseminate information on Key performance indicators (KPIs).

Deterrence

We revised contracts regarding compensation for abnormalities caused by outsourcing suppliers. The new contract terms will be applied from 2017 as contracts are renewed.

*3 Original Equipment Manufacturing

QA in Tire Manufacturing

In response to the diverse and higher-level requirements of vehicle manufacturers and customers in the replacement market, the Bridgestone Group is driven to improve quality in each manufacturing process to continue providing the safest and highest-quality products.

Bridgestone promotes the “visualization” of potential quality risks at tire production plants and proactively implements preventive actions using the Failure Mode and Effect Analysis quality assurance method. Based on potential risk reduction activities in 2015, we have identified and now promoting the implementation of global quality improvements utilizing our mid-term planning process. Going forward, we aim to further improve product quality on a global basis.

In 2016 we proceeded with the early detection of potential problems for global and rapid market actions and the creation of a rapid and accurate risk management system for judgment and market action. And we could enhance the measure by deep analysis of root cause and prevention by YOKOTEN (sharing) information. In 2017, we will continue to evolve early warning system (EWS), improve VOC / VOB system, and promote rapid optimization of actions from a customer perspective.

QA for Diversified Products

The Bridgestone Group’s Diversified Products Business handles products other than tires, including automotive components, industrial materials such as conveyer belts and hoses, urethane-based chemical products, infrastructure-related products, bicycles, and sports equipment. In 2016, we implemented a quality improvement project for automobile vibration reduction products. We identified issues at production facilities, and made improvements. We also reviewed customer feedback on sporting goods and bicycles, and made continual efforts to address deficiencies.

In 2017, we will continue with measures to ensure the quality of all products from a demanding customer’s perspective, identify points for improvement, and take the lead on quality improvement activities. We will also maintain efforts to improve quality at Japanese factories for automobile anti-vibration rubber. For sporting goods and bicycle products, we will strengthen quality controls for principal and common parts.

Human Resource Development in Support of Quality Activities

Passing On Manufacturing Technology Traditions

The Bridgestone places great importance of sharing the quality mindset and skills by the baby-boomers, who have supported our quality efforts up to now, to the younger generations.

The Quality Human Resources Development Unit that was newly established in 2012 reconstructed the Human Resource training system, and is driving quality training throughout the entire Bridgestone Group. In 2013, we introduced a QA instructor system in the China and Asia tire SBU. We defined necessary quality capability requirements and created training materials reflecting them. These activities have also begun deployment in Thailand. In 2014, we certified Thai national staff members as QA instructors for the first time after completion of a year-long training program. As of 2016, a total of 60 QA instructors were certified in the China/Asia region. Quality training will be led by QA instructors (national staff) at each facility in an attempt to continue raising the level of quality activities.

Going forward, we aim to develop human resources who can ensure even higher levels of quality and support products and services that can be used with safety and peace of mind throughout the Bridgestone Group.

Bridgestone Group Global TQM Conference

Since 2010, the Bridgestone Group has held a Global Total Quality Management (TQM) Conference each year attended by Bridgestone and Group companies.

The Group Global TQM Conference aims to enhance the level of quality activities and improve quality awareness through sharing examples of excellence in innovation and improvements selected from each region and SBU with the entire Group.

Furthermore, in conjunction with the internal deployment of the Quality Mission Statement in 2016, Bridgestone aims to create customer value and trust by promoting improvement activities in which all employees participate. These activities will be conducted not only in manufacturing, sales and service departments but in all Group departments globally.

Market Initiatives

Utilization of market quality information

The Bridgestone Group collects and analyzes tire concern data in Japan and overseas. As our tires are driven on roads all over the world, the information collected and tire analysis results are promptly shared with related departments and utilized to improve tire quality. When necessary, the actual tire is collected for a detailed analysis, which is useful for early-stage quality improvements.

For example, in cases regarding passenger car tire wear, information is obtained through meetings held with distributors, the actual tire is analyzed, used tires are inspected, and actual markets are visited to proactively collect information. All this information is integrated, analyzed and used to improve quality levels and increase customer satisfaction.

Going forward, we will promote the further development of market information analysis methods to provide products that customers can continue to use with peace of mind.

Examples of VOC Used to Improve Bridgestone Products and Services

"bikke2e" and "Angelino petite e" Electric-Assisted Bicycles Compatible for Riding with Two Child Passengers

Having improved its small-diameter wheel bicycles and electric-assisted bicycles compatible for riding with two child passengers, Bridgestone Cycle launched sales of the 2016 model "bikke2e" in December 2015 and the "Angelino petite e" in January 2016.

Bicycles designed for riding with two child passengers have been well received in the market, particularly small-diameter wheel models that take into consideration the ease of seating or removing children and a low center of gravity for riding stability to address weight issues when children are placed in the front and rear seats. Furthermore, these models have wide, load-bearing tires and speed sensors mounted in a low position on the front wheel.

A great deal of feedback from customers indicated that the rail-type bicycle rack at their apartment or other parking area "prevents the front wheel from fitting into the rail," "makes it difficult to remove the front wheel," and "damages the speed sensor because it comes in contact with the rail." As Bridgestone Cycle makes every effort to respond to customer requests, parts manufacturers were asked to further miniaturize the speed sensor and review installation methods, resulting in a speed sensor with a diameter 45% the size of conventional sensors. In addition, a metal cover was added to protect the underside of the speed sensor.

Tires were also modified, resulting in the adoption of a new narrow tire (6mm narrower than conventional tires), offering the same load-bearing properties and riding stability. The adoption of these newly developed narrow-width tires and miniature speed sensors makes these bicycles compatible with most modern rail-type bicycle parking facilities, alleviating the concerns of customers considering a bicycle purchase.

 

Pursue Your Longest Drive through Fitting Sales Launch of New "PHYZ" Series Golf Clubs

In March 2016, Bridgestone Sports launched sales of the new "PHYZ" series based on the concept of "clubs for pursuing your longest drive," suited to the unique swing and physical strength of each individual golfer.

This is the first custom-fitted model in the series, which is currently in its fourth generation.

Advances in lightweight design and Bridgestone's proprietary "power slit" and "power milling" technologies realize graceful and long-driving clubs. (Compared to previous models, based on Bridgestone research.)

Utilizing Bridgestone Sports' 30 years of fitting expertise and a newly developed app, the customer's swing is analyzed with a quick "three ball diagnosis" that is a game-changer in terms of fittings to date, leading to the ideal club for pursuing each individual golfer's longest drive.

  1. Note:
    The new "PHYZ" series will be sold in stores having a Bridgestone Sports certified workshop staffed by certified craftsmen and PHYZ advisors.

Siphon Drainage System Developed to Improve Future Maintenance and Upgrade Capabilities, Expand Apartment Plan Variations

Bridgestone collaborated with Nomura Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. and the HASEKO Corporation to develop a "siphon drainage system," a drainage system enabling flexibility in the design and placement of water supply equipment in buildings.

Siphon drainage systems are new narrower systems that employ siphon force (a pulling force generated by falling water) and drainage pipes more narrow in diameter than conventional pipes to pull water into drainage standpipes (vertical drainage pipes leading to the sewer running through each floor of a building) at the floor below. Conventional drainage systems depend on gradients; thus, drainage standpipes must be installed near water supply equipment, which limits the positioning of the water supply.

Siphon drainage systems facilitate designs necessitating less under-floor space than conventional drainage resulting in larger-sized rooms. In addition, drainage standpipes can be installed in common areas of the building, as water supply equipment can be positioned some distance from the drainage standpipe due to the high water discharge resulting from the non-gradient drainage pipe and siphon force. As a result, this improves maintenance and drainage standpipe upgrade capabilities.

In addition, flexibility in the layout of water supplies is intended to enable expanded apartment plan variations. This development currenty allows for kitchen applications with the aim to expand the application to unit baths and toilets in the future. It also enables the layout to be altered in accordance with lifestyle changes associated with family additions or caregiving support and is expected to increase asset value.

In recognition of the extremely innovative nature of this technology, it was unanimously selected by the jury for the 2015 Building Materials Grand Prize sponsored by Nikkei Architecture.

Differences between Conventional Drainage and Siphon Drainage

Siphon Drainage Merits

"Playz PX" Passenger Car Tires

Playz PX

To meet customer demands for safety, Bridgestone has attempted to improve basic performance in terms of wet braking and handling stability.

In addition to improved basic performance, "Playz PX" offers new "fatigue-free"* safety performance in a product that will provide even greater customer satisfaction.

When driving, bumps and dips on the road may cause the vehicle to move left and right, resulting in the driver unconsciously making minute adjustments with the steering wheel. These unconscious minute adjustments can add up to driver stress, one factor that leads to driver fatigue.

"Playz PX" series tires are shaped differently on the inside and outside. Bridgestone's proprietary asymmetrically shaped tires suppress play in the steering wheel while driving. As a result, contact with the road surface is stabilized and the unconscious build-up of stress while driving is lessened by reducing the need for minute steering wheel adjustments (modifying the steering angle) which contributes to even greater safety through the realization of "fatigue-free" driving.

These tires also utilize "power tread rubber," a new compound recently developed using Bridgestone's proprietary Nano Pro-Tech materials technology. This development successfully realizes steady traction on wet road surfaces without sacrificing fuel efficiency and enhances resistance to rubber abrasion. Additionally, new tread patterns were specially designed for each type of vehicle, from sedans and coupes to minivans, light vehicles and compact cars, enabling these tires to be used longer compared to standard Bridgestone tires (ECOPIA EX20 series).

Through improved basic performance and the new safety performance of "fatigue-free" tires, Bridgestone will continue to respond to customer needs and contribute to the realization of a safer and more comfortable mobile society.

  1. The effectiveness of "fatigue-free" tires on driving was confirmed under the supervision of Yasue Mitsukura (Associate Professor, Keio University, Faculty of Science and Technology), a leading figure in brain-wabe signal analysis.