Bridgestone’s commitment to Quality at the heart of our business began with our founder Shojiro Ishibashi’s passion that Quality in business and in products would best serve society and sustain business success. As our founder prepared to sunset his career in 1961, Bridgestone was listed on the stock exchange and adopted a new management structure with Shojiro Ishibashi as the chairman, and Kanichiro Ishibashi as the president in 1963. As part of the management transition, the company adopted a management reformation plan called “the Deming Plan”, which involved overall management system enhancements with quality at the core. The hand drawn image below was indicated by Kanichiro Ishibashi set the plan into action in 1968.
Quality and Customer Value
- 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”
In 1968, Bridgestone earned global recognition of their commitment to total quality management by receiving the prestigious Deming Prize for excellence in quality management. From this success fifty years ago, the culture of total quality management (TQM) took root. Since that time, our society and our company have undergone considerable change, but we have remained firmly committed to a culture of continuous improvement. Today, quality is not a department at the Bridgestone Group, it is an outcome of thoughtful planning and execution; it is a business principle, not only a product principle. This is why the Group’s cross-functional Quality Management System Task Force's work overseeing the Global TQM Culture of Continuous Improvement, including the “QMK”*1 approach to problem solving, was recognized with a Bridgestone Group Award in 2019.
Annual competitions recognizing significant business results driven by the commitment to continuous improvement have been held since 1968. Each year since 2010, the Group has held an annual Bridgestone Group Global TQM Conference. The meeting helps cultivate quality awareness and raise the level of TQM activities across the organization by sharing best practices. More than 325 employees from around the world attended the 2018 conference where 16 projects selected from more than 100 qualifying events were showcased.
Across our company, we are always looking for ways to strengthen our culture of quality:
•One of the four foundational components of Bridgestone essence is Genbutsu-Genba, or decision-making based on verified, on-site observations. Our colleagues in Turkey developed an intense, inter-disciplinary Genba Room, where collaboration reduced response time to dealer and customer concerns from 30 hours to under two hours.
•The new Bridgestone Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Digital Garage brings together employees from IT, research and development, and sales and marketing to innovate new business offerings and solutions using a repeatable, agile and highly collaborative approach.
- QMK is an acronym that combines quality control and mondai kaiketsu (problem solving) to encourage problem solving through quality control.
In 2017, Bridgestone further enhanced the quality improvement PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act) cycle and the monitoring activity of quality control index, based on its new management structure.
To build customer value and trust through innovation and kaizen, we have been working hard to strengthen quality frameworks across our entire value chain. One such example was the setting up of Bridgestone’s Global Quality Management Committee (GQMC), a new organization tasked with strengthening governance and attaining our quality mission statement goals on establishing an effective system of chief quality officers (CQO) and implementing more sophisticated PDCA cycles across all levels of the company. In addition, each Strategic Business Unit conducts both internal and external audits to ensure product safety by observing and analyzing production processes.
Global CQO Organization
As part of our quest to transform from a “product out” to a “market in” business model, the Bridgestone Group has sought to better utilize our Voice of Customers (VOC) and Voice of Business Partners (VOB) and incorporate the management system into our drive to increase customer value. Each of our markets manage VOC/VOB to suit local conditions and optimize the products and services we offer our customers.
In Japan, our customer summary system collects VOC from the Customer Communication Center and other relevant departments and shares that information to help improve the quality of our products and services.
Bridgestone Americas and Bridgestone EMEA have used commercial market segmentation surveys, and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to help ascertain the degree of consumer satisfaction with tire patterns and devise future product plans. Specific customer value indicators (CVI) have also proved to be useful practical indicators.
In the Asia Pacific region, Bridgestone conducts periodic market research on competing products to aid new product development.
We are determined to continue building a solution-driven business model, and strengthening VOC/VOB management, because we firmly believe these activities will help us improve product and service quality and creates added value for our customers.
Quality assurance across our value chain
Entire value chain
Improve quality assurance in development process
To avoid quality issues in development, the Bridgestone Group standardizes its development process at all technical centers and enhances various process check systems to improve development quality.
We introduced a Development Quality Assurance Consulting process in Japan in 2011 to identify and solve potential problems in all development processes, and we standardized development in all product development groups to help address problems identified during regular consulting. In 2016, we expanded assessments to standardize the development process for production technology.
In 2015 in the Americas, Bridgestone adopted a new six-gate product development process, which considers product development based on various customer demands and overall brand risk. In 2017, we expanded this process to Latin America.
We also introduced new gate-based product development in Europe as well, expanding that to include original equipment (OE) tires fitted on new cars in 2016, and the region’s entire new development in 2017.
Back in Japan, Bridgestone is improving its tire stamping assurance system from a compliance perspective. Tire stamping assurance has been a target for improvement in our medium-term plan since 2015 as we seek to improve our tire stamping assurance systems. In 2018, we extended this practice beyond Japan to cover global working teams in the Americas, Europe, China and Asia.
Quality assurance process for development
Quality Assurance in raw materials procurement
As a global business operator, the Bridgestone Group procures raw materials and outsourced products from a wide range of suppliers. Working with our multiple suppliers, we have been able to establish Group-wide approval criteria for raw materials and outsourced products to ensure superior quality.
We are proud of the great relationship we have built up with our suppliers, but we are also careful to continuously monitor the quality of goods received, conduct supplier audits, and pursue other initiatives to ensure suppliers maintain solid quality assurance structures and products consistently meet our quality requirements.
Our Global Business Support and affiliated teams in the Americas, Europe and Japan are working together to build a global raw materials supply management system. In 2017, the Bridgestone Group created a framework for periodic evaluation of suppliers and is currently discussing approaches to problems and evaluation criteria for supplier audits.
Quality assurance in outsourcing
Our Global Business Support and Strategic Business Units are strengthening cooperation on outsourced products to improve global quality assurance. In 2016, Bridgestone launched an initiative to improve the three core outsourcing competencies of detection, selection, and deterrence to help enhance our management of outsource suppliers.
We introduced compliance procedures for original equipment manufacturing (OEM) work and assessed their effectiveness. In 2017, we extended the scope of this practice, and improved our audit check sheet to help minimize the risk of outsourcing on quality.
We conducted quarterly sample inspections to prevent undeclared changes in tube values. In 2017, we began outsourcing management according to revised guidelines centered on key performance indicators (KPIs).
We began applying revised contract terms regarding compensation for abnormalities caused by outsourcing suppliers from 2017 as contracts are renewed.
Quality assurance in tire manufacturing
In the face of changing demands from consumers and vehicle manufacturers, and megatrends influencing automotive mobility, we at the Bridgestone Group strive to improve quality in our global manufacturing processes so that we can continue to provide innovative, industry-leading products for our customers. We also conduct inspections based on the Group quality standards at all our manufacturing facilities.
We seek to visualize potential quality risks at our tire production plants and proactively implement preventive action using Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) quality assurance methods and focus on Critical to Quality (CTQ) inputs. We identify potential global quality improvements after analyzing our potential risk reduction activities and strive to implement those improvements through our medium-term plans. Going forward, we intend to make further quality improvements across our global operations.
Bridgestone has promoted early detection of potential problems requiring global and rapid market action, and created a rapid and accurate risk management system designed to facilitate accurate judgments and market action. We continue to nurture an attentive quality and safety culture so that we can offer consumers the highest quality products that they can use safely and comfortably.
Quality Assurance in Diversified Products
The Bridgestone Group’s Diversified Products Business develops a range of products other than tires, including automotive components; conveyor belts, hoses and other industrial materials; urethane-based chemical products; drainage systems and other infrastructure-related products; bicycles and sports equipment. In 2016, we launched a quality-improvement project to reduce automotive vibration by identifying areas for improvement at production facilities and adjusting the relevant processes. We also reviewed customer feedback on sporting goods and bicycles and made significantly improvements.
We continue to proactively develop systems and processes that can help ensure the highest quality products across the board and identify areas for action by pursuing determined quality improvement activities.
Human resource development to promote quality
Pass on manufacturing technology and tradition
The Bridgestone Group believes it is vitally important to pass on our traditional commitment to quality and high level of acquired skill to younger generations by providing quality and product safety training for all employees utilizing e-learning and/or lecture program. For our operators and inspectors who require specific knowledge and techniques for their work, we conduct training program including quality control and safety education.
When we implemented our Quality Mission Statement in 2016, key persons were assigned to train all employees across the Group’s global operations. All Group departments conduct activities based on the Statement and promote improvements that help build new customer value and trust. These activities and best practices are shared with other operations to raise the caliber of quality-related activities across the Bridgestone Group.
Moving forward, we intend to continue developing human resources across the Group to help ensure customers receive the highest quality products and services.
Bridgestone Global Total Quality Management Conference
The Bridgestone Group has held a Global Total Quality Management (TQM) Conference every year since 2010 involving Bridgestone and all our global business units. The Global TQM Conference aims to enhance the level of quality activities and improve quality awareness by sharing positive examples from each region and SBU.
Utilization of market quality information
The Bridgestone Group collects and analyzes data relating to failures and incidents of tire products in Japan and overseas. Our tires are driven on roads worldwide, so we are careful to promptly share the information we collect and the results of tire analysis with all relevant departments to help improve tire quality. In certain cases, the actual tire is collected for detailed analysis, which can prove useful for improving early-stage quality.
For example, in cases of passenger car tire wear, we proactively collect information by meeting with distributors, analyzing the actual tire, inspecting used tires, and visiting actual markets. The resulting information is then integrated, analyzed and utilized to improve quality levels and increase customer satisfaction. If review and analysis of product information indicates a potential product quality issue, each Strategic Business Unit conducts a thorough investigation and takes appropriate corrective action as necessary in accordance with our standards and in compliance with applicable law. Each Strategic Business Unit has a strict procedure to follow if we ever need to recall our products.
Going forward, we will continue to utilize our existing tools and explore other effective methods of market information analysis to help ensure customers can use our products safely and comfortably.