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Lenovo adopts Japanese-style quality checks at PC plants

Stricter inspections put in place in China for Japan-bound products

Lenovo's plant in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, is able to assemble a large variety of products in small quantities.

TOKYO -- Lenovo Group has introduced rigorous Japanese-style product quality checks at factories in China to address complaints from customers in Japan.

The Chinese computer maker has brought some of the proprietary inspection procedures developed at a plant in Japan's Yamagata Prefecture to six factories in China, including ones in Shenzhen and near Shanghai, and added them for laptop and desktop computers slated for shipment to Japan. The inspections now include ensuring that stickers are placed straight and that screens are free of fingerprint marks.

The production sites in China previously made sure devices start as they are supposed to but let through products with tiny scratches or bent packages. Under pressure from unhappy customers in Japan, Lenovo has decided to beef up inspections in China. Personnel will shuttle between the Chinese factories and the Japanese plant so expertise can be shared.

The Yamagata facility was an NEC computer factory until Lenovo acquired the Japanese company's PC business in 2011. The site now builds PCs for corporate customers in Japan. The Chinese manufacturer, which has 40 production locations worldwide, will consider bringing the Japanese-style standards to other facilities and using them for products to be sold in markets other than Japan.

Lenovo saw its global PC shipments slip 1.2% to 54.8 million units in 2017, ceding the top spot to U.S. rival HP, according to research firm IDC. The Chinese group was successful in attracting customers with competitive prices made possible by mass production, but now seeks to enhance quality and brand appeal.

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