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Kobe Steel investing to prevent data falsification

Scandal-ridden steelmaker plans inspection automation, quality control division

TOKYO -- Kobe Steel will earmark roughly 10 billion yen ($88 million) for capital improvements starting in 2018 aimed at ensuring that its manipulation of product quality data cannot be repeated.

Inspection data will be recorded automatically at the Moka factory in Tochigi Prefecture, the Daian plant in Mie Prefecture and other facilities handling aluminum and copper products at the heart of the scandal, as well as at group companies such as Shinko Wire Stainless, which violated Japanese Industrial Standards in 2016. Automated data entry will be introduced to scandal-free segments later.

For processes that cannot be automated, multiple employees will record data to ensure accuracy. Employees were able to manipulate information because some inspection data is still entered by hand.

Production yields at the Daian factory and other plants are declining due to the slow replacement of old equipment. Kobe Steel will reduce the rate of products that fail to meet specifications by improving auxiliary equipment for heat-treating furnaces.

The Japanese steelmaker also will establish a quality control division on Jan. 1 with broad powers to inspect each segment and subsidiary as well as continuously check the process capability of production equipment.


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