Product Quality

Pursuing Quality at the Source –GD3 Design Review–

Tokyo Electron(TEL) has adopted a front-loading approach to improve product quality. Specifically, we use the GD3 (GD cubed) management method of problem prevention to ensure thorough risk identification from the concept design stage. Using this method, the designer and reviewer review each stage from design and evaluation to full production and identify risks, focusing on changes from the previous designs.

When using the GD3 method, we adjust techniques and work environments to improve our ability to identify risks. To achieve a high quality review, we need high quality reviewers, so we request the participation of internal experts in the review process. At the same time, our basic rule is to assign additional people from each division to identify risks from many different angles. To improve the efficiency of discussions, we have created search tools to find past instances of problems and we use mind mapping to be more imaginative in risk identification.

Not only do we ensure full implementation of the GD3 review process internally, we also recommend the method to suppliers to help further enhance quality in the upstream processes.

Quality Education

TEL believes that every employee needs to have a high awareness and understanding of quality. This is why we conduct a range of education programs including the fundamental quality education that all new employees takes.

For example, to enable employees to improve their knowledge and skills in the area of quality control, and to improve the quality of their work, we encourage them to obtain external quality certification through the QM/QC Exam (Quality Management and Quality Control Examination). Administered by the Japanese Standards Association and the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, the QM/QC Exam is a major quality certification with more than 440,000 certification holders in Japan as of March 2017. Since fiscal 2012, this initiative has increased the number of certified employees each year to a total of 1,579 as of March 2017.

We also educate our employees around the world about the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle. Through e-learning courses, employees learn efficient process management using the iterative four steps of the PDCA cycle. As of April 2017, 89% of our employees had completed the courses.

In addition, we have an education program called TEL 6-Step, a problem-solving model for serious problems aimed at employees in production and service divisions. This is a customized version of the eight discipline (8D) problem-solving method* widely used in quality control. The TEL 6-step program enables systematic and reliable analysis of problems to determine the root cause, leading to quick implementation of countermeasures and prevention of similar problems. We currently use web-based training for delivery, and as of May 2017, 2,751 employees had completed the program.

* 8D problem solving method: A method for solving problems in quality improvement through eight disciplines or processes

Response to Quality Problems

TEL complies with ISO and EN safety standards, as well as establishing design rules applicable to its own equipment to achieve the highest level of safety possible.

In addition to developing systems to manufacture safe products, we fulfill our mission as an equipment manufacturer by developing systems for responding to design- or manufacturing-related issues or accidents arising from operation-related problems. If an accident occurs, we use our S-VICS accident reporting system to report and share information with all levels of management, from safety and quality personnel in each division all the way to senior management. We immediately conduct an accident investigation to identify the cause and plan preventive measures. In addition to implementing the measures on the problem equipment, we use a proprietary system called QABOX to quickly implement the measures on equipment operated by other customers and reflect those measures in design standards in operation.