Productivity Improvement in the Value Chain
TEL Quality Global No.1
Knowing our customers' real needs enables us to attain world-leading product quality.
Approach to Quality
We have defined its approach to quality as follows:
“The Tokyo Electron Group seeks to provide the highest quality products and services. This pursuit of quality begins at development and continues through all manufacturing, installation, maintenance, sales and support processes. Our employees must work to deliver quality products, quality services and innovative solutions that enable customer success”.
We strive to implement own-process assurance systems by carrying out strict risk management and development/design inspections beginning at the development stage and also by ensuring verification of customers’ operations using simulations. We have also built an important component traceability system as part of our effort to strengthen our information environment. By making it possible to use the One Platform*¹ to view such information as past problems and adjustment values used during manufacturing and assembly, as well as important component inspection information from suppliers, we have successfully strengthened our risk management (FMEA*²) to prevent various types of non-conformance. We believe that thorough implementation of these own-process assurance systems and prevention makes it possible for employees to focus on high value-added business operations and promote initiatives that lead to Shift Left*³ (front-loading). We will continue to strive to provide high-quality and high-value-added products and services to our customers.
*1 One Platform: A platform that makes it possible to easily view multiple different systems as seamless information sources in order to effectively and efficiently achieve traceability
*2 FMEA: Failure mode and effects analysis. Method to identify, prevent and mitigate risks in advance.
*3 Shift Left: Refer to Sustainability Report p.17
Focusing on quality to satisfy customers, meet production schedules, and reduce required maintenance even with temporary cost increases.
Quality Design and Assurance
Building quality into products and assure in-process quality control, from the design and development phase throughout every process.
Quality and Trust
When a quality-related problem occurs, working as a team to perform thorough root cause analysis and resolve problems as quickly as possible.
Ensuring customer satisfaction and trust by establishing quality goals and performance indicators and by implementing continual improvement using the PDCA cycle.
Listening to stakeholder expectations, providing timely product quality information, and making adjustments as needed.
The quality policy listed here is shared by all TEL Group companies. The policy is linked to the three focus areas (i.e., enhancing product competitiveness, reinforcing responsiveness to customers, and strengthening earnings power) for attaining the medium term management plan’s GT2025 goals, and it has direct bearings on each employee’s action. That is why the policy governs not only our manufacturing plants but also our head office and group companies’ sites in Japan and abroad. A TEL Quality Policy poster has been produced in Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified characters), and Korean and distributed to be posted at TEL Group sites throughout the world.
TEL has a quality assurance framework headed by the Representative Director and President. Quality improvement, as well as other important quality issues and other shared concerns, are addressed through collaboration amongst TEL presidents and the Quality General Managers (GMs). To ensure efficient and stable quality control, TEL has five working groups in place, including the Quality council, Engineering council, Production council, Purchasing council, and EHS council. These working groups collaborate to pursue organization-wide quality assurance activities across all divisions.
We have been promoting ISO 9001 quality management system certification, and all of our manufacturing companies within our group have completed the transition to ISO 9001:2015.ve achieved this certification to date.
ISO 9001 Certified Plants and Offices
Tokyo Electron Technology Solutions
Fujii Office／Hosaka Office
Tokyo Electron Kyushu
TEL Magnetic Solutions
Tokyo Electron Korea
Tokyo Electron Miyagi
TEL Manufacturing and Engineering of America
Tokyo Electron (Kunshan)
We are focused on process improvement activities (PCS*) using a statistical method. Invariably, our customers’ production sites require limited variations in quality between equipment, accurate process repeatability and high productivity. To meet these requirements, we ask our suppliers who handle specific important components to understand the importance of PCS and cooperate with us. Putting the information acquired from various types of important components into control diagrams and carrying out trend analyses together with our suppliers allows us to quickly detect changes in manufacturing processes and take any necessary steps. These supplier activities and the continuous implementation of PCS activities in our manufacturing processes are leading to the suppression of component quality variability and maintenance/improvement of manufacturing processes that produce quality products, ultimately helping us provide products surpassing customer expectations. Since new technologies are being created daily and customer needs are constantly increasing, manufacturing processes that handle new important components need to be constantly reexamined and improved. Our products consist of tens of thousands of components, and the task of selecting important components that are especially relevant to customers’ production and tallying and analyzing them regularly requires many hours. To optimize and streamline this task, we reexamine our operational flow, including the adoption of automation, and improve our systems by collecting information from customers, holding discussions among our manufacturing sites in Japan, and interviewing our suppliers. By continuously carrying out these activities that incorporate the concept of Shift Left, we are striving to improve our productivity further.
Ensuring Self-Process Assurance Systems and Promoting “Shift Left”
In order to improve the quality of products, it is important to prevent non-conformance from occurring in upstream processes and to ensure thorough quality control in each process so that nonconforming products are not allowed to flow into later processes. From this perspective, we promote activities focused on self-process assurance systems. In particular, we aim to improve the level of completion of product quality by implementing thorough risk detection and mitigation measures (FMEA*) from the initial stages of product design, as well as carrying out thorough inspections in each process and conducting verification using simulation.
Improving the precision of each process and reducing reworking costs in these activities for self-process assurance systems have enabled us to create high-value-added technologies and products in the upstream processes, leading to the promotion of the Shift Left concept. We are also promoting Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) by using self-process assurance systems to comprehensively manage and analyze all processes from product planning, development, design and production through to service, in an effort to facilitate the earlier release of products, enhance operational efficiency, improve quality and reduce costs.
* FMEA: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. Method to grasp risks in advance, prevent and mitigate
Measures to Prevent Quality Problems from Occurring and Recurring
To comply with ISO and EN*¹ safety standards and achieve higher safety levels, we have established our own design rules for each of our products. As an equipment manufacturer, we have developed systems for manufacturing products, which include safety considerations. We have other systems in place for responding to equipment design and production non-conformance and any occupational accidents.
In the event of an accident, we use our TIRS*² accident reporting system to distribute information to safety and quality personnel in each division, officers and management, including senior management. An accident investigation is also conducted immediately to identify the cause and plan preventive measures.
We use a proprietary system called QA-BOX*³ to share information on equipment quality and any major nonconformance across all quality departments in accordance with our operating rules. Measures obtained from the results of an accident investigation are promptly applied, not only to the problem equipment but also to relevant equipment operated by other customers, and revisions are also made to the current design standards. Additionally, we work to prevent a recurrence of the accident by analyzing the factors that led to the human error and creating procedures that are easier to understand.
In operating “QA-BOX”, we validate the commonalities among accidents and share the issues and countermeasures in regularly scheduled meetings attended by the Quality General Manager (GMs) responsible for various types of equipment. This allows us to examine various approaches to prevent similar non-conformances from occurring in any of our equipment. Further more, by managing the progress of the cases shared in QA-BOX and validating the effects of the measures, we ensure the implementation of effective measures and reduce the number of equipment-caused accidents.
*1 EN: European Norm. Uniform standard for the European Union complimenting parts of technical standards not stated in European Commission directives (“New Approach” directives).
*2 TIRS: TEL Incident Report System
*3 QA-BOX: Tool for the sharing and horizontal expansion of important quality-related information within our company
*4 Q-VICS: Quality Valuable Information Chain System
*5 FCN (Field Change Notice): Refers to general recall notice
Initiatives with Suppliers
Continuously improving quality based on strong partnerships with suppliers is essential for providing high-quality products quickly to the market. Since fiscal year 2001, we have conducted its unique Supplier Total Quality Assessments (STQA) in an effort to ensure our suppliers properly understand the level of quality expected from them. Before starting a new business with suppliers, an STQA is conducted via self-assessment to evaluate their product quality, costs and information security. The assessment also includes their CSR initiatives, including human rights, ethics, safety and the environment. If a risk is identified, we visit the supplier and confirm the area of non-conformance on-site. Once our approach to quality has been shared with the supplier, we request that they plan and implement improvement measures, and we provide continuous support until all of them have been completed. In addition, we also conduct audits once every three years for suppliers who handle important components and for suppliers where quality issues have been found. Also, in the course of holding regular meetings with the leaders of various manufacturing sites in Japan who use STQA, a system shared by our whole Group, we share supplier-related information and discuss measures to resolve issues.
Additionally, Tokyo Electron Kyushu is working with its suppliers on its own improvement activities. For suppliers judged to require focused evaluation, we add technically focused check items to STQA, based on past case examples of non-conformance, and carry out assessment to prevent recurrence. By continuing these activities, we technically strengthen preventive measures and increase their effectiveness, linking them to further quality improvement.
Having identified reduction of costs for dealing with defective components and unit parts at customer sites as a material issue, since March 2020, the quality assurance division at Tokyo Electron Technology Solutions have been promoting quality improvement activities focused on a single point. As part of these activities, we categorized defects at all business units (BUs) by cause, and found that 31% were due to inadequate internal evaluation and 15% were related to our suppliers. There was also a tendency for defects attributable to inadequate internal evaluation to be higher for equipment using new technology and for large equipment such as flat panel display (FPDs), and defects related to our suppliers to be higher for other equipment.
Based on analysis of the present situation, each BU raises quality improvements that warrant a concerted effort, and proceeds with measures while considering what quality should be like. For example, at DSP* Dept. (ES BU) and FPD BU, technical and quality assurance divisions cooperate with suppliers from the planning stage for new equipment, and by using FMEA to extract specific evaluation details, conduct evaluations that take into account the environment in which the customer will use the equipment. TFF BU and TS BU, meanwhile, have been conducting activities aimed at achieving zero defects for components and unit parts with a high frequency of defects, and we are gradually seeing the results of these activities. ES BU and CT BU are also conducting their own quality improvement activities using the “single point of focus” approach in an effort to resolve important matters. Together with our suppliers, we will continue striving to further improve the quality of our components and unit parts by continuously rolling out initiatives, including the “single point of focus” approach.
* DSP: Dry Surface Preparation
TEL is striving to enhance the awareness of every employee toward quality by conducting various education programs. In addition to the basic education on quality that new employees receive, we have also globally rolled out PDCA Education and other programs that target all TEL group employees. In PDCA Education, employees learn about the need for continuous improvement through the four processes of plan, do, check, and act. As of FY2020, 84% of employees had completed this program.
We also implement our own education program, called TEL 6-Step, for employees closely involved in quality control, such as developers, designers, quality managers, and service personnel, through which they acquire a problem-solving model to handle important issues. The program is a modified version of the eight discipline (8D) problem-solving method*¹, widely used in quality control, customized to replace our problem-solving process. The program cultivates the ability to resolve problems quickly and to take measures preventing recurrence, by thoroughly investigating the true nature of problems, and determining the technical factors and root causes. As of FY2020, approximately 5,800 employees had attended this program. We also conduct group training targeted at quality control leaders to provide them exercise-based learning opportunities for resolving quality-related issues to further enhance their work improvement skills at production and development sites.
Moreover, so that employees can tackle quality improvement autonomously, we advocate QC certification*³ and encourage them to acquire fundamental skills. Since fiscal year 2012, the number of QC certified employees has increased yearly to approximately 2,400 as of FY2020.
*1 8D problem-solving method: A method for solving problems in quality improvement through eight disciplines or processes
*2 QC certification: Quality management certification operated by the Japanese Standards Association and the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers. The total number of certified people nationwide exceeds 580,000 (as of September 2019)