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Customer:Product Quality and Safety

Policy

Product Quality Basic Concepts

In an effort to embody its basic management philosophy, Panasonic regards its product quality policy as being to "serve our true customers throughout the supply of products and services that will meet and satisfy the needs both of our customers and of society at large."

To realize that product quality policy, we are committed to the measures set out below.

  1. Accurately matching product quality to the needs of customers and society
  2. Establishing a consistent product quality management system-from product planning, design and manufacture to use and consumption through to disposal-deploying product quality improvement activities based on collaboration and cooperation between all divisions
  3. Accurately and sensitively ascertaining the real needs of customers and society and, possessing the technologies and skills to proactively incorporate those real needs into the manufacturing process, working to cultivate personnel who have the mindset of adhering to what is of benefit for customers and society.
  4. Complying with laws, related legislation and regulations and the various standards appertaining to product quality.

Responsible Executive and Framework

Panasonic has a Chief Quality Officer (CQO) system.
Director in charge: Tsuyoshi Nomura, Managing Director (as of July 2013)
Each Company has built a self-regulated management structure that enables a self-contained quality assurance system under the supervision of CQOs.

Rules and System

Quality Management System

We have prepared a publication called Quality Management System Development Guidelines so that all Panasonic Group companies can build their own self-contained quality assurance programs. Each Group company formulates a Panasonic Quality Management System (P-QMS) These initiatives are intended to bring about ongoing quality improvements, the prevention of quality problems and a reduction in quality variations.

In fiscal 2013, the Quality Management System Development Guidelines were expanded and updated to make P-QMS compatible with the systems solutions product business area, which is a growth field for Panasonic.

Product Safety Initiatives

We are working on manufacturing that prioritizes product safety by reflecting on past product safety issues, including the incidents with FF-type kerosene heaters.

Panasonic Code of Conduct (excerpts)

The commitment to ensuring product safety is clearly stipulated in Panasonic's Code of Conduct.

Chapter 2

II-2. Product Safety
(1) Priority on Safety
We will give the utmost priority to product safety in all design, development, manufacturing and marketing and sales activities. We will also strive to ensure safety in all our related activities, ranging from product installation to after-sales maintenance and repair.
(2) Provision of Information
To ensure that our products are used properly, thus preventing possible accidents, we will appropriately provide our customers with easy-to-understand instructions and explanations about proper operation and safe use.
We will disclose information of our environmental initiatives.
(3) Post-accident Measures
If we receive information regarding the safety of our products, we will investigate promptly to identify the cause(s). If we conclude that there may be a safety problem, we will cooperate fully and transparently with public authorities, taking prompt action where necessary to remove serious threats to public health and safety and to prevent any recurrence.

Panasonic Code of Conduct:"Product Safety"
http://panasonic.net/corporate/philosophy/code/11.html

Basic Policy Regarding Autonomous Code of Conduct for Product Safety (Excerpts)

*This basic policy was approved in a resolution of the Board of Directors at a meeting held on June 27, 2007, at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (the company's name at that time).

Based on the Basic Management Philosophy, Panasonic and its group companies believe that reassuring customers on the safety of the products it produces and sells is a key management issue. Recognizing our social responsibility, we have formulated the Basic Policy Regarding Autonomous Code of Conduct for Product Safety, as shown below. We make every effort to make sure our products are safe, putting the customer first and ensuring the utmost in integrity.

  1. Strictly follow laws and regulations
  2. Establish a corporate culture of ensuring product safety
  3. Create inherently safe product designs
  4. Prevent accidents caused by improper use
  5. Maintain quality assurance system to ensure product safety
  6. Compile and disclose data on product accidents
  7. Respond to product accidents

Basic Policy Regarding Autonomous Code of Conduct for Product Safety
http://panasonic.co.jp/company/philosophy/conduct/qualitypolicy/

*Japanese only

Stengthening the Groupwide Basis for Product Safety

For manufacturing that prioritizes product safety, we reorganized the Groupwide General Product Safety Committee in 2012, under which a Safety Technology Working Group and a Safety Standards Working Group were established. As a result, the development of safety technologies that were worked on out of remorse over the FF-type kerosene heater incidents in 2005, and the activities to maintain product safety standards, will steadily take hold and become permanent.

1. Activities of the Safety Technology Working Group

To take into account cases where customers use a product beyond its intended usage in the design stage, the Safety Technology Working Group developed scientific evaluation methods, such as accelerated aging tests to determine the durability of the materials, and collected data from which they produced a database. In fiscal 2013, they developed a simulation technique to estimate the life of solder and experimental methods for superaccelerated aging.

In addition, we have reached the stage where not only AV equipment but also white goods, such as room air conditioners and refrigerators, are beginning to be Internet-connected. Ensuring product security has become increasingly more important to safeguard the information assets held in those products. Regarding product security as part of product safety, Panasonic developed guidelines through, for example, threat analyses and enhanced its product security training. At the same time, bases for gathering risk information were set up not only in Japan but also in Europe, and a system built so that quick and decisive measures can be taken the moment any vulnerability is detected.

2. Activities of the Safety Standards Working Group

Complying with public safety standards goes without saying, but to increase safety we established design rules as a safeguard in product R&D as the Panasonic Corporation Safety Standards (PCSS).

The knowledge gained from R&D conducted into prolonged reliability technology is reflected in PCSS, which have made the standards more stringent with regard to a number of important safety matters, including prolonged use, measures to make materials nonflammable, and preventing products from toppling over.

In 2012, the Group worked to improve product safety standards in order to prevent the risks that are expected to arise in new business fields.

With regard to the use of renewable energy, as represented by solar power generation systems, we view the power shortages caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake as a turning point to increase customer interest.

Conventional domestic products are operated by consuming electric power supplied from infrastructure, but energy creation equipment, such as solar power generation systems and fuel cells, and home storage battery systems that use Li-Ion batteries can themselves generate, accumulate and discharge electricity. From the product safety perspective they have properties that are different from conventional home appliances. For instance, this equipment operates on high-voltage, high-capacity direct current (DC). In addition, the batteries will degrade over time. Li-Ion batteries can cause unsafe events such as catching fire through overcharging. We will need to have adequate safety measures in place to deal with these events.

For this reason, we formulated the Panasonic Corporation System Safety Standards (PCSSS) in fiscal 2013 with systems including energy creation and storage management systems in mind.

Product Safety Training

Panasonic employees undergo ongoing training to assist in creating the culture in which manufacturing prioritizes product safety. Targeting the heads of business sites, product quality management study meetings for managers emphasize making product safety of paramount importance in product quality management. At product safety design training sessions aimed at managers and members of design teams in Japan and overseas, specific examples of failures from inside and outside of company are provided, and tuition given on Group-wide standards to ensure product safety and on scientific methods to prevent accidents involving product safety.

In 2012, a training DVD was made featuring a compilation of product safety failure phenomena that easily arise. Extensive use of the DVD was made in training sessions so that all technical personnel could better understand ways to prevent those phenomena from occurring.

In addition, engineers meet amongst themselves to learn in person about product safety at a Product Safety Forum, which was held on eight occasions during fiscal 2013. Know-how gained at the business division level is disseminated to engineers on a Group-wide basis.

Universal Design (UD) Policy and Measures

Universal Design
http://panasonic.net/design/ud/

UD Policy
The object of our company's UD is to provide greater consideration to more people through its products and services, thereby realizing a lively, comfortable and richer lifestyle.
6 Basic Principles of UD
We work with these six basic principles to actualize our UD Policy.
  1. Considerations for making operations easily understandable
  2. Considerations for using easy-to-understand indications and expressions
  3. Considerations for providing users with stress-free postures and movements
  4. Considerations for users' movements and space
  5. Considerations for the users' safety and peace of mind
  6. Considerations for the operating environment
Exploring New Customer Value by UD
With the aim to expand the market, we are able to not only offer convenience and comfort through our UD activities, but also introduce our products to customers who, up till now, have not been able to use these products.

Accident Report

Progress in Response to Incidents Related to FF-Type Kerosene Heaters

In 2005, five product safety incidents occurred involving FF-type kerosene heaters manufactured by Panasonic from 1985 to 1992, exposing customers to carbon monoxide poisoning that resulted in hospitalization and accidental death. Panasonic has taken these incidents very seriously and has continued to take every possible measure and precaution to prevent their reoccurrence.

Following these incidents, we commenced emergency measures and have been working to discover, repair, and replace these products. We have also been continuing a program of comprehensive public announcements through television and leaflets and by making door-to-door visits to households and businesses that may be using these corresponding heaters.

In fiscal 2013, led by the staff of the Corporate FF Customer Support & Management Division, we engaged in search activities ("local search activities") to find products that have not yet been located, to step up the recovery of products from customers who had their units inspected or repaired in the past, and to confirm the condition of products before the winter arrived.

The local search activities focused on the following:

  1. Surveys of stores that handled these products;
  2. Door-to-door surveys of all residences in the specified areas; and
  3. Requests for cooperation from local government.

We also continued to run comprehensive public announcements, particularly at the beginning and at the end of winter, which included nationwide newspaper inserts and the utilization of Town Plus, a direct mailing service, to approximately 4.3 million households in coldweather districts.

In fiscal 2013, we added 857 units to our list of products discovered or confirmed to have been discarded. In total, 116,357 units were recorded, bringing the percentage of total units recalled to 76.5% as of March 31, 2013.

We are still finding products every month, some of which are units that customers have continued to use unrepaired and without realizing their potential harm. With the help and cooperation of those involved, we will continue our search until we find every last unit.

<Graph: Ratio of identitied units* to total units sold (%)>

* Identified units includes recalled product units, units still in use after inspection and repair, units confirmed to have been disposed of by customers, etc.

Contact: Panasonic Corporation, Corporate FF Customer Support & Management Division
Toll-free number: 0120-872-773 (dedicated line in Japan for FF-type kerosene heaters)
Hours: 9am-5pm (excluding weekends and holidays)
Messages can be left on an answering service outside these hours.
Toll-free fax number: 0120-870-779 (dedicated line in Japan for FF-type kerosene heaters)

Product Recall Notifications

In fiscal 2013, Panasonic issued the following product recalls to prevent accidents.

Information about Serious Product Accidents

Based on our Basic Policy Regarding Autonomous Code of Conduct for Product Safety and the Consumer Products Safety Act in Japan, Panasonic publishes information about serious product accidents*, accidents that may have been caused by its products**, and accidents for which it is unknown whether its products were a causal factor.

*Serious product accidents are accidents as defined in the Consumer Products Safety Act, as follows:

  1. Fatal accident
  2. Accident that caused serious injury (injuries and illnesses requiring medical treatment for longer than 30 days) and/or physical disability
  3. Incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning
  4. Fire accident (confirmed as a fire by fire department)

**Accidents that may have been caused by a product are defined as accidents involving gas and kerosene equipment, and accidents involving products other than gas and kerosene equipment. Panasonic quickly publishes information about accidents that may have been caused by a product, and accidents for which it is unknown whether its products were a causal factor.

Information about Serious Product Accidents
http://panasonic.co.jp/info_psc/

*Japanese only

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