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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.
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.
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.
We are working on manufacturing that prioritizes product safety by reflecting on past product safety issues, including the incidents with FF-type kerosene heaters.
The commitment to ensuring product safety is clearly stipulated in Panasonic's Code of Conduct.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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)|
In fiscal 2013, Panasonic issued the following product recalls to prevent 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:
**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.
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