LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere.
We are committed to eradicating serious product-related accidents and ensuring superior quality in manufacturing by consistently improving our product quality management systems.
LIXIL firmly believes that product quality is the key to earning the trust of our customers and society. We have stipulated improving the quality and safety of our products as one of our material issues. We have published the LIXIL Quality Principles in 14 languages to ensure the continuous pursuit of highest-quality manufacturing and services in various countries around the world. Serious product-related problems make customers anxious and adversely affect our reputation. That is why we pursue product quality management initiatives such as confirming legislative compliance based on the LIXIL Product Safety Principles.
LIXIL works to develop robust company-wide product quality management systems and resolve any quality-related issues at the initiative of our Safety and Quality Management Division overseen by the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who reports directly to the company CEO. LIXIL International oversees product quality outside Japan, with product-specific Chief Operations Officers (COOs) managing product quality directly.
The company-wide quality management conference, which conducts regular management reviews, has been working to strengthen quality control by increasing the number of reviews conducted to once a quarter starting in FYE2021.
To ensure customer safety, LIXIL is focused on enhancing quality across the full lifecycle of all products, from development through to design, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and after-sales support.
1) Design and Development
During the development stage, we aim to strengthen our ability to pinpoint fresh customer value by introducing techniques such as fault tree analysis (FTA), failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), and design review based on failure mode (DRBFM), which are used globally to assess risks that may arise when using products.
Furthermore, in addition to customer comfort and ease of maintenance, we promote product design and development that achieves both environmental consciousness and universal design that is easy for everyone to use. We are also seeking to ensure accurate recognition of and compliance with local and international laws and regulations as we continue to pursue collaborative development projects globally.
2) Materials & Parts Procurement
We set quality standards to which our business partners must adhere. We also design joint activity themes to help resolve quality-related issues whenever necessary.
3) Commercialization, Production & Sales
We only commercialize products that have passed rigorous stress tests and quality checks for durability, weather resistance, and other properties. Products that require specific labeling to indicate conformance with safety and quality standards are clearly marked in our catalogues and other sales materials as meeting required criteria.
We also strive to provide better, readily understandable product explanations, including experience-based showroom displays and online videos, to ensure that customers select appropriate products.
4) Responding to Product Defects & Issues
We have a system in place for incorporating customer opinions with regard to product-related accidents and defects. We thoroughly investigate the cause of any problem via the system and implement improvements, not only in product design, but across all processes from manufacturing to distribution. To prevent product defects and problems, the process covers not only pursuing organizational management to ensure improvements are fully integrated, but also developing governance frameworks to promote better management.
In product development, LIXIL categorizes the various processes from research and development to commercialization and merchandising into “stages” and places “gates” between transitions to subsequent stages. Under this system, we ensure evaluations are carried out and management decisions are made properly. To raise the level of completion in design, quality, and production, the development, manufacturing, and sales departments collaborate with each other at each stage of the development process. The criteria for gate evaluation are also re-examined on an ongoing basis to promote the development of even higher-quality products.
LIXIL works to build a culture that focuses on enhancing quality through training and awareness-raising activities. We measure the level of awareness of quality via a survey of all employees in Japan and work to generate further improvements.
LIXIL has set up a quality education system to provide training on enhancing quality and ensuring product safety. In FYE2022, we conducted training sessions on managing quality and preventing product-related accidents for approximately 300 manager-grade employees in order to raise awareness of quality further among our company leaders. As part of this effort, we use examples of past quality defects and product-related accidents along with the actual products and descriptions of background factors to promote understanding of the fundamental cause of product safety issues.
We also provide product safety education for new employees, and offer educational opportunities for technical-stream employees on how to observe Japan’s Electrical Appliances and Materials Safety Act, Building Standards Act, and other relevant laws.
We strive to prevent quality defects and accidents from happening or reoccurring by identifying risks that can cause defects and accidents across the company, strengthening employee awareness, and ultimately encouraging activities that secure cross-sectional improvements.
We use inhouse social media platforms to post quality-related policies, CEO messages, and case studies as part of our year-round awareness-raising activities. In FYE2021, we created the LIXIL Quality Journal to help consistently raise employee awareness on quality-related topics. The journal highlights initiatives and stories of departments that have used their mistakes to make improvements.
Our Product Quality Forum held each November rewards outstanding improvement-focused activities chosen from among LIXIL group companies worldwide. Thanks to the consistent conveying of information and other awareness-raising activities, we have seen an increase in recent years in customer-oriented improvement activities that focus more earnestly on customer needs. In FYE2022, the forum was conducted online for a worldwide audience and attracted approximately 3,600 viewers.
We conduct quality awareness surveys of all employees in Japan in order to raise awareness of product quality and promote quality-enhancing initiatives. Based on the survey results, we then formulate action plans for each department that include capital investments designed to improve quality. Thanks to progress made in each department, the overall survey score has improved for the second consecutive year.
The entire company is joining forces to improve product quality and safety in a more open environment by, for instance, using awareness surveys to increase opportunities for leaders and other team members to communicate on quality-related issues.
At LIXIL in Japan, whenever a product-related accident occurs, the product quality department collects information within 24 hours of receiving notification, and sends an emergency notice to relevant departments. If an accident that could have a serious impact occurs, the customer service center reports it directly to senior management to ensure a swift response. The center also cooperates with other departments to formulate on-site responses and thoroughly investigate accidents. We submit a report to relevant government authorities within 10 days of an accident occurring as stipulated in Japan’s Consumer Product Safety Act. We also seek to prevent a recurrence by reflecting any lessons learned from accidents in product design, and proactively developing technologies that help ensure accident prevention and safety. Regarding suspected legal infringements, our technology or other relevant departments will ascertain if an infringement has actually occurred, and submit a report to the authorities concerned. We follow a similar process for suspected legal infringements as we do for product-related accidents, namely, we conduct a thorough investigation of the cause and implement appropriate countermeasures to prevent a recurrence.
Today, houses are designed to last much longer than in the past. In recognition of these changing trends, we offer a maximum 10-year LIXIL Long-term Guarantee Service that enables customers to use products safely over a longer period of time.
We publish product-specific instructions for all major products on the website to ensure safe product use, along with videos illustrating how to look after and clean products to ensure appropriate use.
As part of our product safety-related activities, we have developed a safety training program in cooperation with NPO the Association of Corporation and Education (ACE) for elementary school students, and provided this program free of charge to educators. The program encourages children to learn about hidden dangers in the home, such as accidents in the bathroom or stumbling on the stairs, and to think about and implement ways to prevent accidents.
We also conducted outreach classes on the theme “Think about Safety in the Home,” which attracted roughly 5,500 participants over a total of 181 sessions. In FYE2022, we conducted nine classes at four school for 326 participants.
The program won an Award of Excellence at the 9th Commendation on Instructional Materials for Consumer Education in 2014 conducted by the National Institute on Consumer Education (NICE).
We help consumers think of ways to prevent accidents at home by giving lectures at product safety seminars hosted by the National Federation of Regional Women’s Organizations and other consumer organizations, covering topics such as accidents in the bathroom or tripping over steps or falling down. We have given 76 such lectures to approximately 7,370 people to date.
In FYE2022, we held 10 sessions and attracted 510 participants while always observing COVID-19 safety protocols, such as restrictions on attendee numbers. We also set up online product safety seminars and on-site lessons at elementary schools in cooperation with non-profit organizations.