In Japan, more houses are starting to use high thermal insulation products, and consumer needs for health and comfort are rising. Meanwhile, a look at the world reveals that standards of living are rising, particularly in developing countries, and markets seeking the values we create are expanding. While the values that each market seeks from our company differ, we will pay careful attention to each and every one of them to offer new values and joy to the people who live and work there. To make this happen, we will continue being extremely particular with and committed to our monozukuri efforts.
Carrying out a monozukuri process that pursues high quality and technology
In our Survey, Research and Development Division, engineers and researchers delve into their specialized fields to make new discoveries and develop more advanced technologies. One such organization is Central Research Laboratory, where surveys, research and verification tests are conducted in fields necessary to business, including window engineering and architectural physics. Members of Central Research Laboratory work on joint projects with external research institutes to further research that can lead to business expansions and create new value in the future. Additionally, the Evaluation and Verification Division conducts user verifications to check products under real everyday life conditions. It also conducts field verifications under conditions that recreate real-life natural environments to thoroughly check a product's ease of use, safety and durability. The information and challenges that arise from the verifications are then sent to the Survey, Research and Development Division so that they can use the feedback to develop products that meet user needs and deliver monozukuri with all-round high added-value. Furthermore, our Central Testing Laboratory is certified by the JNLA system and fulfills the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission for testing laboratories. A quality assurance system is established at the center through strict testing from a third-party stance as well as a trusted testing system.
Increasing user satisfaction by enhancing overall quality
Kurobe in Toyama is home to three technology centers: the YKK AP R&D Center, the Value Verification Center, and the Partners Support Studio. Approximately 370 employees work at the YKK AP R&D Center and are involved in research, development, verification, and testing. They delve into research and deepen their knowledge in their specialized fields to deliver high quality monozukuri and propose advanced technologies. The Value Verification Center is where we verify product value from a user's perspective during the development process. The value of the product under development is verified through various tests, including: user verification with consumer monitors to check how the product is used; field verification in which various natural environments are recreated; analysis and simulation; and installation verification. Additionally, in March 2019, we opened the Partners Support Studio, a facility where we propose our company's products, technologies and installation methods to professional users. These three centers unite to present a one-stop location where we can propose technological information and product value, which is then used to create new value.
Integrating user needs and opinions into product development
During the user verification process, we work together with consumer monitors during various stages of development to check a product's ease of use and its safety by utilizing actual living spaces or company facilities. We strive to make improvements every day by integrating into the product what the consumers notice during the verification process, together with their opinions and requests. The monitors include people of both genders and various age groups, such as children, adults, and the elderly, as they all have different physical attributes. We ask them to operate the products so that we can check their safety and usability. Old age simulation is a process in which employees involved in a product's development or verification wear a kit designed to recreate an elderly person's physical and cognitive attributes when checking a product. Furthermore, people in development sit in wheelchairs themselves and the ideas they gain are put through repeated verifications with consumer monitors who use wheelchairs. In this way, we develop specialized bar handles that wheelchair users can reach from a stable posture when opening or closing the entrance sliding door. Based on facts from real-life situations, we turn information on safety and ease of use into explicit knowledge and use it to develop products that incorporate greater consumer perspectives.
Formulation of the Product Safety Basic Policy and publishing information on product accidents
Our company formulated the YKK AP Product Safety Basic Policy in 2008, which is comprised of the Product Safety Pledge and the Product Safety Action Guidelines. We did so to contribute to establishing a culture of product safety as promoted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), as well as to bring the entire company together and work as one to actively implement product safety measures so that we can provide our customers with safety and security. Under this policy, everyone – from management executives to each and every employee – has been engaged in efforts to construct a company-wide product safety system and to swiftly and appropriately handle any product accidents that may occur. In 2009, based on the action guidelines, we began publishing information on our website regarding product accidents that were reported to government agencies, such as METI and the Consumer Affairs Agency. With these efforts, we are striving to prevent similar accidents from reoccurring.
Additionally, YKK AP was selected as the recipient of the METI Minister's Award at the 11th Best Contributor to Product Safety Awards in the Large Manufacturer and Importer Category (sponsored by METI) in 2017. This is awarded to manufacturing businesses in recognition of actively promoting product safety, and it is the third time we have been its recipient following the 4th and 8th awards in 2010 and 2014 respectively. YKK AP was certified as a Gold Contributor to Product Safety, which is an honor given to companies that have won the METI Minister's Award three or more times.
Product safety measures Gold Contributor to Product Safety