Kobe Steel un­der f ire for fudg­ing data on met­als

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - – AP

THE JA­PANESE govern­ment urged steel­maker Kobe Steel on Wed­nes­day to clar­ify the ex­tent of ma­nip­u­la­tion of in­spec­tion data on steel, alu­minium and other met­als used in a wide range of prod­ucts, re­port­edly in­clud­ing rock­ets, air­craft and cars, in the lat­est qual­ity scan­dal to rock Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Kobe Steel, Ja­pan’s third­largest steel maker, has an­nounced that be­tween Septem­ber 1, 2016 and Au­gust 31 of this year, it sold alu­minium and cop­per ma­te­ri­als us­ing fal­si­fied data on such things as the prod­ucts’ strength.

Deputy Chief Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Ko­taro Nogami told re­porters that the govern­ment was seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion about the prob­lem and try­ing to de­ter­mine its pos­si­ble im­pact on prod­uct safety. He crit­i­cised the

ap­par­ently wide­spread fal­si­fi­ca­tion of data as “in­ap­pro­pri­ate.”

About 200 of Kobe Steel’s cus­tomers, in­clud­ing some mak­ers of de­fence equip­ment, were af­fected, Nogami said. He would not iden­tify the com­pa­nies by name but sev­eral au­tomak­ers on

Wed­nes­day said they have been made aware of the prob­lem and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“We have con­firmed that alu­minium from Kobe Steel is used in the hoods and doors of some of our ve­hi­cles,” Nis­san said in an email. “As hoods are re­lated

to pedes­trian safety, we are work­ing to quickly as­sess any po­ten­tial im­pact on ve­hi­cle func­tion­al­ity.”

Toy­ota also con­firmed that the ma­te­rial has been used in hoods and rear doors of some of its ve­hi­cles.

“Putting the ut­most pri­or­ity on the safety of our cus­tomers, we are rapidly work­ing to iden­tify which ve­hi­cle mod­els might be sub­ject to this sit­u­a­tion and what com­po­nents were used, as well as what ef­fect there might be on in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cles,” Toy­ota said in a state­ment. “At the same time, we are con­sid­er­ing what mea­sures need to be put in place go­ing for­ward.”

Air­craft maker Boe­ing said it, too, is look­ing into the prob­lem.

“Boe­ing has been work­ing closely and con­tin­u­ously with our sup­pli­ers since be­ing no­ti­fied of the is­sue, to en­sure timely and ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion, in­clud­ing com­pre­hen­sive in­spec­tions and anal­y­sis through­out our sup­ply chain,” the com­pany said in an email.

“Noth­ing in our re­view to date leads us to con­clude that this is­sue presents a safety con­cern, and we will con­tinue to work dili­gently with our sup­pli­ers to com­plete our in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Kobe Steel said in a re­lease that the ma­te­ri­als in­cluded alu­minium flat-rolled prod­ucts, alu­minium ex­tru­sions, cop­per strips, cop­per tubes, and alu­minium cast­ings and forg­ings.

It was un­clear if the total of 40,900 tons of prod­ucts in­volved in­cluded ship­ments to other coun­tries.

“Data in in­spec­tion cer­tifi­cates had been im­prop­erly rewrit­ten etc, and the prod­ucts were shipped as hav­ing met the spec­i­fi­ca­tions con­cerned,” the com­pany said, de­scrib­ing the ac­tions as “im­proper con­duct.”

The prob­lem was dis­cov­ered dur­ing in­ter­nal in­spec­tions and “emer­gency qual­ity au­dits”, it said.

Kobe Steel said it was con­tact­ing its cus­tomers and work­ing to ver­ify the safety of the prod­ucts it sup­plied and has set up a com­mit­tee headed by its pres­i­dent to in­ves­ti­gate qual­ity is­sues and hired an out­side law firm to con­duct a probe into the mis­con­duct.

AP

Kobe Steel Group’s logo is seen in Tokyo Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 11, 2017.

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