Kobe Steel’s quality troubles mount as the Japanese company revealed on Friday a new case of fake data at one of its copper plants following an inspection by the Quality Assurance Organization.
A new case of fake data was found at Kobe Steel plant in Hadano, which processes steel plate. The Quality Assurance Organization according to Dow Jones took issue with copper pipes produced at a Kobe Steel plant in Hadano, a city west of Tokyo. The pipes are used in plumbing and air-conditioning systems.
The company is now under investigation for possibly breaching Japan’s industrial standards. Among the issues discovered are that the thickness of steel supplied to customers “was fabricated” a Kobe spokesman told the BBC. Employees also did not report evidence to an internal investigation.
Apologies and action
Kobe Steel is one of Japan’s biggest producers of steel and aluminum. It is also a major auto supplier. The company has taken its home page to issue an apology writing: "At this time, we sincerely and deeply apologize for the enormous amount of worry and trouble we have caused many of you in respect to the improper conduct concerning a portion of our products made by our company and group companies."
In early October, the company saw its share price plunge after it admitted that it altered quality documents on tens of thousands of tons of metal shipments to make it look like the products were above minimum quality standards.
The falsified data involved products sent to around 500 companies including Toyota Motor and Boeing. The products were said to be above minimum quality standards but quality group will investigate whether the manipulation of quality data violates industrial standards rules.
Launching an investigation
In addition to its own in-house probe Kobe says it will set up a panel of outsiders to investigate the problems in the company and has brought on an external law firm.
The company has placed an emphasis on core values and in a message from Hiroya Kawasaki, chairman and CEO of Kobelco in September this year he wrote: "One of my cherished words is “action,” which I interpret to mean that we should “go out and move others. If you go to them, they will take action.” As we pursue new projects, I hope to put this philosophy of action into motion and display the strength of these convictions."
A Kobe spokesman’s response to the BBC question of whether data fabrication problem had been ongoing for longer than a decade said: "It could be longer than a decade, we are looking into it now."