Quality That Ensures Safety and Reliability
Alpine place a priority on the improvement of our quality management system to earn customers trust and ensure satisfaction.
Alpine provides outstanding products and services that guarantee customer satisfaction.
- Quality First
Quality is determined by customer satisfaction. We fully recognize that conformance to quality is the foundation for price, delivery date, and services, and practice a quality-first policy in all our business activities.
- Planned Initiatives
Alpine management institutes planned initiatives throughout the manufacturing process to provide products and services that ensure 100% customer satisfaction.
- Quality Improvement
We are fully aware of individual employee responsibility in ensuring the quality required by customers, and set quality targets to promote continual improvement.
Lesson of Quality Learned From Experience
In the Alpine Museum located inside our headquarters office, there is an exhibit of a product that was shot with a .45 magnum in 1981. This was back when Alpine had only just entered the American market, and when quality was still inconsistent — the customer who purchased the car stereo was dissatisfied by it, because the cassette inside would not eject properly, so it was returned. Today, it is a symbol for all Alpine employees of our obligation to offer premium quality products and services. It is a reminder that each and every Alpine product we deliver to the market is special from the end user's perspective, and the foundation of Alpine's evaluation in the market.
The Pursuit of Reliable Products
Automobiles operate in a wide range of environments. To ensure the reliability of our products, Alpine conducts testing and evaluation in even harsher environments than real life. In our reliability and evaluation centers, the robustness of our products is tested under various strict evaluation criteria, testing glare caused by sunlight, and durability against sand and dust, as well as temperature, humidity, vibration, shock, radio wave, and sound characteristic tests. Our test course reproduces severe road conditions, allowing us to confirm that even on rough roads, our products still work properly.
Liability evaluation center
Improvement of Quality Inspection Capabilities
As products' technology improves and complexity increases, hard-to-detect defects can become more common as well. We have introduced nondestructive testing, combining high-sensitivity infrared cameras and the lock-in technique*1 at our Evaluation Center, and have put together a top-level inspection system that allows us to quickly and accurately analyze defects invisible to the naked eye, enabling us to improve quality through industry-leading inspection systems.
*1 Lock-in technique: A technique that allows the depth of heat-generating spots and heat sources to be specified in high resolution by adding pulsed micro voltage to the target.
Sharing of Information on Past Problems among Employees
We have established an “Exhibition Room for Important Quality Issues.” We use this room for training to ensure that information on past quality problems will not fade from memory, the most effective way to prevent recurrence. Displays include the actual defective items, descriptions of the incidents that led to quality problems and feedback from the customers that were affected by them.
Important Quality Characteristic Exhibit Room
Since 2014, in addition to the permanent exhibit at our Iwaki headquarters office, we have been doing on-site exhibits at remote production facilities to share quality problem case studies with more employees involved in the front lines of manufacturing. In 2016, we held an exhibition on major quality problems at our production facility in Iwaki City, Fukushima to raise awareness of quality by reminding our employees of past issues.
Exhibition on Major Quality Problems
Quality Management System (Global QMS)
Global standards for the quality management system (QMS) ensure that all departments and divisions at Alpine satisfy customers with a policy of quality assurance, which is essential to the pursuit of business activities.
Alpine has obtained ISO/TS16949 automobile industry quality management standard certification for all production plants both in Japan and overseas. Ever seeking to increase quality, we consider the realization of global consistency in our products and services to be a priority issue in earning customer trust and ensuring satisfaction. Since 2013, we have worked on the global unification of our quality system, and have initiated our global QMS in a number of business units.
We continue improving the system to establish a globally standardized system that prevents defects and a QMS that can be applied to new fields such as meter display.
Proper Manufacturing from the first step (Frontloading Activities)
Defects in products and services cause significant inconvenience to customers. Alpine conducts frontloading activities, which are quality assurance activities for the design, development, and manufacture of products, with the goal of following a policy of proper manufacturing in every process from the product planning stage. Specifically, we established a system of frontloading activities in the Quality Assurance Division to review product development processes from the perspective of quality, identify problems and institute measures. For products supplied to German automobile manufactures, we have implemented maturity level assurance (MLA) in accordance with the regulations specified by the Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V. (VDA: German Association of the Automotive Industry). We have developed a new memory function that records the history of operation in each product to ensure accurate analysis and early solution of problems.
Active Use of Quality Engineering (QE)
In order to meet the needs of our customers around the world, Alpine focuses on improving the robustness*of products to ensure that they perform as expected under conditions that exceed the limits of actual experience over a wide range of natural environments and road conditions.
Considering the importance of preventing quality issues, Alpine has adopted quality engineering (QE) concepts and methods for the comprehensive assessment of product function stability.
In the design and development stage, for example, we evaluate the stability of functions and optimize design parameters of both hardware and software while envisaging the manner and environment in which the product will be used.
In manufacturing, we apply QE concepts and methods to assess final product quality and optimize the processes to reduce variability in functional characteristics. We are also working to deepen our engineers' understanding of QE concepts and methods through in-house training programs, QE case study sessions, and QE reporting sessions. We continue working on the utilization of QE concepts and methods throughout our group to provide high-quality products that satisfy our customers.
*Robustness: The degree to which a supplied product can perform its intended function in any environment the customer might use it (hot/cold, humid/dry, dusty etc.)
Quality Evaluation Systems and Improved Product Quality through Close Attention to Customers
In order to provide customers with safe, high-quality products, Alpine is working globally to establish a quality guarantee system, as well as to improve overall product quality.
Through the acquisition of quality management system certifications such as ISO 9001 and ISO/TS 16949 at our plants worldwide, as well as through the establishments of quality centers in the US, Europe, China, and Japan, we are building a system that allows us to respond to our customers faster by being closer. Additionally, through the use of IT for DM (digital manufacturing) techniques in product development, as well as quality engineering in manufacturing processes, automation of production lines, and other changes, we are working to increase reliability and ensure high quality.
Beijing Evaluation Center
Designing with DM
Appealing Quality for Emotional Value
At Alpine, we define “Appealing Quality” as delivering quality above and beyond what customers expect, and our efforts are focused on achieving that goal. We have taken to heart a two-axis approach to customer satisfaction, based on both functionality and ease of use, with the aim of creating a sense of delight in our customers.
Pursuing higher quality through global partnership
ALPINE ELECTRONICS OF AMERICA, INC.
We wear badges that say, “Deliver outstanding products and services that meet customer needs via high quality systems,” and we go about our duties with a constant awareness of improving quality. One of my roles is to develop tools to utilize the quality information obtained from performing product analyses and providing analytical support to dealers and on the production floor. The tools that I am working to develop include a global quality service system and automated analysis & evaluation tools that would allow us to share accumulated quality data on a global basis and provide feedback to Engineering, Development and Production on the state and trends of quality from the customer’s perspective. As part of these activities, we partner with each facility as “Global One Team” to promote more effective and efficient quality improvement activities. Alpine will continue to change and take up challenges with an awareness of the times and changes in the environment to meet the needs and expectations of our customers.
Efforts toward Functional Safety for In-Vehicle Products
The need for safety in in-vehicle products increases as driver-assistance systems become more advanced and automatic driving systems are adopted, and Alpine has been one of the first to establish a productization process and system that comply with the ISO 26262 functional safety* standard for automobiles. In fiscal year 2016, with the goal of bringing about a business culture of judgment and action that places the highest priority on safety, we established the Functional Safety Policy and produced work manuals, as well as putting into practice an e-learning system for all employees involved in work related to in-vehicle products.
Alpine Functional Safety Policy
“Alpine offers safe in-vehicle products that customers can use with peace of mind, through functional safety.”
* Functional safety: A concept of providing safety functions in order to reduce the hazard of harm to drivers, passengers, and others to a permissible level in the event of system failure.