Quality management system
In keeping with our product quality plan, which calls for improvement in customer satisfaction, we have designed our quality management system to comply with international quality assurance standard ISO9001 throughout the Company.
We have established an organizational framework, led by the Senior Vice President of the Quality Assurance Group the Quality Assurance Manager under the supervision of executive management, which maintains and improves quality systems, with the goal of raising customer satisfaction. We have also constructed our own internal audit framework, and through regular internal audits we maintain and improve our systems.
Securing product safety and quality
Aiming to meet the high product safety standards increasingly seen as important by modern society, we enacted the Advantest Product Safety Charter in May 1995.
To achieve the above, we enacted our Product Safety Promotion Regulations and established a companywide committee as an organization to promote advances in product safety. From May 1995 to the present, this committee has been continually active in product safety improvements.
Through these activities, Advantest has maintained a record of zero quality accidents for five years.
Initiatives aimed at improving software quality
Advantest continues to take initiatives aimed at improving software quality.
Software for testers, handlers and other such devices shipped by Advantest first goes through a process that involves quality verification by the Quality Assurance Division. The specification sheet, a parallel product of development, is examined by the Quality Assurance Division in real time and feedback is given, which helps to ensure quality at upstream stages of development. The examination is implemented by the time development is complete, and after fulfillment of quality standards is confirmed, products are shipped.
Beginning in 2012, process improvement activity using the "Toyota development process"* was implemented with the cooperation of the R&D Division. This activity improves the level of the design review process, and high-quality design enables high-quality and high-throughput product development. These initiatives bring about the timely delivery of even better products.
* Source: The Toyota Product Development System, James M. Morgan, Jeffrey K. Liker, 2006.
Advantest is committed to helping its customers achieve higher levels of productivity by offering them products that promise high availability — meaning that they are unlikely to malfunction, but will recover immediately should failure occur. More specifically, availability refers to the ratio of time that a system is operational over a given time, and as such constitutes one of the benchmarks of product integrity. The Advantest Group delivers high availability by working hard to improve MTBF*1 so that devices will operate without malfunction over longer duration of use, while also reducing MTTR*2 so that devices will be more readily serviceable when malfunction does occur.
*1 MTBF: mean time between failure
*2 MTTR: mean time to repair
Design review system aimed at improving quality
Persistently stringent customer demands for functionality, performance and quality call for Advantest products equipped with increasingly large-scale and progressively more complex circuitry. Meanwhile, we are also responding to demands for shorter development lead times, a challenge we feel is best addressed by instilling quality at the upstream design phase so that we can detect potential issues early on. Accordingly, we introduced a new design review system in fiscal 2008 as a framework for achieving these goals.
- Our design review system was amended to ensure that the project leader establishes a design review plan when product development begins, and so that reviews will be conducted regularly.
- We changed the system so that the relevant staff and the project leader, as well as the quality assurance division, carry out monitoring to prevent follow-up omissions, by enabling visual identification of issues raised.
- We also adopted the Design Review Meister System, which involves forming groups of in-house experts for each technical area to participate in the related design reviews. This system increases the rate of problem detection in design reviews, encourages the succession of technologies, and facilitates in-house education.
Many positive results have been achieved through these activities. For instance, the rate of defect detection during the design phase has recently improved, leading to a decrease in setbacks and fewer defects finding their way into later processes, thereby minimizing development delays. The new design review system has resulted in improvements in design quality and a reduction in development lead times. However, it has also revealed many cases in which problems that should have been detected by the designer ultimately found their way into the design review or later processes.
Advantest regularly collects analysis and feedback on issues that have gone undetected and accordingly makes improvements to the review framework. Moreover, going forward we will implement further improvements to the design process involving thorough checking prior to design reviews to achieve better design quality.
We are committed to the notion that individual components underpin overall product quality, and therefore the quality of each and every component has to be exceptional. Premised on that assertion, the Advantest Group engages in SQE (Supplier Quality Engineering) initiatives beginning at the component adoption phase, drawing on the support of our supplier network. SQE initiatives are undertaken with the aim of enlisting a team of experts to bring about improvements to component quality. Accordingly, it is critical that we engage in practices to ensure component quality, particularly given that the number of parts used in our products is roughly equivalent to the 200 thousand to three million parts that make up an aircraft.
Our SQE initiatives involve the following three practices.
- Careful selection of components: When given the choice of multiple components with similar performance specifications, we select the best item through a process involving in-house quality analysis and evaluation.
- Quality improvement through PDCA: We apply PDCA-cycle practices from the component design phase to manufacturing to achieve improvements prior to high-volume production and thereafter.
- Ensure that tolerances are maintained in component design: We aim for component design benchmarks determined on the basis of tolerances rather than standard specifications.