Products and services provided by the Asahi Kasei Group internally and externally include materials, products, installations, various services, and after-sales support. We believe that providing safe and reliable products and services that satisfy our customers is our ultimate mission.
In 2016, we established the Asahi Kasei Group Quality Policy and Group Quality Assurance Bylaws. Based on these, we promote quality assurance to provide products and services that satisfy our customers and society.
As we enter an era of coexistence with the coronavirus and the post-coronavirus era, we have changed the Asahi Kasei Group Quality Policy on August 1, 2020, to reflect our strong awareness of the need to regard discontinuous and irreversible structural changes as opportunities for reform and to act on our own initiative.
Asahi Kasei Group Quality Policy
The Asahi Kasei Group flexibly anticipates the constantly changing needs of customers and society to create and provide products and services with quality that ensures safety and security.
In April 2019, we appointed a dedicated Executive Officer for Quality Assurance to further reinforce the management framework.
The Corporate Quality Ensurance department of Asahi Kasei Corporation oversees and coordinates Group-wide quality assurance activities.
Corporate Quality Ensurance consists of four groups: the Quality Ensurance Group, which covers all aspects of quality assurance; the Product Safety Group, which functions to ensure quality assurance as a comprehensive chemical manufacturer; the Regulatory Affairs & Reliability Assurance Group, which functions to ensure quality assurance of products and services in the Health Care sector; and the Corporate Quality Ensurance Planning Group, which proposes new plans and coordinates with other organizations. Corporate Quality Ensurance performs a head-office function as a hub for the Group's quality assurance framework and strives every day to reinforce quality assurance activities throughout the Asahi Kasei Group to deliver safe and reliable products and services to our customers and society.
Corporate Quality Ensurance prepares a Monthly Quality Assurance Report, based on which the Executive for RC and the Executive for Quality Assurance holds monthly quality assurance meetings to discuss information related to quality assurance.
Each core operating company and strategic business unit within the Group performs quality assurance in accordance with the products and services provided in each business area in conformity with uniform Group guidelines and bylaws.
The Group Quality Assurance Bylaws stipulate quality assurance activities for RC Administrators, such as the Presidents of the core operating companies and strategic business units, to lead. The bylaws also define the designation and roles of Quality Assurance Managers who play a central role in activities to enhance quality assurance. The Quality Assurance Managers' Conference is held four times a year to transmit and share information among the entire Asahi Kasei Group. In addition, from fiscal 2019, we have started to provide an opportunity for the Executive Officer for Quality Assurance and the Senior General Manager of Corporate Quality Ensurance to meet directly with RC Administrators, Quality Assurance Managers, and others to discuss the enhancement of quality assurance and to exchange frank opinions through face-to-face meetings, thereby creating an environment that enables us to build a reliable quality assurance system.
Product safety initiatives
The Asahi Kasei Group has also formulated the Group Guidelines for Product Safety Measures in order to make the approach to product safety in the Group Quality Assurance Bylaws even more specific.
Product safety measures are implemented at each stage of product development and product supply, to ensure product safety and to prevent product problems and complaints from emerging. In addition, we have also established appropriate measures to be taken if a serious product problem or serious accident is likely to occur or if it does occur.
Safety assurance procedures
The procedures for realizing safe products and services are specified by the Guidelines for Ensuring Safety of Equipment and the Guidelines for Ensuring Safety of Chemicals.
Chemical substance management
The Asahi Kasei Group identifies the properties of chemical substances and appropriately manages each process from product development, raw material procurement, and production (including intermediates) through to use and disposal in order to ensure the safety of products and production processes. We implement the chemical substance management shown in the diagram below at each stage from the perspectives of the global environment, operational safety, workplace safety, hygiene, and health, and quality assurance (product safety).
Corporate Quality Ensurance (Product Safety Group) serves as the secretariat for the implementation of chemical substance management in each business unit let by the Group’s Quality Assurance Managers.
Research and development
The management of chemical substances begins in the R&D stage when the applications for chemical substances are determined, and is guided throughout every stage by a commitment to developing products and process characterized by safe, environmentally sound production, handling, and use.
When purchasing materials, information related to the safety of chemical substances is received from the supplier. This information serves as a guide to safe storage and handling.
At the production stage, we manage chemical substances, including intermediates, in an appropriate manner to suppress emissions into the environment. We also strive to prevent fires, explosions, and leaks at facilities where chemical substances are handled to ensure the safety of local communities and preserve the global environment. The health of employees is protected by performing sound risk assessment for chemical substances and preventing workplace exposure to hazardous substances.
Sale, use, and disposal
Guidance for proper use and disposal of chemical substances and chemical products is provided in Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), technical bulletins, and product brochures.
Transport Emergency Cards are issued to guide the proper environmental and safety response in the event of an accident during physical distribution.
Quality assurance and human resources development
Development of core human resources for quality assurance
We have held the Quality Assurance Forum since fiscal 2017 to continue heightening awareness of quality assurance among younger and mid-level employees across the Group. In fiscal 2020, 47 employees selected from throughout the Asahi Kasei Group gathered at the head office once per month for a period of six months for a group discussion on a certain subject each time, combined with lectures on each subject by outside experts (mainly university professors at the forefront of the Japanese Society for Quality Control). At the final session, participants in each business sector discuss issues in their own organizations based on what they learned, and prepare proposals to present to management. In fiscal 2021, we are continuing this as a key project for in-house quality assurance training.
Fostering a quality assurance mindset among department and group managers
In fiscal 2019, we held a Quality Management Seminar for Department and Group Managers, inviting lecturers who lead quality assurance at other companies to further deepen the understanding of the importance of quality assurance for department and group managers. We plan to continue to provide quality assurance training for department heads in 2021 and beyond.
Fostering a quality assurance mindset among all employees
Coinciding with Quality Month in November 2020, the President, the Executive Officer for RC and the Executive Officer for Quality Assurance issued messages for all Group employees about the importance of quality assurance. Training via e-learning was conducted as well, further raising awareness on the subject for employees. This is slated to continue in 2021 and beyond as well.
Chemical substance management training
We provide regular training to research, production, and sales staff in each area of the Asahi Kasei Group. Such training includes sharing the most up-to-date information on the latest domestic chemical substance-related laws and regulations (Act on the Evaluation of Chemical Substances and Regulation of Their Manufacture, etc., Industrial Safety and Health Act, Poisonous and Deleterious Substances Control Act, etc.) in Japan and overseas for the management of chemical substances and consideration of responses, and presentations of the latest themes in chemical substance management.
Appropriate labeling and information provision
Providing appropriate information to our customers
The Asahi Kasei Group, which provides customers with products and services that are end products for domestic and household-use products, provides information that includes product performance, precautions, and suggested usage to ensure safe use of our products and services.
We endeavor to provide descriptions of products and services to customers, including product labeling and advertisements, that are easy to understand and not misleading. In addition, we confirm the content of descriptions and advertisements of products and services at each stage from product development and introduction to sale, and continuously check that there is no infringement of related laws, regulations, or voluntary industry standards, and confirm that customers are able to properly use products and services safely and reliably.
Compliance with the revised Food Sanitation Act
In June 2020, the revised Food Sanitation Law came into effect, and a new positive list (below “PL”) system was introduced.
The Group participates in a number of committees of the JCII (Japan Chemical Innovation and Inspection Institute) Food Contact Material Safety Center, and it is continuing its activities to ensure that nothing is overlooked in the PL system and to provide customers with appropriate information related to the PL system.
Responding to Globally Harmonized System (GHS)
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a system for classifying and labelling chemicals in accordance with globally unified rules in order to help with accident prevention and health and environmental protection. The Asahi Kasei Group is advancing a program to classify the hazards of all of our chemical products in accordance with GHS categories, and revise our SDSs and label our products with safety information accordingly.
EU REACH compliance
We conduct internal education and training on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, Restriction and Chemicals)*1 requirements and periodically hold meetings among related parties. To fulfill our obligations related to SVHC*2 which include transmission of information, we gather information on chemical substances that are newly added as candidates for authorized regulation, and provide it to the users who request it. At the same time, we continue to move forward with preparations for CLP (Classification, Labeling, and Packaging)*3 regulations.
- *1 Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a regulation in Europe on chemical substances. It obliges registration of the usage and safety of chemical substances imported to or produced in Europe. Substances judged to pose high risks are subject to authorization and restriction.
- *2 Substances of Very High Concern. Substances added to a list of candidates for authorized regulation.
- *3 CLP is a regulation in Europe on classification, labeling, and packaging of substances and mixtures in accordance with GHS.
Participation in Joint Article Management Promotion-consortium (JAMP) and promotion of chemSHERPA
As a major upstream company, we participate in the activities of the steering committee and individual committees of JAMP relating to the transmission of information on chemical substances contained in products throughout the supply chain and work actively on building tools and systems as well as revision of the list of applicable substances. Starting in fiscal 2018, we have been engaged in activities to encourage greater adoption of chemSHERPA (a scheme for transmission of information on chemical substances contained in products) while making active efforts to provide and obtain information throughout the supply chain. Together with the JAMP executive office, we will continue to work to raise awareness as a representative of upstream companies.
Mechanisms to utilize customer feedback
We believe satisfying customers and providing products and services that are a delight to use translates into contribution to society. In order to achieve this, we believe that it is most important to identify true needs by listening carefully to customer feedback to establish two-way communication. The Asahi Kasei Group has built frameworks for such communication with customers in each of our businesses and strives to listen to frank and honest feedback.