Published on December 21st, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Takata Responds Finally
There is no suggestion that the safety problems have been the result of quality controls at Takata’s suppliers. In discussions with suppliers, Takata executives did not elaborate on the reasons for the quality audits, which have gone beyond airbag parts suppliers. Takata sits at the top of a pyramid of more than 100 suppliers in Japan. Many of those businesses are family-run, local manufacturers with long-standing ties to Takata that employ a handful of workers and make nuts, bolts and buckles used in Takata’s airbags and seat belts. Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada told investors in June that the company had allowed its operations outside Japan too much leeway at a time of fast growth in demand for the company’s airbags.
As part of that, the company signaled it would try to incorporate improvements suggested by its suppliers into manufacturing and design. Takata urged the supplier to be extra careful on quality management “because of the circumstance we’re in”. Takata has 55 factories in 20 countries, eight of which are located in Japan. The only facility that makes airbags in Japan is a plant in Kyushu in southern Japan. The company’s manufacturing in Japan is concentrated in Shiga, in western Japan, where Takata has three manufacturing centers in Echigawa, Hikone and Nagahama where it produces seat belts and carries out tests.
Takata has had problems with ensuring consistent quality standards from suppliers in the past, documents reviewed by Reuters show. In 2006, engineers at the company’s Monclova, Mexico, plant found that welds on airbag inflators were failing because steel pipes shipped from a Japanese supplier had too much carbon, according to an engineering report.