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Product Quality and Quality Management

In the Sony Pledge of Quality, Sony sets forth a commitment to "respect our customers' viewpoints in striving to deliver product quality and customer service that exceed their expectations." To this end, Sony promotes continuous, decisive efforts to enhance product quality and to reinforce its quality management system.

Sony's Quality Management System Framework

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

Sony recently reconfigured its quality management system by reviewing quality management mechanisms across all processes, from development, planning, design and manufacturing through to sales and service. This has included redefining the roles, responsibilities and authority of those responsible for product and service quality and establishing guidelines. Based on this new quality management system, Sony has developed a framework and is implementing measures on an ongoing basis to improve the quality of its products and services. This framework and examples of such measures are shown below.
  • Framework of Sony's Quality Management System


  • Has appointed the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and has tasked them with coordinating efforts to improve product and customer service quality and ensure timely responses to problems;
  • Has appointed Quality Officers within each business unit and has tasked them with spearheading product- and business-specific initiatives under the supervision of the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and the senior executive of the relevant business unit;
  • Has appointed a Software Quality Officer in each business division to promote the maintenance and improvement of overall software quality under the direction and supervision of the Quality Officer. This includes ensuring connectivity between the products supported;
  • Has appointed CS Officers to coordinate customer service departments in markets around the world where Sony products are sold and has tasked them with spearheading a network of global-level initiatives under the supervision of the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and the individual in charge of the relevant regional headquarters;
  • Has created a framework for promoting business unit- and region-specific initiatives to ensure Sony's products comply with pertinent laws and regulations;
  • Has obtained certification under ISO 9001 for all sites manufacturing electronics products;
  • Has formulated mid-term and fiscal year quality and CS targets, as well as key quality-related indicators for business plans, with the aim of fulfilling the Sony Pledge of Quality. Business units and regional headquarters subsequently devised their own fiscal year quality and CS targets and CS-oriented business plans, in line with which they continue to promote quality improvement initiatives;
  • Has held regular Quality Strategy Meetings, attended by top management, which function as the ultimate decision-making authority for quality in the Electronics business, to deliberate and decide on policy, strategies and targets related to product quality, as well as key measures to further improve quality;
  • Has held regular Quality Officer Meetings, attended by business unit Quality Officers, to evaluate the progress of quality-oriented business plans, promote initiatives aimed at achieving targets, and debate specific activities and responses to quality-related issues and shared challenges. As well, Sony has held Quality CS Officer Meetings, attended by business unit Quality Officers and regional CS Officers, to share information on initiatives for increasing product and customer service quality in each region and to share challenges and efforts, thereby contributing to global efforts to improve product quality;
  • Has formulated Sony Group quality standards applicable to Sony's electronics products and related customer services, focusing on such criteria as product safety and performance, labeling and customer services. These standards are updated continuously to reflect technological advances, changes in applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and social changes;
  • Has strengthened rules worldwide from September 2006 to ensure prompt reporting to the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety, when Sony receives information about an incident involving a Sony product that affects customer safety or has the potential to do so. Based on these reports, the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety provides the necessary follow-up and instructs the relevant divisions to investigate the incidents and respond appropriately to the customer. In December 2007, Sony applied the same system to possible software vulnerabilities in products, and ensures full implementation of the system.

Responding to the Customer

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

Sony makes active use of customer feedback to improve its products and customer services. Opinions, reports of malfunctions after purchase, questions regarding use and other feedback received through Customer Information Centers are evaluated promptly and accurately and disseminated to the planning and design groups so that improvements in product quality can be made in a timely fashion, thus contributing to efforts to enhance product power.
For example, in its lineup of Blu-ray Disc™ recorders and players Sony implemented a comprehensive upgrade of the user interface, resulting in easy-to-understand, comfortable operation of a diverse range of functions. In particular, by introducing easy initial settings and switching to a visual-based, easy-to-follow on-screen guide, customers are able to enjoy their newly purchased products even sooner.
Furthermore, to enable customers to maximize their products' full range of functions, in addition to the conventional printed user manual, Sony implemented a complete overhaul of its Web-based support content. In particular, the connectivity with smartphones and other devices, by adding description of images, illustration-based explanations, the instructions are improved more intuitive and easy to follow than before.
  • Utilizing Customer Feedback


Quality Hotline

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

It is vital to detect product quality-related problems as early as possible. To that end, Sony therefore established the Quality Hotline in 2003, to gather product quality-related information, including reports of problems, as well as opinions from Sony Group employees. Employees can send messages regarding such matters as issues that are too difficult to handle at their workplace and problems concerning the quality of Sony products and/or customer services from the customer's perspective, to the Quality Hotline's in-house website. Upon investigating a problem to ascertain the veracity of the information received, the Quality Hotline proposes and introduces measures to prevent previous problems from recurring and precluding potential new problems.
For example, in digital high-definition video cameras, based on information gathered from employees, Sony implemented an overhaul of product specifications related to image processing, leading to an improvement providing higher image quality. As of March 2013, Sony had received more than 1,610 reports since the establishment of the Quality Hotline. The diverse range of information received has included proposals to develop products and manuals more user-friendly, and has led to more than 1,040 improvements.
As these initiatives indicate, Sony is wholeheartedly committed to improving product and service quality from the customer's perspective with the aim of maintaining and enhancing customers' satisfaction, reliability and trust.


Market Quality Improvements

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

Sony has established dedicated quality management organizations in each of its business areas that are responsible for improving quality for pertinent products in market places.

At Sony's head office, information related to quality issues arising in the marketplace is gathered in a timely manner from a broad range of sources in Japan and overseas and reported weekly to head office quality management and technical specialists under an information-sharing system. Based on reported information, Sony ascertains whether or not issues in the marketplace have been addressed appropriately. As well as ensuring that such issues are thoroughly addressed, by promoting measures to prevent recurrence and proactive measures in relation to quality issues, Sony is accelerating its quality improvement performance.

Initiatives Aimed at Improving the Quality, Safety and Long-Term Reliability of Products

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

Initiatives Aimed at Improving the Quality of Products
Sony pursues design-, manufacturing- and parts-related initiatives aimed at improving product quality.

Design-related quality initiatives
In the initial stages of the design process, the individual in charge of a particular business group verifies new technologies and new parts and, from a user's perspective, determines how a product is to be used. At the conclusion of the design process, the individual in charge confirms the degree to which the intended level of product quality, reliability and usability has been realized.

In addition, to ensure our ability to provide customers with products of a quality worthy of the Sony brand, we required OEM/ODM companies and parts suppliers to comply with Groupwide quality standards. Compliance with these standards is also tested at the end of the design process.

Such approaches prevent the occurrence of problems pertaining to new technologies and product parts, as well as ensure product designs that incorporate consideration for user convenience.

Manufacturing-related quality initiatives
In its efforts not to receive, manufacture or ship anything with quality-related problems, Sony adheres to a policy of workmanship at all of its manufacturing sites that ensures customers can use Sony products with confidence. Initiatives include establishing important independent quality-related targets at each site and pursuing continuous improvements in product quality and the achievement of such targets through implementation of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Sony has also established standard product quality rules to ensure Sony products manufactured by OEM/ODM companies are of the same high quality as those manufactured at Sony production sites.

Parts-related quality initiatives
Recognizing the importance of parts, and resolved to manufacture products built for long-term use, Sony carefully selects key parts independently for each of its major product categories and is pursuing focused efforts aimed at increasing the reliability of the parts it uses through cooperation with relevant departments and Sony's headquarters.

Initiatives Aimed at Improving Product Safety
In line with its efforts to improve the safety of its products, Sony has assigned managers in charge of product safety assessment from a medical perspective, and has prepared related internal standards, which they updates and modifies as necessary to reflect the ever-evolving understanding of human health. Sony is also promoting efforts to strengthen internal processes for ensuring that Sony's products are in line with applicable laws, regulations and standards.

When developing products employing new technologies, Sony also seeks advice on product safety from a medical perspective from experts outside the Company, which it then incorporates into product development, design and engineering. When deemed necessary, Sony also conducts evaluation tests to verify safety with the assistance of a specialized organization.

Sony recognizes the safe and comfortable viewing of 3D televisions, which it commercialized in 2010, is a significant issue. Since 1997, representatives from Sony have sat on committees set up by various industry organizations and have attended meetings on international standardization to handle image safety, in order to obtain advanced knowledge of potential health risks or concerns including motion sickness. With the aim of leveraging such knowledge, Sony is also participating in various conferences on 3D images.

Initiatives Aimed at Improving the Long-Term Reliability of Products
The Quality Reliability Lab continues to enhance Sony's product reliability, thereby ensuring Sony's ability to deliver safe, durable and reliable products to customers.

Sony has assigned specialists to work full time on improving technologies essential to product reliability and continues working to ensure the long-term reliability of its products by developing elemental technologies for preventing the deterioration, wear and corrosion of materials and parts, as well as technologies necessary to ensure the reliability of new technologies and products and to evaluate such technologies and products.

The reliability and evaluation techniques, and the information obtained through these activities, are openly accessible and available to all Sony employees via training sessions, seminars, and websites, and are utilized to improve design and parts selection processes.

Sony also presents some of its own knowledge on new evaluation techniques at academic meetings and industry conferences and gatherings, in its efforts to contribute to industry.
For example, a drop test method, using strain gauges applicable to surface-mounted semiconductor devices, has been adopted by Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) as its standard, illustrating how Sony extends its contributions to industry and acts above and beyond the responsibilities of a manufacturer.

Efforts to Eliminate Software Vulnerability

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

The digitization and networking of consumer electronics products and an increase in the relative importance of software in recent years have heightened the danger of, among others, the leakage of personal information and the destruction of data. As a consequence, software vulnerability has become an important issue.

In addition to establishing a special function for collecting security risk-related information from outside experts, Sony has created an internal software vulnerability team comprising individuals assigned to each business group who are responsible for software vulnerability issues. Based on information received, the team—led by such individuals—assesses the impact of risk on customers from a security perspective and implements appropriate measures.

To ensure its ability to deliver products that customers can use with confidence, Sony has also established internal guidelines pertaining to software vulnerability and continues to implement employee training programs. Additionally, in 2009 Sony reinforced its product security framework by introducing a mechanism that detects software vulnerabilities during the security inspections prior to product shipment and ensures that the inspections are duly conducted.

Responses to Quality Issues

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

Sony recognizes that ensuring its customers' satisfaction, reliability and trust is one of its most important management tasks and strives to prevent quality-related problems through the systems and efforts described above.

Sony also responds swiftly when a problem arises, by investigating the facts and taking the appropriate actions. Sony approaches such efforts with a global perspective, working closely with concerned parties in local markets.

Sony also seeks to respond swiftly to the concerns of customers in the event of a quality-related issue, following a process common to all Sony products for determining the basic policy and timing of a public announcement. This process starts with the gathering of information from Customer Service Centers worldwide and collaborating with concerned local parties to ensure an accurate grasp of the issue. Based on information collected, Sony identities the causes of a quality-related issue and implements the appropriate measures, taking prompt steps to verify the effectiveness thereof, as well as to view the issue from the customer's perspective, and deciding on countermeasures in cooperation with the individuals in charge of product quality at local sites to provide the same level of customer service to customers worldwide.

With regard to methods and media for issuing public announcements of product quality-related issues, Sony examines the effectiveness of the various means at its disposal, including the Internet, e-mail or other electronic media, as well as direct mail, newspaper advertisements or other conventional media.

External Recognition

(Updated on August 12, 2013)

As an organization that manufactures and sells a wide range of products in markets around the world, Sony strives to ensure its ability to provide safe products by promptly resolving safety-related issues by, among others, leveraging its internal product supply systems and reporting to top management, and is working actively to raise awareness internally, as well as to rebuild its culture of product safety. In fiscal year 2009, these efforts were recognized when Sony was chosen to receive the Director-General for Commerce and Distribution Policy Award in the third METI Minister Awards for Best Contributors to Product Safety, sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

At the fifth METI Minister Awards for Best Contributors to Product Safety, for fiscal year 2011, Sony was once again honored with the Director-General for Commerce and Distribution Policy Award, this time in recognition of efforts by the VAIO & Mobile Business Group*, part of the Consumer Products & Services Group.

  1. Having objectively evaluated the effectiveness of R-Map risk management, the VAIO & Mobile Business Group developed a proprietary testing method tailored to the types of situations in which Sony products are used to ensure that product safety is built into product designs.
  2. Using results generated by the self-diagnostic functions incorporated into products to identify key safety-related considerations, the VAIO & Mobile Business Group created a monitoring system that detects abnormalities after products have been sold, thereby helping prevent accidents before they happen.
  3. All employees of the VAIO & Mobile Business Group were given training aimed at enhancing their awareness of product safety by enabling them to hear directly from customers regarding product uses and customer perspectives.
*
Group names are as of award date.




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