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Kobe Steel plant loses last quality badge

The plant at the centre of the scandal has lost its ISO 9001 quality certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO)

The Kobe Steel plant at the centre of a data-falsification scandal that has shaken supply chains around the world has been stripped of all its industrial quality certifications, the Japanese government said on Wednesday.

The government sanctioned seal on insulated copper tubing from Kobe’s Hatano plant was also revoked after an investigation by a certification firm into its quality mechanisms, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement.

The plant southwest of Tokyo has also lost its ISO 9001 quality certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO), Japan Quality Assurance Organization said.

Earlier, the plant was stripped of its Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) seal for seamless copper pipe products used for air conditioning and refrigerators, as a consequence of the scandal.

JIS-certified products cover about 40 per cent of Hatano’s sales by weight, Kobe Steel said. Copper products made up about 7 per cent of the company’s total sales in the year to March 2017.

“We aim to regain the JIS certification and recover trust from our customers as soon as possible by implementing measures to prevent future misconduct,” Kobe Steel said in a statement.

Industry experts said customers may switch suppliers or pick Kobe’s competitors for future orders.

Three other Kobe Steel copper and aluminium plants tangled up in the data cheating had their ISO 9001 quality certifications suspended earlier this month for up to six months.

Kobe Steel is Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, which supplies producers of cars, planes, trains and other products across the world, said last month that about 500 of its customers had received products with falsified specifications.

Furthermore, Kobe Steel has an extensive role in global supply chains. It produces engine valve springs found in half the world’s cars, according to its website.

Kobe shares have dropped nearly a quarter since news of the data interfering in early October.

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Safety checks at Kobe Steel plant

On Tuesday Japanese authorities announced they are conducting safety checks at a Kobe Steel Ltd aluminum plant.

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Steel scandal hits marques

Some of the world’s biggest car companies – including Toyota and Honda – have been rocked by an industrial scandal in Japan over falsified data relating to the strength and durability of aluminium used in the production of their vehicles.

Kobe Steel, one of Japan’s key metal producers, says its staff has falsified the strength and durability of metal products delivered to more than 200 companies. These include automotive manufacturers, aerospace companies and the space industry.

The company works with several other marques, such as Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Ford, General Motors and Mitsubishi.

Kobe Steel says data had been falsified to make the metals look as if they reached quality standards. The false information has been linked back to four aluminium factories in Japan, and, for some items, the practice goes back about a decade, says Naoto Umehara, executive vice-president.

The company is now investigating the practice, but says so far there have been no safety concerns. Toyota has confirmed its use of aluminium with falsified strength and durability ratings in doors and other outer areas.

A spokesman says: “We are working to identify which models might be subject to this situation and what components were used. We recognise this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue.”

Honda has also stated it has used materials with false ratings in its doors and hoods, while Mazda and Mitsubishi are investigating if their vehicles are affected.

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