It was probably only a matter of time before a data falsification scandal hit the plastics industry. After automakers Nissan and Subaru admitted failing to comply with final inspection procedures for decades, Kobe Steel fessing up to fabricating specifications for some of its aluminum, copper and other products, and Toray Hybrid Cord confessing to falsifying data for tire and vehicle hose reinforcement cords, resin supplier Ube Industries has now professed to improprieties in quality checks for certain low-density polyethylene (LDPE) wire & cable grades that were manufactured at its Chiba plant for sales by joint venture Ube-Maruzen Polyethylene Co., Ltd. The joint venture is equally owned by Ube Industries and Maruzen Petrochemical.
|An unrelated plant at Ube Industries’ Chiba Petrochemical Factory, where the LDPE plant is located.|
Ube Industries found that some analytical tests stipulated by customers were not implemented for certain products that were sold by Ube-Maruzen Polyethylene. The check items stipulated in the delivery specification sheets for customers were falsely entered into inspection reports without the actual testing or analysis being conducted.
Ube Industries said several of its employees were involved in data-rigging. The situation was initially uncovered last December but it took more than two months to announce the matter as Ube Industries reportedly prioritized confirming safety of the products and explaining the situation to the 50 affected customers. The company said it has confirmed there were no safety issues with the products. The quantity affected equates to about 7% of the volume of polyethylene sold by Ube-Maruzen Polyethylene.
Ube Industries had kicked off a program in November 2017 to check all products manufactured by group companies. On December 11, 2017, it was confirmed that improprieties had occurred for certain check items at Ube Industries’ Chiba Petrochemical Factory, specifically for LDPE manufactured on behalf of Ube- Maruzen Polyethylene.
On December 27, 2017, Ube Industries convened an emergency task force headed by President and Representative Director Yuzuru Yamamoto, in order to verify that the safety of products was not affected by the incident, and to keep customers informed of the situation, identify the causes, and investigate preventative measures.
Additionally, on February 21, 2018, Ube Industries assembled an investigation committee comprising attorneys without conflicts of interest and external directors. The investigation committee is entrusted by the Board of Directors with objectively and neutrally investigating the causes of the incident and confirming the validity of preventative measures formulated by the emergency office, as well as verifying the validity of Ube Industries’ overall response to the incident.