Japan's UACJ wins orders from Kobe Steel customers

3 November 2017

Japan’s biggest aluminum fabricator UACJ Corp has won orders from customers of its rival Kobe Steel Ltd which is embroiled in a data fabrication scandal, UACJ’s president said on Thursday.

Kobe Steel’s admission last month that it had found tampering in specifications mainly in aluminum and copper products, has sent companies in global supply chains scrambling to check whether the safety or performance of their products has been compromised.

UACJ President Mitsuru Okada said his company has received orders to replace Kobe Steel’s products which are sold to manufacturers of cars, planes, trains and other products across the world.

“We will listen to their request one by one and will respond if we can,” Okada said. He declined to say who the customers were, but said the requests are coming “bit by bit from various segments.”

UACJ hadn’t seen a large number of orders from customers switching, Okada said. “Even if that happens, there is capacity issues,” he added, saying some of the mills are running at high utilization rates already.

UACJ has found no data fabrication issues from its own recent internal inspection, Okada also said.

The company brought forward its inspection to October from November because of the Kobe Steel scandal and conducts regular quality checks, with a quality committee reporting to the board.

“We’ll continue regular checks and the committee’s role while we will also seek better ways through consulting with our customers whenever we have new products and so on,” Okada said.

Kobe Steel’s Executive Vice President Naoto Umehara said earlier this week that the misconduct would likely reduce its recurring profit in the October-March period by 10 billion yen ($88 million).

“We understand our customers are taking a harsh view of the data fabrication,” Umehara said. “An immediate impact may be limited, but we may see more impact as time goes by.”