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In 2017 and 2018, respectively, General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) both released new customer-specific requirements that suppliers must meet for IATF 16949:2016 certification. Among other topics, the automakers outline layered process audit (LPA) requirements, each putting their own spin on these high-frequency checks aimed at process standardization.

If you’re a supplier for both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it’s important to understand what the two sets of requirements have in common—and where they’re different.

Understanding the details is the only way to create an LPA program that’s streamlined and ensures customer satisfaction. Here we compare the two sets of requirements and summarize best practices for an LPA program that satisfies both of them.

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When you look at standards like IATF 16949 or ISO 9001, the requirements boil down to two essential elements: improving customer satisfaction and reducing risk.

They go hand in hand, because effective risk management means safer products and happier customers—and fewer problems for their suppliers.

To help automotive suppliers proactively avoid quality and safety issues, we’re looking at 4 important places to focus for improving risk management and reducing costs.

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When a customer asks to see your layered process audit (LPA) documentation, will you be ready?

For many manufacturers, the answer is no. Instead of having proof of an effective LPA process, they’re left scrambling for data that show low audit compliance and few actual results. Unfortunately, poor LPA processes are enough to fail a customer audit, which could put your key contracts at risk. 

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One of the highlights from last year’s Beacon User Summit was our first annual Champions for Quality Awards. Before jumping into what we learned from our champions, we’d like to introduce the 2018 award winners:

Catalyst Award: Tom Sholty, Girtz Industries

Sholty is a quality manager who led Girtz’s ISO 9001:2015 certification, also helping lead the company to the Quality Magazine 2018 Quality Leadership 100. His efforts helped reduce Girtz’s warranty rate to 0.26% of sales dollars and nonconformance rate to 0.89% of sales dollars, both record lows for the company.

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If your organization conducts layered process audits (LPAs), which of these statements accurately describes your results?

A. We’ve significantly reduced defects and complaints, using these high-frequency process audits to improve standardization.

B. We’ve been doing LPAs for awhile, but we’re not seeing much change in quality.

Those of you that answered B may question if LPAs are just a pointless customer requirement, or whether there are deeper problems within your approach. Here we examine 7 signs of a struggling LPA program, with tips and strategies for improving your results.

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Mobile apps are now an essential part of workplaces today, with 9 in 10 users indicating that work-related apps have changed their business behavior. And yet, over half of professionals say their organization is slow to deliver these efficiency-boosting apps to employees.

Despite the explosive growth of software as a service (SaaS) and mobile solutions, in many industries there are still big concerns around security and reliability. At the same time, manufacturers wanting to improve compliance and reduce defects are realizing that tools like mobile audit software can unlock huge gains in productivity and effectiveness.

So how do you approach the conversation if you’re preparing to meet with your vendor management or IT steering committee about implementing mobile audit software? You’ll want to focus on key elements such as platform security, efficiency and overall reliability.

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In 1982, W. Edward Deming’s Out of the Crisis outlined 14 points companies could learn from his success helping drive the industrial boom of post-WWII Japan.

The idea that quality pays was revolutionary at the time. Today, another revolution is taking place. Industry 4.0 represents a tectonic shift in manufacturing technology focused on automation, data exchange and interconnected cyber-physical systems.

But these massive changes don’t make Deming’s points any less relevant today. In fact, Industry 4.0 reinforces many of Deming’s 14 points—and can help the next generation of quality leaders relate to these foundational concepts.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers survey data shows that companies expect Industry 4.0 digitization initiatives to add $493 billion to revenues to their bottom lines over the next few years.

Quality management is a prime target for digital transformation, and while adoption of quality software is growing, it’s important to address IT concerns before jumping in.

If you’re considering implementing quality software in your organization, you’ll want to think about security, ease of use and integration with business intelligence tools. Today we’re looking at each of these, also highlighting some qualities to look for in a robust quality solution.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that by 2020, Industry 4.0 digital transformation initiatives will deliver nearly 4% in annual cost reductions for both the aerospace and automotive industries.

One area manufacturers are automating is internal audits, including the layered process audits (LPAs) required by several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These daily checks of high-risk processes are a best practice for reducing defects, but they’re also time-consuming when tracking a large volume of audits manually.

Given the understandable scrutiny on costs, the question for auto and aerospace manufacturers becomes whether paper-based or spreadsheet-based LPAs actually cost less than automation. Here we discuss various costs to consider, including administration, implementation and quality costs—as well as hidden costs that should figure into your decision.

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Experts say that the cost of quality totals roughly 10% in the average organization, with some companies facing quality costs of up to 40%.

If your plant is on the middle to upper end of these estimates, it’s likely company leadership considers your plant in need of immediate intervention.

But what quality management solutions do you have if you’re trying to turn around a struggling plant, especially if problems are complex and habits deeply ingrained? If you’re not sure where to start, you might consider whether one of these three proven strategies could help you achieve the substantial change you need.

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