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Beacon Quality Blog

A blog on plant floor quality: IATF 16949:2016, ISO 9001:2015, layered process audits, 5S, health and safety, gemba & more. Our software, Beacon Quality, simplifies these processes with our mobile auditing solution.

7 LPA Questions That Don’t Work (and How to Fix Them)

Dec 04, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

“Garbage in, garbage out.”

That’s the mantra commonly ascribed to computer scientists and software engineers to describe how low-quality data impacts the software development process.

The same concept applies to manufacturing in the context of layered process audit (LPA) questions. Layered process audits are a high-frequency audit strategy aimed at ensuring process inputs comply with work standards, as opposed to trying to identify defects after production.

When it comes to LPA questions, creating a generic plant-wide checklist and adopting a “set it and forget it” approach doesn’t deliver meaningful data. Instead, manufacturers must invest time in the process, collecting input from quality, engineering and plant leadership to ensure questions are relevant and provide real value.

In other words, the effort you put into writing LPA questions determines the quality of data they ultimately provide.

With that in mind, this post looks at 7 generic LPA questions that don’t work, and how to fix them for more meaningful results.

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16 Terms Every Quality Professional Should Know

Nov 26, 2019  |  Paul Foster

If you’re new to layered process audits, it’s critical to make sure everyone on your team is on the same page with basic terms. Here we provide a guide of 16 essential terms to know when launching your LPA program and getting your team up to speed. Don’t forget to directly download your own copy of this guide to keep as a reference for yourself and your team.

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AIAG 2019 Quality Summit Highlights

Nov 15, 2019  |  Ease Inc

On October 2-3, 2019, the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) hosted its annual Quality Summit, an event that draws hundreds of industry leaders every year. As in previous years, the event took place at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, a familiar venue for those who have attended in the past.

We talked with Murray Sittsamer, president of The Luminous Group, and John Rose, quality systems manager for Jacobs Vehicle Systems, about the event. Some of the highlights from this year’s summit include key updates from industry groups about new quality initiatives, informational sessions and even a celebrity appearance.

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How to Hire a Great Quality Engineer

Nov 06, 2019  |  Ease Inc

According to a Deloitte study on the manufacturing skills gap, the U.S. will need to fill 4.6 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade, but over half of those are likely to sit vacant.

It’s a grim prospect for the manufacturing industry, where the average time to fill a position rose from 94 to 118 days from 2015 to 2018. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that as of September 2019, a full 500,000 manufacturing jobs remain open, a problem that affects nearly every company in the industry.

Quality departments are already feeling the pain, with a quick search of Indeed showing thousands of open positions for quality engineers nationwide.

What can companies do to adapt to the skills gap? And how can they ensure they’re bringing on the right hires?

To answer these questions and learn how to hire a great quality engineer, we talked to Craig Nowotny, general manager of Arthur Wright & Associates. The staffing firm focuses exclusively on filling positions in manufacturing, engineering and operations, an area where Nowotny has nearly 30 years of experience.

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Advanced Reporting Strategies for Layered Process Audit Data

Oct 29, 2019  |  Chris Shoe

Organizations just getting started with layered process audits typically focus on basic metrics like audit completion rate and overdue corrective actions. As they progress along their digital transformation journey, however, they could be getting more value from these specialized audits by asking more complex questions.

Executed correctly, layered process audits (LPAs) take place every shift, generating hundreds of data points daily. Multiply that out over the course of a year, and it’s clear that manufacturers have some pretty robust data sets at their fingertips.

Managing these vast quantities of data can be difficult when relying on spreadsheets and other manual data analytics tools. An automated LPA platform integrated with business intelligence tools like Tableau and Power BI makes it much simpler (even if many analyses still require having an analyst or data scientist on staff).

With that in mind, let’s look at some examples of how manufacturers can leverage deeper insights from the volume of data they collect daily.

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Breaking Down the Results of Our First Ever Hackathon

Oct 14, 2019  |  Scot Larsen

Leaders of established companies often wonder why they can’t innovate as fast as during the startup phase, when energy levels are high and the sky’s the limit. 

In truth, it’s a bit like wanting to be a freewheeling kid again, despite the fact that more mature companies have a much different set of responsibilities.

Ease’s 2019 Hackathon—the first ever—was aimed at seeing what would happen when we let our developers play like kids again. 

The goal: come up with bold new solutions to our customers’ most pressing problems, and fast. While the event represented a significant investment in time and resources, it’s already paying off big, with surprising results that will soon translate into increased productivity for our customers.

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Are Layered Process Audits Getting in the Way of Quality?

Oct 08, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

According to the Deloitte Automotive Quality 2020 report, auto manufacturers spend an average of 116 days annually on quality management system (QMS) compliance.

Layered process audits, which can number more than a thousand audits per year, can take up many of those hours for companies that perform these short, frequent checks.

Executed correctly, layered process audits (LPAs) can help sharply reduce defects and quality costs relatively quickly, but these high-frequency audits can also bury companies in administrative work if they’re not prepared.

This post examines classic problems standing in the way of quality, and how to fix them to make bigger and faster improvements.

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A Buyer's Guide Checklist to Mobile Layered Process Audit Software

Sep 20, 2019  |  Shawn Faircloth

Under pressure to achieve zero defects, many automotive and aerospace suppliers are leveraging mobile technology to strengthen their layered process audit approach. Layered process audits (LPAs) have traditionally been a time-intensive activity, requiring scheduling, follow-up and reporting on process checks taking place every single shift.

This complexity makes LPAs a prime target for automation, but like any digital transformation initiative, making the right choice requires careful consideration of a wide range of product capabilities. This checklist highlights some of the most important, so you can make an informed choice that helps enable process excellence.

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2019 Manufacturing Day: Tips for a High-Impact Event

Sep 05, 2019  |  Gavin Drake

On October 4, hundreds of thousands of students and others will participate in thousands of Manufacturing Day events across the country. The ultimate goal: get people excited about what modern manufacturing really means—and inspire the next generation of industry leaders.

If you’re one of the companies hosting an event, you may be wondering what you’ll actually do when people show up on your doorstep, or how you can ensure your plant tour goes off without a hitch.

Will people walk away from your event feeling energized and inspired? Or will it leave them wanting to know more? Let’s look at ideas, strategies and tips for making sure your Manufacturing Day event is a successful one.

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