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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.

5 Root Cause Analysis Tools for More Effective Problem-Solving

Oct 30, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Next to defining a problem accurately, root cause analysis is one of the most important elements of problem-solving in quality management. That’s because if you’re not aiming at the right target, you’ll never be able to eliminate the real problem that’s hurting quality.

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Best Apple 2018 iPhone for Manufacturers

Sep 14, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Apple releases new iPhone XR : a new device for mobile auditing

A few days ago, Apple announced its 3 new iPhones for 2018: iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, and iPhone XR (pronounced “ten-R”), and it’s the iPhone XR that we’re excited about. Although we wouldn’t call it ‘cheap’ at $749, out of the 3 new iPhones, it’s the most cost-effective for manufacturers needing mobile devices for company use.  

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How Mobile Audit Tools Accelerate AIAG's Quality Road Map

Aug 13, 2018  |  Paul Foster

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has many resources for companies focused on continuous improvement, represented as a set of key checkpoints on its Road Map to Quality Success.

While it looks like a simple set of steps, the path isn’t necessarily straightforward. Each step is a process in and of itself, but there is one common tool that will help you get from point A to point B: audits.

Today we're looking at how audits, and specifically mobile audit tools, can help accelerate your progress towards quality goals.

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Manufacturing Quality Control: The Difference Between Product and Process Audits

Jul 30, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Imagine you’re a supplier seeing a troubling spike in returns over a component with high failure rates. After a lengthy investigation and millions in warranty costs, you discover certain workstations haven’t been heating a product element to the right temperature.

Having already distributed tens of thousands of faulty components, you realize the problem is far from over, putting your most important contracts at risk.

How does this happen, even with a robust system of product audits? The simple fact is that product inspections don’t always catch process issues responsible for defects. And while quality checks in manufacturing tend to center on product audits, process audits are just as (or even more) important to quality. Let’s look at the difference between product and process audits, and how they work together in the big picture of quality.

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7 Types of Questions to Include in Process Audit Checklists

Jul 23, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Companies that implement a layered process audit (LPA) system must account for a wide variety of questions. Which process areas will you audit?  How often will you audit them? What will the process audits cover? How will you take action when you find non-conformances?

At the heart of these high-frequency checks, however, are the questions you include in your actual audit checklists to verify processes are being done right. We’ve discussed strategies for writing LPA questions, such as providing context on why and how to check individual items. Today, we’re examining 7 types of questions to consider for your process audit checklists, including:

    • Safety
    • Materials
    • Motions
    • Workstation design
    • Process for reporting issues
    • Documentation
    • Follow-up

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Corrective Action: How to Sustain the Gain

Apr 30, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Equipment downtime gets expensive fast in automotive and aerospace manufacturing, a risk many companies try to mitigate by storing spare parts onsite. A machine breaks down, haul out the parts and hopefully you’re back in business with minimal disruption.

The problem is, manufacturers get so wrapped up in hitting production targets that they don’t stop to ask why the machine went down in the first place.

The result? The equipment goes down again, whether two days, two weeks or two months later, causing additional downtime because the “corrective” action was never designed to last.

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7 Ways Audits Unintentionally Block Visibility Into Quality

Jan 29, 2018  |  Paul Foster

What sets apart the top 20% of innovation leaders from their competitors? According to LNS Research, one key difference is that a majority (52%) of the top tier has real-time visibility into manufacturing quality metrics, compared to just 9% of the competition .

Organizations collect quality data in a variety of ways, including audits. For companies struggling with quality problems, audits themselves can stand in the way of identifying and fixing the underlying causes.

How is this possible when audits are meant to shine a light on your processes? Common barriers include reactive auditing methods, low audit frequency and data integrity issues.

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3 Things to Know About GM IATF 16949 Layered Process Audit Requirements

Jan 22, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Section 9.2.2.3 of General Motors (GM) IATF 16949 customer-specific requirements states,

“The organization shall incorporate an internal layered process audit process to assess compliance to standardized processes, to identify opportunities for continuous improvement, and to provide coaching opportunities.”

Layered process audits (LPAs) provide daily checks of high-risk processes and known customer issues, involving all layers of the organization and holding management accountable for quality. GM lists just nine elements in its IATF 16949 customer-specific requirements, but those few lines pack a huge punch in terms of their impact on supplier operations.

Suppliers must also read between those lines to earn or maintain IATF certification, addressing areas like management participation, corrective action verification and key performance indicator (KPI) tracking.

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How to Write Effective Layered Process Audit Questions

Jan 01, 2018  |  Paul Foster

Famous businessman Robert Half once said, “Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.”

It’s true whether we’re talking about interviewing and hiring—Half founded one of the largest global staffing firms—or whether we’re talking about quality management. The need to ask thoughtful questions to gain valuable information is especially critical when it comes to creating layered process audit (LPA) checklists.

In an LPA program, multiple layers of management audit high-risk processes at varying intervals, conducting daily checks that systematically reduce variation. These process audits are powerful because of their high frequency, and their ability to provide a real-time snapshot of shop floor processes critical to quality.

As for whether a company can achieve the biggest benefits from LPAs? That all depends on whether you have well-written questions—and how frequently you update them.

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