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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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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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7 LPA Mistakes to Fix Before Your Next Customer Audit Checklist [Plus Download!]

Mar 15, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

New call-to-actionWhen 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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7 Signs Your LPA Program is Struggling

Jan 22, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

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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7 Mistakes to Avoid with Layered Process Audit Checklists

Sep 04, 2018  |  Richard Ruiz

Consider the last time you conducted a layered process audit. What did you learn? How much insight did you get to improve the process? Did you have the opportunity for coaching and feedback?

If the answer to any of these questions was “not much,” then you’ve got work to do on your layered process audit checklists.

Layered process audits (LPAs) are a type of high-frequency audit common in automotive and aerospace manufacturing. The audits take place multiple times daily and require participation from all levels of the organization, creating a series of checks to catch process errors before they become defects.

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Familiarity Isn't Enough: How to Understand and Fix Manufacturing Processes

Jul 16, 2018  |  Richard Ruiz

Anyone who’s hired a quality management consultant knows that familiarity with processes isn’t necessarily the same as understanding them. The consultant’s outside perspective is often their greatest value, allowing them to ask questions that challenge the status quo.

And yet, many automotive and aerospace manufacturers still tend to mistake process familiarity for true understanding, an error that breeds complacency, variance and defects.

A layered process audit (LPA) program is a high-frequency auditing strategy that can bring these variances to the surface. However, LPAs only work when they drive a deeper understanding of your processes via the right questions, frequency and cross-functional participation.

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How Layered Process Audits Foster Quality Management Maturity (chart included)

Jul 02, 2018  |  Richard Ruiz

Management expert Philip Crosby famously asserted that quality is free, declaring that managing defects always costs more than doing things right the first time.

It’s even the title of his 1979 book Quality Is Free, which provides Crosby’s detailed quality maturity grid for helping organizations evaluate their performance.

Quality management maturity should obviously be every auto and aerospace manufacturer’s goal, but it can be hard to get from point A to point B. High-frequency audit strategies, specifically layered process audits (LPAs), provide a defined path for getting there.

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Layered Process Audit Checklist Template: 10 Questions to Get Started

Jun 15, 2018  |  Richard Ruiz

 

This layered process audit checklist template is intended to help automotive and aerospace suppliers get started with LPAs. Note that this LPA checklist is a starting point for ideas, and should be customized to the specific department, work area and process being audited.

As you create your own LPA checklist, try to limit it to 10 questions that take no longer than 10 minutes to answer. Questions should be:

  • Objective: Use yes or no questions where yes means pass and no triggers mitigation or corrective action.
  • Specific: Avoid terms like “properly” or “correctly.”
  • Concise: People who are not process experts should be able to easily answer the questions.

 The LPA checklist is an editable Excel spreadsheet that you can alter to your specific needs. Directly download, and start using today! Note: Make sure to ‘scale to 1 page’ when printing in ‘landscape’ format for ease of use.

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6 Key Steps for Your Layered Process Audit Implementation

Aug 10, 2017  |  Richard Ruiz

If you could reduce defects by half in just a few months, what would that mean for your company?

It’s possible with a layered process audit (LPA) program, but the complexity involved with these audits means many companies don’t leverage their full potential. With LPAs, every layer of management participates in daily checks of high-risk processes. It’s a tall order for many organizations, requiring a solid plan and a prepared team.

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