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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.

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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Mobile Audits & Corrective Actions: Are Devices Safe on the Plant Floor?

Oct 09, 2018  |  Scot Larsen

Mobile device usage in the workplace is skyrocketing, with research from Digital Strategy Consulting showing that 6 in 10 employees use apps for work activities. Of those using department-specific apps, more than half report increased productivity as a result.

Even manufacturing is seeing the effect, as mobile audit and corrective action apps become increasingly popular for helping quality management teams find and fix problems faster. But is it really safe to introduce mobile devices on the plant floor, given questions around data security and intellectual property?

Today we compare the risks and rewards of mobile audit and corrective action apps for manufacturers, and how you can protect your sensitive data.

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Improving Your FMEA Process

Jun 11, 2018  |  Scot Larsen

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a core tool for reducing automotive and aerospace manufacturing risks. And yet, companies routinely waste 80% of the potential value of the FMEA process.

Particularly for manufacturers on the lower end of the maturity spectrum, FMEAs are simply a theoretical exercise for maintaining a certification or meeting customer requirements. These manufacturers may fill out an FMEA and even add a few countermeasures, but ultimately it’s just another form to file away and forget about.

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The Aerospace Guide to Leading Indicators

Apr 02, 2018  |  Scot Larsen

Every day we glean insights from signals that show when a change is coming or we need to take action.

The smoke alarm goes off when you’re cooking, alerting you to turn down the burner. Your engine starts making a funny noise weeks before your car breaks down. That old injury starts to ache just before a storm front moves in.

In quality and manufacturing, we call these leading indicators, or measures that predict performance outputs. For aerospace suppliers in particular, mastery of leading indicators can help build a competitive advantage in an industry where many companies compete for the business of relatively few OEMs.

Getting to mastery, however, requires a solid understanding of how leading indicators work and how to effectively track them.

How to Measure Cost of Quality eBook

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Using the 80/20 Rule to Improve Quality in Auto and Aerospace Manufacturing

Mar 12, 2018  |  Scot Larsen

Pareto’s Law, also known as the 80/20 rule, tells us that 20% of inputs are responsible for 80% of results. Even when it’s not an even 80/20 split, the idea that a few factors drive a large proportion of outcomes applies to many business processes and everyday situations.

Like how a majority of complaints often result from a few key defects. Or how 20% of our time accounts for 80% of our productivity, with the remaining 80% spent on meaningless tasks.

In the automotive and aerospace industries, organizations can use a range of tools to leverage the 80/20 rule for bigger, faster quality improvements. Pareto management is the most obvious of these, but manufacturers should also apply the rule to performance metrics, risk management and audits.

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Layered Process Audit Implementation Basics for Aerospace Companies

Dec 18, 2017  |  Scot Larsen

Ask any meeting of automotive quality professionals, and the majority could tell you what a layered process audit (LPA) is. In aerospace, that number is smaller but growing. Aerospace suppliers and OEMs are just starting to realize the kind of transformation they can achieve by implementing an LPA program.

LPAs are high-frequency process audits that are helping aerospace companies dramatically reduce defects, quality costs and customer complaints. Organizations thinking about starting LPAs first need to understand how these unique process audits work, and what to expect during the implementation process.

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Evaluating Effective Supplier Quality Assurance

Jan 30, 2017  |  Scot Larsen

Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) is the process intended to ensure that a supplier reliably supplies goods or services that satisfy the customer’s needs. This process is collaborative to ensure the supplier’s offerings meet the agreed-upon requirements with minimum inspection or modification.

Effective quality assurance should incorporate a combination of process and product audits that manage external and internal checks and focus on supplier management, quality conformity of the product through its lifecycle, production and equipment quality and effectiveness, and pre-shipment inspections. In this article, we’ll take a high-level look at the overall SQA process and discuss key considerations that impact its effectiveness. It’s important to note that, while SQA applies to both products and services, we’ll simplify the topic here by speaking only to product-related processes.

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