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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 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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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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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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Layered Process Audit FAQs for Aerospace: Who, What, When, How and Why

Dec 26, 2017  |  Eric Stoop

Leading automotive companies require suppliers to conduct layered process audits (LPAs), a requirement experts say may soon come to aerospace companies via the AS9100 standard.

LPAs provide daily checks of high-risk processes, verifying operator adherence to standard processes to minimize variation and defects. Aerospace companies that implement LPAs have cut defects by 53% in six months, offering convincing evidence that these frequent audits are worth the investment in time and resources.


For those considering implementing LPAs or information on best practices, following is an overview of LPA basics, addressing questions like who should participate, what LPAs cover, how to implement them and why they’re critical to quality.

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How to Implement a Layered Process Audit System Across Your Plant

Dec 04, 2017  |  Paul Foster

First, the good news: You've just landed a contract with a major automaker, an opportunity that promises to be a huge game-changer for your organization.

Now the not-so-good news: the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requires you to implement a layered process audit (LPA) program across your plant. LPAs are a sub-type of process audits that apply multiple layers of checks to process inputs known to affect quality. LPAs verify that operators are following standard procedures every shift to minimize variation, defects and costs.

Implementing these high-frequency audits is a condition of doing business with leading automotive OEMs, but they also build the foundation for quality culture. Here we discuss the main steps of implementation, including planning your LPA program, conducting audits and ongoing improvement.

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Creating a Gemba Walk Checklist

Oct 10, 2017  |  Eric Stoop

They say what gets measured gets managed, but what about the things you can’t measure—the ones you need to see with your own eyes to understand?

Like the workstation that could be set up for faster throughput. Or the critical calibration tool that happens to be chronically broken. Or the process that has too many steps, creating a bottleneck. In these and other situations, identifying the right solution often means going to see the source of problems firsthand.

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Top Problems Preventing Aerospace Suppliers from Creating a Culture of Quality

Sep 13, 2017  |  Eric Stoop

In December of 1998, NASA launched the Mars Climate Orbiter, a robotic space probe intended as the communications relay for the Mars Polar Lander. By September of 1999, the spacecraft had disintegrated after coming too close to Mars and passing into its upper atmosphere.

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Layered Process Audit Systems: Making an Impact Leadership Will Notice

Aug 14, 2017  |  Nicolas Minbiole

Quality professionals are the unsung heroes of manufacturing. Your top goal is reducing defects and improving quality, and yet sometimes it feels like all you get is resistance.

Taking the time to do things right can impact production targets, often meaning that quality is only valuable to the point that it reduces defects to tolerable levels. In many cases, you’re also contending with inefficient systems focused more on reacting to problems than preventing them.

If you’re facing these roadblocks and wondering how you can make your mark, a layered process audit (LPA) program is a high-return initiative that can help you do it.

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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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