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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.

Celebrating the Life of Quality Visionary Sergio Marchionne

Aug 01, 2018  |  Eric Stoop

On Wednesday, July 25th, Sergio Marchionne, longtime CEO of Fiat Chrysler, died due to complications after a recent shoulder surgery. We at Ease express our deepest condolences to Marchionne’s family and friends during this time.

Marchionne was a visionary, always working diligently to make positive and profitable changes to FCA and to the automotive industry as a whole.

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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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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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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 5 IATF 16949 Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

Aug 21, 2017  |  Joe Bollard

As of September 14, 2018, ISO/TS 16949 certificates will no longer be valid, requiring automotive suppliers to certify to the new version, IATF 16949. Transition audits are underway and will continue into next year, but many companies still have a long way to go to prepare. 

Let’s look at some of the biggest challenges companies are facing, including new requirements that could trip you up and how to efficiently document compliance.

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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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Rising to the Challenge: How Automotive Suppliers Are Addressing IATF 16949

Mar 09, 2017  |  Shawn Faircloth

In accordance with the new standard, IATF 16949, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recently published a document updating its customer-specific requirements. This publication, along with similar documents from General Motors and other large automotive customers, lays out tighter requirements that are prompting automotive suppliers around the world to evaluate their existing processes and systems to ensure compliance.

Notably, the document requires suppliers to conduct an internal quality audit at least once per year, and also mandates they conduct Layered Process Audits (LPA) on all elements of manufacturing and assembly lines that produce parts for FCA. In this article, we’ll highlight some of FCA’s specific requirements, evaluate their significance and in some cases, discuss potential solutions that can help companies with compliance.

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From Automotive to Aerospace: Key Cross-Industry Learnings on Quality Management

Jul 14, 2016  |  Ease Inc

What is quality management? 

Quality management ensures that products or services are consistent and conform to approved standards across key areas including planning, control, assurance and improvement. Quality management not only monitors product and service quality, but also assesses and examines the associated processes.  It's a big deal in every every industry - from automotive to aerospace.


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