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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.

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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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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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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Slideshare: Auditing the Process - Prevent Costly Process Failures

May 05, 2016  |  Ease Inc

Automotive and aerospace manufacturers continue to suffer from customer complaints, warranty claims and product recalls which result in high financial costs and damaged brand value.

Process related failures represent the largest component of the cost of quality. This presentation discusses the process errors involved and the difference between a standard audit, layered audit and using a layered audit platform to streamline deployment throughout the enterprise.

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Slideshare: The Compelling and Immediate ROI of Layered Process Audits

Apr 26, 2016  |  Mark Whitworth

Automotive and Aerospace manufacturing suppliers practice layered process audits to maintain quality control in increasingly demanding and challenging production environments. Learn the immediate ROI associated with LPA in this Linkedin Slideshare presentation.

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Three Key GM BIQS Controls Every Organization Should Implement

Apr 20, 2016  |  The Luminous Group

As one of the world’s largest automakers, General Motors (GM) must continually look for ways to increase value and reduce waste throughout its supply chain. Like many manufacturers, they are under pressure to keep ahead of the increasing challenge to meet demands for ever better, faster and cheaper products.

Following the unprecedented recall problems of the past few years, GM put some of their best and brightest minds together to develop new strategies that include their suppliers as one aspect of a multi-prong quality improvement initiative.

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