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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.

How Software Can Close the Loop on Manufacturing Quality Control

Feb 04, 2016  |  Mark Whitworth

A recent Wall Street Journal article detailing how Boeing is facing up to 24 million dollars in FAA penalties over quality control going back several years across a number of locations shows how even the biggest manufacturers need to close the loop on quality control (QC). Closing the QC loop requires a two-way flow of information across functions that enable end-to-end visibility into quality across the value chain.

This can only be done when quality functions such as document control, compliance management, nonconformance/corrective and preventive actions (NC/CAPA), audit management, and others are integrated across critical business processes. It may be clear on the surface to manufacturers that moving beyond the concept of a bi-directional connection of people, processes, and data across the value chain is paramount to success in the manufacturing sector. That being said, the hard work of achieving that goal starts with understanding the benefits and the challenges of a closed loop approach to quality control.

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How to Use PFMEA to Jump-Start the Layered Process Audit Process

Jan 26, 2016  |  Ease Inc

In a manufacturing environment, it’s common for teams to run into Murphy’s Law - the notion that “anything that can go wrong, will.” A simple day that starts with an employee calling in sick, can escalate through other events such as a workstation running out of parts, a machine shutting down for unknown reasons, or similar issues which result in missing production targets for the week.

In order to minimize risks, plants should use a Layered Process Audit (LPA) program to ensure that the most important controls to prevent defects and waste are in place.  But with so many things that can go wrong, where do you start?  

One great tool to consider is Process-FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis). Teams that are looking to start a Layered Process Audit (LPA) program often have a long standing practice of doing PFMEA to determine their areas of high risk and frequent failures. Teams can use the Risk Priority Number (RPN) calculated from PFMEA as the basis for focus areas to prioritize when developing LPA questions.

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Stay Lean with Manufacturing Software Solutions

Jan 12, 2016  |  Ease Inc

In manufacturing, leaders innovate and grow while followers fall prey to inefficiency and waste. A recent report from the Aberdeen Group, Lean Manufacturing: Success Starts with Visibility and Alignment, describes how manufacturing leaders consistently benefit from having tools in place to track continuous improvement activities. In addition, 61% of these high performers provide management with a comprehensive, easy-to-understand view into operations. These results reinforce the truth that lean principles are only as good as the actionable data available, and it follows that organizational integration of manufacturing software solutions is key to process improvement.

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Process Audit: Driving the Change Towards a Quality Culture

Jan 05, 2016  |  Ease Inc

When implemented correctly, layered process audits (LPAs) go beyond satisfying customer requirements by transforming an organization’s culture into one that embraces continuous improvement. This powerful audit approach pays dividends by improving safety and quality, and delivers cost savings by greatly enhancing traditional assurance systems and making continuous improvement nearly routine.

The additional layers in LPAs ensure additional eyes are looking for issues, and the rotation of participants involved provides a powerful deterrent against those eyes “looking the other way” if even marginal concerns are identified. LPAs should include a wide spectrum of employees—from shop-floor operators to executives—conducting audits in order to verify that standardized procedures are followed consistently in the continuous pursuit of quality.

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5 Benefits of Implementing 5S Audits at Your Plant

Dec 16, 2015  |  Ease Inc

“Try not to make 5S a goal in itself. … Focus instead on the leadership part, building the right discipline and culture in your organization towards the objective of 5S: Create, maintain, and improve an efficient workplace organization with high levels of visual control.” Torbjørn Netland, Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Those are words of wisdom from an in-depth article on 5S entitled “5S – We Are Doing It Wrong” by an associate professor at Norway’s NTNU Department of Industrial Economics and Technology. Although the benefits of implementing 5S audits in a plant are many, realizing them requires a plant-wide focus on cultural change. As Netland notes in the article, the objective of 5S audits goes beyond the practice into developing “high levels of visual control.”

What follows are two broad areas of ROI and safety that reveal five business and bottom line changing benefits of conducting 5S audits in the plant.

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How to Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement with Audits

Dec 10, 2015  |  Ease Inc

World-class organizations live and breathe a culture of continuous improvement. When an error occurs, management systems kick in to investigate and prevent the cause. Even when problems do not occur, employees look for ways to reduce waste and improve performance. But how exactly does one create a culture of continuous improvement? A key catalyst is often a management tool called Layered Process Audits (LPAs).

When used properly, layered process audits can foster a culture of quality throughout an organization, thus leading to reduced scrap and rework, fewer customer complaints, and greater productivity. A Harvard Business Review article on sustainable performance makes a clear case for the benefits of total workforce involvement. This creates a culture of shared performance feedback and provides a greater sense of control in how things get done.

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How to Use the 8D Method to Find the Root Cause of Nonconformances

Dec 09, 2015  |  Shawn Faircloth

The 8D method, also known as the 8 Disciplines, first appeared in Ford’s 1987 Team-Oriented Problem Solving manual. It’s a tool that’s stood the test of time, becoming the main problem-solving method used in the company, today called Global 8D. 

Even though the 8D approach has been around for more than thirty years, many companies still struggle with ineffective problem-solving and weak implementation of corrective action.

This overview looks at 8D best practices and pitfalls to avoid, helping manufacturers better understand how to use the method to address nonconformances and reduce risk.

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Using LPA Systems to Break Communication Norms on the Shop Floor

Dec 08, 2015  |  Ease Inc

Just hearing the word “audit” can send some people into a frenzy. Whether it is a financial audit, an environmental audit, or even a basic process audit on the shop floor of a manufacturing plant, the person facing an auditor’s questions is likely to feel uncomfortable, if not downright defensive. But what if you could reverse the negative connotations associated with audits and show that the audit process can indeed yield positive consequences such as improved communication among your employees? If your organization is conducting layered process audits (LPAs), then you already have a mechanism in place to enhance consistent, two-way communication in the workforce.

Some of your shop floor employees may rely on their memories when completing important process steps, rather than referring to written procedures—this, of course, can result in deviations to written standards and potential nonconformances. A shop floor operator may feel uncomfortable admitting to a mistake or placing blame on a process that is simply not working. When a process change is implemented, employees must change habits that may be quite ingrained over time. As a result, some employees might slip back into old habits and processes. LPAs help ensure that this doesn’t happen and that work is being performed as intended.

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Core Lean Manufacturing Principles for Aerospace Manufacturers

Dec 01, 2015  |  Ease Inc

Quality guru Shigeo Shingo once said, “Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” For many in the aerospace industry, the exploration of lean manufacturing principles would qualify not only as something new, but also as something that merits consideration.

Lean manufacturing is a methodology for improving processes with continuous improvement (kaizen) and eliminating waste in the workplace. Many think of lean manufacturing as North America’s answer to the Toyota Production System (TPS), which enabled Toyota to deliver a wider variety of products more efficiently than the traditional mass production techniques of the era.

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