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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.

Layered Process Audits: Going Beyond Compliance to Get More Value

Jan 07, 2020  |  Joe Plata

Do layered process audits drive real improvement in your organization? Or are they just another hoop to jump through for customers like General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler (FCA)?

Layered process audits are comprised of quick checks of high-risk processes, preventing defects by identifying when people aren’t working to standard. While each audit only lasts about 10 minutes, they also take place daily, creating an administrative burden that leads many manufacturers to simply treat them as busy work.

This “check the box” attitude creates its own avalanche of problems.

Completion rates are low, delivering little data. People pencil-whip audits by passing every item blindly—a problem for nearly half of respondents in our State of LPA survey. Completed checklists become an overflowing pile of unfinished paperwork, waiting for someone to enter and analyze the findings. When auditors do uncover problems, they may not receive the proper follow-up, sending the message that management doesn’t actually care.

It’s a vicious cycle that adds up to huge amounts of wasted time and money considering the effort required to set up, manage and track LPAs. Ultimately, this bare minimum compliance approach also means more defects, complaints and warranty costs. That’s because process failures lead to product failures, and if nobody’s looking for them, they will continue to impact quality.

In this post, we examine how to break this cycle, leveraging strategies like checklist design, problem-solving and automation to get more from LPAs and move beyond compliance.

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How a Pilot Program can Ensure Success for Your Automated Layered Process Audits

Dec 16, 2019  |  Travis Carlton

Whether we’re talking to a front-line operator, a plant manager or CEO, people’s reactions to being assigned a new recurring task are remarkably similar.

“Oh great—more to do.”

Sound familiar?

It’s a reaction that’s common in organizations transitioning from paper-based to an automated digital process for layered process audits (LPAs), even though the end result may be a sharp reduction in defects and simpler audit processes. While there are numerous benefits to moving from a paper-based to a mobile digital platform for your LPA program, the focus of this article is how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Layered process audits focus on quick, straightforward elements of process inputs, helping ensure process standardization and reduce defects upstream from the point of manufacture. Automating LPAs can involve a transition process, one made easier by adopting a pilot program to help you learn as you go. Here we discuss different types of pilot programs, as well as some best practices to ensure success.

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16 Terms Every Quality Professional Should Know

Nov 26, 2019  |  Paul Foster

If you’re new to layered process audits, it’s critical to make sure everyone on your team is on the same page with basic terms. Here we provide a guide of 16 essential terms to know when launching your LPA program and getting your team up to speed. Don’t forget to directly download your own copy of this guide to keep as a reference for yourself and your team.

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Advanced Reporting Strategies for Layered Process Audit Data

Oct 29, 2019  |  Chris Shoe

Organizations just getting started with layered process audits typically focus on basic metrics like audit completion rate and overdue corrective actions. As they progress along their digital transformation journey, however, they could be getting more value from these specialized audits by asking more complex questions.

Executed correctly, layered process audits (LPAs) take place every shift, generating hundreds of data points daily. Multiply that out over the course of a year, and it’s clear that manufacturers have some pretty robust data sets at their fingertips.

Managing these vast quantities of data can be difficult when relying on spreadsheets and other manual data analytics tools. An automated LPA platform integrated with business intelligence tools like Tableau and Power BI makes it much simpler (even if many analyses still require having an analyst or data scientist on staff).

With that in mind, let’s look at some examples of how manufacturers can leverage deeper insights from the volume of data they collect daily.

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Are Layered Process Audits Getting in the Way of Quality?

Oct 08, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

According to the Deloitte Automotive Quality 2020 report, auto manufacturers spend an average of 116 days annually on quality management system (QMS) compliance.

Layered process audits, which can number more than a thousand audits per year, can take up many of those hours for companies that perform these short, frequent checks.

Executed correctly, layered process audits (LPAs) can help sharply reduce defects and quality costs relatively quickly, but these high-frequency audits can also bury companies in administrative work if they’re not prepared.

This post examines classic problems standing in the way of quality, and how to fix them to make bigger and faster improvements.

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A Buyer's Guide Checklist to Mobile Layered Process Audit Software

Sep 20, 2019  |  Shawn Faircloth

Under pressure to achieve zero defects, many automotive and aerospace suppliers are leveraging mobile technology to strengthen their layered process audit approach. Layered process audits (LPAs) have traditionally been a time-intensive activity, requiring scheduling, follow-up and reporting on process checks taking place every single shift.

This complexity makes LPAs a prime target for automation, but like any digital transformation initiative, making the right choice requires careful consideration of a wide range of product capabilities. This checklist highlights some of the most important, so you can make an informed choice that helps enable process excellence.

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Layered Process Audit Metrics: 4 Enterprise-Level Numbers to Track

Aug 28, 2019  |  Chris Shoe

According to a recent LNS Research survey, 37% of quality leaders cite an inability to measure quality metrics as their number one barrier to achieving quality goals. Even worse, the survey showed a full 4 in 5 companies have poor visibility into real-time metrics.

These figures highlight a central problem in quality management: in an era of increasingly large data sets, how can manufacturers leverage this data for meaningful improvement?

It’s a question that’s especially relevant for manufacturers engaged in layered process audits (LPAs), a high-frequency verification strategy where teams conduct short audits every shift. With hundreds or even thousands of audits taking place over the course of a year, making sense of a large volume of data is a core challenge of LPA programs.

While plant managers often track metrics at a granular level, director and VP-level leaders need to look at the data a little differently at a higher level. Let’s look at four of the most important enterprise-level layered process audit metrics to track. 

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How to Use Gamification Principles to Boost Audit Participation

Aug 15, 2019  |  Paul Foster

When Deloitte wanted to get people excited about employee training, the company decided to adopt a gamification strategy for its online training portal. Using elements like achievement badges, missions and leaderboards, they achieved a 37% increase in participation.

And when Ford Canada gamified its sales and service training, platform usage jumped a massive 417%, with big gains in engagement among younger employees.

Saying gamification makes work a game is an oversimplification. In reality, it’s all about leveraging proven psychological principles around our motivation to compete, encouraging habits and behavior that improve business performance.

These principles can also be used in manufacturing to increase engagement in audits, which are critical to quality but often suffer from low participation. Key gamification tools and techniques to consider include mobile apps, competitions and recognition programs.

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The Future of Layered Process Audits

Jul 23, 2019  |  Ease Inc

With growth of digitalization in manufacturing, what does the future hold for Layered Process Audits (LPA)?  LPAs today generally verify human conformance to key processes with and outside set of eyes. But with automation, what will humans be doing?... and eyeballs won’t be as accurate as sensors.

Based on a presentation given by Murray Sittsamer and Richard Nave of The Luminous Group at our 2019 Beacon User Summit, this post will discuss the what layered process audit programs might look like in the future with advancement in technology. 

Industry 4.0 will be a $155 billion market by 2024, part of a rapid growth in technologies like machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. 

As Industry 4.0 picks up steam in automotive and aerospace manufacturing, we are witnessing an evolution towards more sensors, more data communication and more analytics. And while layered process audits (LPAs) could drive even more powerful quality insights and actions, companies also need to be aware of—and hopefully avoid—the potential downsides. 

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