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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.

6 Dashboard Metrics for Your LPA Program

Jun 24, 2019  |  Chris Shoe

Implementing layered process audits (LPAs) in your facility can mean conducting hundreds of audits every single month, a process that generates a large volume of quality data.

As manufacturers lean into Industry 4.0 initiatives, that volume of data is only growing. But according to Forrester, up to 73% of data within businesses never gets analyzed.

How can automotive and aerospace manufacturers leverage more of their LPA data to maintain steady progress towards their quality goals?

The answer lies in dashboarding, which allows teams to keep their most important metrics front and center for more effective communication and goal-setting. This post looks at some of the most critical numbers to focus on in order to ensure your LPA program is effective at driving down defects, complaints and costs.

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How Layered Process Audits Drive a Culture of Quality

Jun 03, 2019  |  Murray Sittsamer

Quality is actually quite simple—it’s the human element that makes it difficult. We all know it can be challenging to get employees to follow a standardized set of steps, as people often have their own reasons for taking shortcuts or deviating from the established standard.

The problem is that when people deviate from standards, you’re less likely to achieve the desired outcome. That’s where layered process audits (LPAs) can make a big difference, providing frequent process verifications that address the human element of process adherence.

 In this post, we’ll look at how LPAs help create a culture of quality in manufacturing plants, promoting process conformance and employee engagement. The payback is in improved quality metrics and lower cost of poor quality.

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Comparing GM and FCA Layered Process Audit Requirements in IATF 16949

Apr 23, 2019  |  Paul Foster

In 2017 and 2018, respectively, General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) both released new customer-specific requirements that suppliers must meet for IATF 16949:2016 certification. Among other topics, the automakers outline layered process audit (LPA) requirements, each putting their own spin on these high-frequency checks aimed at process standardization.

If you’re a supplier for both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it’s important to understand what the two sets of requirements have in common—and where they’re different.

Understanding the details is the only way to create an LPA program that’s streamlined and ensures customer satisfaction. Here we compare the two sets of requirements and summarize best practices for an LPA program that satisfies both of them.

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Risk Management for Automotive Suppliers: 4 Critical Places to Focus

Apr 09, 2019  |  Paul Foster

When you look at standards like IATF 16949 or ISO 9001, the requirements boil down to two essential elements: improving customer satisfaction and reducing risk.

They go hand in hand, because effective risk management means safer products and happier customers—and fewer problems for their suppliers.

To help automotive suppliers proactively avoid quality and safety issues, we’re looking at 4 important places to focus for improving risk management and reducing costs.

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7 LPA Mistakes to Fix Before Your Next Customer Audit Checklist [Plus Download!]

Mar 15, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

New call-to-actionWhen a customer asks to see your layered process audit (LPA) documentation, will you be ready?

For many manufacturers, the answer is no. Instead of having proof of an effective LPA process, they’re left scrambling for data that show low audit compliance and few actual results. Unfortunately, poor LPA processes are enough to fail a customer audit, which could put your key contracts at risk. 

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5 Lessons from Our 2018 Champions for Quality Winners

Feb 05, 2019  |  Eric Stoop

One of the highlights from last year’s Beacon User Summit was our first annual Champions for Quality Awards. Before jumping into what we learned from our champions, we’d like to introduce the 2018 award winners:

Catalyst Award: Tom Sholty, Girtz Industries

Sholty is a quality manager who led Girtz’s ISO 9001:2015 certification, also helping lead the company to the Quality Magazine 2018 Quality Leadership 100. His efforts helped reduce Girtz’s warranty rate to 0.26% of sales dollars and nonconformance rate to 0.89% of sales dollars, both record lows for the company.

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7 Signs Your LPA Program is Struggling

Jan 22, 2019  |  Richard Ruiz

If your organization conducts layered process audits (LPAs), which of these statements accurately describes your results?

A. We’ve significantly reduced defects and complaints, using these high-frequency process audits to improve standardization.

B. We’ve been doing LPAs for awhile, but we’re not seeing much change in quality.

Those of you that answered B may question if LPAs are just a pointless customer requirement, or whether there are deeper problems within your approach. Here we examine 7 signs of a struggling LPA program, with tips and strategies for improving your results.

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How to Talk to IT About Mobile Auditing Software

Jan 15, 2019  |  Tim Reynolds

Mobile apps are now an essential part of workplaces today, with 9 in 10 users indicating that work-related apps have changed their business behavior. And yet, over half of professionals say their organization is slow to deliver these efficiency-boosting apps to employees.

Despite the explosive growth of software as a service (SaaS) and mobile solutions, in many industries there are still big concerns around security and reliability. At the same time, manufacturers wanting to improve compliance and reduce defects are realizing that tools like mobile audit software can unlock huge gains in productivity and effectiveness.

So how do you approach the conversation if you’re preparing to meet with your vendor management or IT steering committee about implementing mobile audit software? You’ll want to focus on key elements such as platform security, efficiency and overall reliability.

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Revisiting Deming's 14 Points for Industry 4.0

Jan 08, 2019  |  Eric Stoop

In 1982, W. Edward Deming’s Out of the Crisis outlined 14 points companies could learn from his success helping drive the industrial boom of post-WWII Japan.

The idea that quality pays was revolutionary at the time. Today, another revolution is taking place. Industry 4.0 represents a tectonic shift in manufacturing technology focused on automation, data exchange and interconnected cyber-physical systems.

But these massive changes don’t make Deming’s points any less relevant today. In fact, Industry 4.0 reinforces many of Deming’s 14 points—and can help the next generation of quality leaders relate to these foundational concepts.

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