Technology and Quality Management Systems

Darrell Herrick, Vice-President Quality, Brose North America
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Darrell Herrick, Vice-President Quality, Brose North America

Darrell Herrick, Vice-President Quality, Brose North America

Early quality management systems were designed with the intent of predicting the outcome of a process using basic statistical processes and random sampling of measured features. As labor costs started to become a burden, the focus of the quality management system shifted to early identification of problems within the continuous improvement cycle. Throughout the years, from single-piece production to mass production, the quality management system, in its various forms, has always played a critical role, adapting to the times.

Brose has recognized the digital change in the automotive industry, known as Industry 4.0, along with evolving lifestyles (digital natives, future cities, aging population, connected lives, single living and shared economy) requires a different way of thinking to stay competitive. We are at the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles, which will require a vast array of comfort features and exciting innovations. These technology advances present both challenges and opportunities for the modern quality management system. Brose is tackling the task through innovative manufacturing processes and product portfolio enhancements, paired with an agile quality management system, to promote and sustain future growth.

Technology can be leveraged to automate processes such as Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), Control Plan (CP) creation and layered process audits (LPA). For example, by using state of the art FMEA/CP software, a quality engineer can ensure seamless continuity throughout the documents. This software technology can be used as a closed loop Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and continuous data flow to capture the lessons learned from current quality issues and apply these to future FMEA/CP to allow Brose to design out or put process controls in place to eliminate repeat defects. This data will also improve transparency between Brose manufacturing sites and business divisions, which are developing the next innovative product.

Brose’s strategic quality focus is on excellence in basics in manufacturing processes and utilizes innovative software and hardware in its LPA. LPA ensures internal processes are followed, and allows Brose to take immediate action on non-conforming ones. The newly implemented LPA software will allow findings to be reported in real-time to promote transparency throughout Brose manufacturing facilities and the Brose Group worldwide. The digitized LPA is a single system to perform all tasks and is broken into four main tasks with several benefits to aid in overseeing Brose’s quality management system. First, the audit planning task focuses on saving time with automated scheduling while the auditing task enables the creation of specific questionnaires via the question library. Auditing can be done remotely over smart devices and pictures can be attached to each question. The software sends instant mail notifications in response to non-conformances. The corrective action task assigns action verification to individual parties or sets it automatically. Finally, the reporting task provides a built-in reporting functionality with drill down and systematically stores all findings for a set period.

  By using state of the art FMEA/CP software, a quality engineer can ensure seamless continuity throughout the documents​  

Process error-proofing and detection methods must also keep pace with these new products. As these systems become more complex, the verification method becomes more sophisticated (i.e. red rabbits, red herrings, dynamic checks).

Brose is in the process of migrating its facilities to have inline quality assurance, previously housed in a separate quality lab. This integration deletes several steps: taking parts offline, marking them, transporting them to and from the quality lab and waiting for results in a potential queue of parts to be measured.

The Brose quality organization is now armed with data acquisition equipment to benefit its problem-solving specialists by providing autonomous, agile and swift conversion of qualitative problems into quantitative data, which helps solve chronic and crisis problems. The data gathered provides insight previously unavailable to quality engineers and is crucial in exposing the true root cause of quality issues. This equipment is especially valuable to the Brose warranty organization as customers increase their emphasis on warranty NTF (no trouble found) reductions. The data acquired has led to lower cost of quality and increased customer satisfaction, which also allows Brose to meet its main goal—defect-free product to the end consumer.

Modern technology can also improve communication and efficiencies throughout the supply chain. Supplier portals expedite communication, which affords the ability to communicate quickly corrective actions and Production Part Approvals (PPAP) in a streamlined way. Conversely, the supplier organization can quickly communicate with customers via similar portals and keep track of customer-specific requirement changes.

Multi-national corporations can use platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint or similar applications to communicate the same information across all divisions with clarity. These easily accessible platforms allow teams all over the globe to collaborate and contribute to corporate projects with efficiency.

In summary, technological advances can reach far beyond the shop floor and into the office and quality lab. It is up to the individual organization to decide which of these advancements are most effective for their own goals and implement them systematically. With proper use of these advances and a solid quality philosophy, an organization can ensure its goals are met, and it remains agile and efficient in reaction to changing demands.

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