Because of its complex supply chain dependencies, societal implications, widespread use of social media and its ability to impact product quality issue: even a single misstep or oversight in quality can cause massive setbacks within a matter of minutes in the automotive world. These issues are magnified in today’s global economy.
We have seen in an increase in high profile automotive recalls over the past several years that have costed a fortune to several auto giants to correct. Some have had lingering damage to their brand names resulting in lost market share.
Though these might be some of the most expensive recalls ever to strike the auto industry; they will not be the last. Every day government regulations becoming more stringent, as dissatisfied consumers uncover new product issues and increasing competition compels auto makers to deploy increasingly complex supply chains to support their businesses.
In an attempt to cut costs and remain competitive, auto companies are expanding their global supply chains, by offshoring and outsourcing components many times at the cost of “product reliability”.
But the fact remains that the final product must comply with the regulations of the country in which it is intended to be sold.
A single misstep overlooked in the supply chain causes a domino effect and may prove to be a costly affair. With further product recalls which could easily accumulate to multi-billion dollar losses, the lasting financial effects most severely impact small companies as compare to the large enterprises.
Another important aspect is the new innovation era in the automotive industry, regarding quality and compliance which is taking a centre-stage hence increasing the complexity in the automotive supply chain.
Needless to say, that suppliers’ way up the supply chain must be as much cautious about quality as the industry giants.
In prevalence of IATF 16949 and other customer specified quality standards such as General Motor’s QSB, German Auto makers’ VDA, AIAG specified CQI guidelines the suppliers are becoming as aware as the OEM.
In today’s world, the ability to demonstrate precision and effective compliance has become the entry pass for being an approved automotive supplier.
Therefore, managing the quality of an automotive supplier through an “EQMS way” has become the need of the hour.
With an automotive-focused QMS Software solution that includes Document Control, Audit, NC/CAPA, Training, Inspection and Supplier Quality best practice workflows along with Risk-Based-analysis , the Qualityze EQMS suit makes sure you demonstrate top quality management practices and stay at the top of the preferred vendor list!
Here are some tips to automotive companies and how to use a “EQMS way” of managing quality by using Qualityze’s closed-loop EQMS to satisfy the ever-increasing demands of customers, industry standards and to carve a niche in the highly competitive automotive industry environment.
Using the wrong version of documents is a very common error which may prove costly in the cases where wrong version of part specifications being communicated to the supplier which in turn causes line stoppage especially in the cases of JIT (Just-in-Time) parts meant for the production line. There have been cases that just to prevent transportation damages the part design got changed to suit the after sales business requirements. As it is quite obvious that based on the quantity and lot size of the parts, the packaging type differs for the spare part business as compared to factory production.
In addition to it, the delivery location and transport method also makes significant difference while formulating the packaging strategy. And any miscommunication even for packaging specification can result in downtime for factory production and further customer dissatisfaction under the after sales business where customer waits for the spare part.
Managing such specifications through a cloud-based EQMS document management module helps to avert such issues and ensure smooth delivery of parts by keeping the suppliers abreast of latest packaging requirements.
Among various industries, the automotive industry is understood to be the most dynamic. Connected Cars and autonomous driving is an aspect of the industry transformation.
However, in order to keep pace with such growing technology and to gain competitive advantage, the automotive companies need to focus on enhancing capabilities of their workforce as well as the skill of their dealerships for maximizing the success of connected cars.
Such technology compels the traditional auto manufacturers to break the stereotype of being “car-builders” and to focus forward about offering connected services.
A decade ago, OEMs used to simply outsource the navigation systems to third part vendors however now they are seeing greater value to more closely collaborate with the non-traditional suppliers such as Sharp, Google, Apple and Nvidia to emphasise on reliability and performance standards.
The skill-shortages and skill-mismatches may emerge as a constraint to achieve the growth targets for an automotive company.
Hence managing the employee competency through a closed-loop EQMS is becoming a need for an automotive company to effectively manage and develop advanced capabilities in the workforce.
This becomes even more crucial for an automotive company when it requires them bringing on board the subject matter experts on cloud and connected services, big data analytics and digital content to formulate a well-connected product strategy.
The auto industry is expected undergo an unprecedented shift in the coming decades and thus redefining equation for every player and relationship throughout the value chain. Apparently, the biggest technological development is the advent of robotic cars where human control will not be required.
In that scenario auto dealers will also be expected to sell services and software upgrades for the vehicles, rather than being limited to spare parts and components.
This implies that car makers shall require to train their dealer networks to sell automated cars and services that will be of utmost importance for building market demand.
A closed loop EQMS can play an effective role to ensure that OEMs stay well connected and have effective control on their dealer network with regard to trainings, compliances, complaints and audits etc.
Functional Quality Processes
The product quality is a critical concern in automotive sector. Even the automobile customers pay close attention to quality and often try to relate it in terms of pricing and performance.
After buying a car the customers expect safe and reliable operation with low maintenance costs in due course of time.
Such competitive concerns compel an automotive company to formulate strong functional quality processes along the value chain and therefore to design a vehicle with reliability over the life cycle so that buyers of even the second-hand cars can have a positive experience over the years.
This is the reason that automotive companies focus on extensive supplier quality management.
While developing a new model they take cognizance of the failures identified in previous model and therefor try to design the new version which undergoes various quality gates and leverage FMEA and QFD.
With globalization of production, the automotive companies are under constant pressure for consistency in cars that all appears the same for consumers regardless of the location they were produced.
Apart from this, automotive companies typically have strong quality functions where even the governance is also disciplined.
The periodic reviews of attained quality performance takes place at various level.
The root cause analysis is done jointly and all newly identified defects are reviewed in the preceding 24 hours with an action plan ahead. Even the KPIs are cascaded down the line at various functional levels with clear accountability.
Not limiting to this, the industry standards such IATF 16949 and other customer specified guideline standards requires an automotive company to pay greater attention to the quality aspects of the product.
Thus, managing the quality process for an automotive company through a closed-loop EQMS can help to have effective control over the supplier specific issues and handling the customer complaints and putting those requirements while formulating the product strategy as well.
Final Thoughts (Qualityze for Automotive!)
Quality is deeply embedded into automotive manufacturing.
The Qualityze understands this and that’s why it’s close-loop EQMS is having an integrated approach for managing all aspects of QMS in an automotive company to deal with it effectively.
For example, Qualityze’s Audit Management Module with a quite user friendly interface can help an automotive company to create audit checklists against desired auditing standard (such as IATF 16949/VDA/QMS/Supplier audit etc.) with required scoring system, which can be then linked to various “Type” of audits to create various “Audit Program” based on different audit ‘types’.
Thereafter executing planned (and also ad-hoc) audits and report audit observations to be actioned through a systematic action plan (CAPA) in a closed loop manner.
You can track the progress of audit events, action plan through the dashboard and also the automated notifications and report links being delivered to your e-mail on desired frequency.
Furthermore, if an audit outcome requires you to come up with a new procedure or revision for an existing documentation then it’ll redirect you to its Document Management module through which you can create documents such as SOP/Procedures, Instructions, forms/checklists etc. and can manage it effectively.
If any of your document requires change/revision then you can create a draft copy and connect with the relevant stakeholders to perform ‘collaboration review’ to reach conclusion for the changes which will be acceptable to all and then it will be incorporated as final revised document for further release and circulation.
You can conduct internal audits from Audit Management module by using a checklist (from Document management Module).
You can execute audits and circulate observations. If any grave issue reported then it can be managed from CAPA module through which action plan can be initiated for Corrective Action and considers Risk-based-Thinking (RBT) approach to prevent repeat issues.
If any of audit observations requires any correction in a Procedure or Instruction then it can generate a task for that document owner who will revise and close that action. Until a task is closed the audit observations will remain open thus proving it a closed loop system in real sense!
You can also track the progress of audit events, action plan through the informative dashboard which serves you as the cockpit and also the automated notifications and report links being delivered to your e-mail on desired frequency.
Not only this, but it also helps you to determine risks and their counter measures with its inbuilt risk based determining characteristics at relevant steps.
It is no surprise that Qualityze has been chosen amongst the “20 Most Promising QMS solutions providers of 2018” by the CIO Review. (Read the article about Qualityze being a yardstick of quality to be gauged and get engaged!)
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