Driving Quality – Part 2: COVID-19 and Automotive Manufacturing

In part 1 of this blog series I looked at how automotive component part suppliers can gain real business advantage from the IATF 16949:2016 automotive quality management system framework, rather than just complying with it.
 
Here, in part 2, I’ll be focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 on the management frameworks. How can you best comply with social distancing requirements while still meeting the stringent requirements of the framework—Measurement, Analysis & Improvement, and Performance Evaluation—and even thrive in a changing industry?
Enact and the Auto Industry

Where the Pandemic is Driving Manufacturing

COVID-19 is changing how manufacturing is doing business. Colleague Jason Chester, InfinityQS Director of Global Channel Programs, stated in his blog, Manufacturing’s 3-Step Journey to a Post-COVID-19 World, “proactive changes made now will pave the way for manufacturing in a post-COVID-19 world. It’s a transformational journey that we can split into three phases: survive, recover, and thrive.”
 
Survival, for Jason, takes on the aspect of flexibility. Recovery is a focus on thinking beyond mere daily “firefighting” —finding issues and solving them. And thriving is attained through digital transformation.
 
I would add to those by saying that, specifically, the pandemic is likely to drive or accelerate a host of behaviors key (but not unique) to the automotive industry:
  • Reducing cost by reducing the effects of scrap, re-work, and report creation.
  • Increased automation — Not just in manufacturing processes, but also in quality processes, in order to improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Increased flexibility — I would add to Jason’s thoughts on flexibility by saying that those businesses that have been able to react more quickly to change (such as those who have moved non-production staff out of the factory) have found it easier to deal with social distancing constraints. Remote working technologies are a key part of this.
  • Increased quality — Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be “tightening the screws” on Tier 1 suppliers in demanding higher quality products, with less variation, in order to improve their efficiency. Tier 1s will in turn demand the same of Tier 2s.
  • Increased standardization — In order to help achieve better quality, all levels will move to demanding compliance with IATF 16949:2016 and no longer accept ISO/TS 16949:2009. The 2016 standard specifically mandates the use of statistical process control, or SPC.
Enact on the Plant Floor 

Enact® Fits the Bill

Enact® is uniquely designed to help with all of the above.
 
Social distancing requirements vary by country and region. In some jurisdictions it’s two meters, in some six feet, in others one meter. But what’s certain is that it means differences from how you used to work.
 
Where product characteristics must be measured by an operator (rather than automatically as part of the process), this now often means that operators must now cover more workstations than previously in order to maintain appropriate distancing. To minimize retraining times, manufacturers are looking for ways to help prompt and guide operators to simplify the measurement process. Enact is a great help here—simple, prompted, and guided manual data entry helps speed the process. Along the way, this helps make your workforce more resilient and adaptable.
Enact Data Collection
Sample Enact Data Entry Screen  

There’s no doubt that, in the long term, COVID-19 will accelerate the trend to increased automation. Enact also helps here by integrating automated data collection (from any device) and manual data collection into a single database.

Increased flexibility also means better, faster reporting—the ability to spot what’s happening in real-time and get instant answers. Quality Managers often spend days per month in writing static reports to show management what did happen—instead, Enact provides live dashboards, which instantly show what is happening and provide the ability to drill into details, if needed.
Enact Dashboard
Sample Enact Dashboard with Box & Whisker and Pareto 
 
For analysts and managers who don’t need to interact directly with the factory floor, the ability to work at a distance is a big enabler for social distancing. As Enact is a cloud-based system accessed through a browser, it means that analysts and managers can work from anywhere they have access to the internet—on any device, including mobile phones and tablets.
Enact and the Auto Industry

Implementing Enact

If this all sounds great, the next challenge is how to implement it. Enact’s cloud-based architecture helps again.
 
There’s no database or application server to install, and no desktop software. Automated data collection requires the installation of just a single edge-server application in each factory location. It’s a very IT-lite process—which is great for IT teams who are trying to maintain social distancing.
 
It means you can run a small project team and achieve swift implementation for a proof-of-concept on a single process on one line, and then quickly and easily scale out once you’ve proved your return on investment (ROI).
 

Further Reading

 
 
Go back and read Part 1 of this blog series: The Automotive Supply Chain
 
 
Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips today: contact one of our account managers (1.800.772.7978 or via our website) for more information.
 
 
Sign up now to begin three free months of Enact software or contact your local Enact Channel Partner.
 
David Gurr
By David Gurr
Account Manager
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