Top Global Vehicle Interiors Supplier Boosts Audit Engagement and Visibility with EASE

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Jacobs Vehicle Systems

Replaces Kamishibai with Beacon Quality to Improve Layered Process Audit Completion and Corrective Action Rates

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About Jacob’s Vehicle

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Overview

A large tire manufacturer with manufacturing plants and technology centers across multiple continents implemented EASE to get better results with layered process audits.

The company ultimately developed an innovative strategy using EASE to uncover systemic quality risks, resulting in identification and prevention of potential quality escapes.

Background

The client is an automotive supplier with over $2B in annual revenue, over 4,000 employees and dozens of manufacturing sites worldwide.

The company initially started conducting layered process audits (LPAs) using a paper-based and spreadsheet-based method. LPAs are required by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, and have also been adopted by other industries such as aerospace, medical devices, chemicals, consumer packaged goods and others.

Manual Processes Create More Work with Less Results

Before moving to digital LPAs, the manufacturer struggled with the inefficiencies of a paper-based and spreadsheet-based system, including difficulties with:

  • Manually entering audit findings from paper checklists into spreadsheet format
  • Updating forms and distributing checklists
  • Compiling, analyzing and reporting on data effectively
  • Completing mitigations in a timely manner
  • A large amount of labor involved in scheduling and executing audits

The company spent six months using an LPA system in one department without seeing the desired results. According to one senior manager, “It just made everything difficult. To roll it out to 40 separate processes just wasn’t going to work.”

Seeking a Catalyst for LPA Success

Recognizing that the paper-based system was very labor-intensive—combined with the fact that they needed to conduct LPAs across all sites—led the company to seek a new solution.

The tire manufacturer decided to try EASE to reduce the administrative burden of paper-based audits and the difficulty involved in achieving meaningful quality improvements.

“We needed a better way to implement LPAs,” says another quality leader at the company. “EASE wasn’t as resource-intensive as using spreadsheets.”

Using EASE to Find Systemic Risks

The automotive manufacturer has also used the EASE platform to come up with an innovative strategy for quickly identifying systemic problems hidden across a plant or multiple plants.

This strategy is based on using what the company calls focus questions to do a fast look across all machines when a failure occurs. The goal is to identify which problems are isolated issues versus those that may also be happening elsewhere—and must be fixed quickly before they impact customers.

Dynamic question banks are set up so that each question has one of the following tags or categories:

  • Equipment
  • Process
  • Material
  • Quality
  • Project sustainment

What makes the question library dynamic is that the team also uses a sixth category called focus questions specifically when a nonconformance occurs. If a randomized question from one of the five tags above has a finding during an audit, the tag is temporarily changed to a focus question.

Focus questions are then turned on for all audits on the same equipment type for four weeks. This strategy allows the manufacturer to immediately assess whether a nonconformance is a one-off incident or a systemic problem.

“If we change the tag Tuesday evening on third shift, then first shift Wednesday morning we’re looking at whether this same issue is occurring across all 30 machines,” says a senior manager. “It allows us to move fast, and that’s really what’s important.”

According to the industrial engineer, this approach has been instrumental in avoiding quality escapes.

“We’re uncovering a lot of quality issues that probably would not have been discovered before,” he says.


Seeing Repeat Findings As Critical Opportunities

Identifying repeat findings is a central goal of the team’s strategy around LPAs. Repeat findings trigger a Kaizen event or process change, helping the company prioritize its biggest quality risks.

This proactive strategy has helped the manufacturer drive real change with EASE, using the discovery of repeat findings as a leverage point for bigger quality results.

“The goal is to uncover repeat findings and address them with corrective actions. That’s where the win actually is. Metrics move on that— not one-off findings.”

Identifying Systemic Problems

Identifying Systemic Problems

 
Ambassador

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Influencer

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Leadership

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Trailblazer

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

 

Overview

An Eissmann manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic implemented EASE to replace paper and Excel tracking of layered process audits (LPAs). The EASE system has helped improve engagement with audits, delivering plant-wide visibility to resolve quality issues faster while saving hours every week on audit administration.


Background

Eissmann Group Automotive is a leading supplier of vehicle interiors for top automotive manufacturers worldwide. Headquartered in Germany, the company has 5,000 global employees and production facilities in eastern Europe, Mexico, China and the United States.

The Company first started with Kamishibai to replace lengthy 5S audits that were being performed infrequently. 5S audits were done once per month by group of around 5 auditors, who didn´t have always time to perform the audit. The set of questions was fixed and didn´t correspond with ongoing issues and problems to be found and fixed. The company started its layered process audit (LPA) program to meet customer-specific requirements under IATF 16949. Recognizing these high-frequency audits as a key strategy for preventing defects, Eissmann also uses LPAs to more proactively react to emerging or repeat quality issues.


Manual Audit Processes Increase Issue Response Time

An Eissmann plant in the Czech Republic initially used paper and Excel files to manage LPA checklists. According to Marie Křížková, Integrated Management System Manager, this approach was extremely timeconsuming. It also made it difficult to react flexibly to new requirements and complaints.

“The number of documents and Excel files was overwhelming,” says Křížková, noting that updating a single question required changing 20 documents. Each question was supported by a photo which had to be edited to point out the issue. A green frame was used to highlight compliance and a red frame to highlight a noncompliance with company standards. Each time, she would have to open the file, change the question, replace the pictures and reformat the pages.


“The entire process would take nearly a week,” Křížková says. “It was our biggest challenge.”


Then she had to print the new checklist and distribute it on the production floor. This needed to be done for every single production line, each of which had its own specific questions. The result was that it was very difficult to add questions in response to new standards or requirements, or to verify new countermeasures were in place

“The audits weren’t as flexible as I needed them to be,” says Křížková. “The whole thing started to lose its magic.”

Reporting was another weak link in the paper-based system, with results primarily kept in each production line where issues needed to be resolved. According to Křížková, this made it harder for management to identify issues occurring across more than one production line.


“From the standpoint of understanding the complete plant status, it really wasn’t providing useful or effective feedback,” she says.


Finding a Streamlined LPA Solution

Křížková first learned about EASE from a leading automaker onsite to evaluate her plant prior to awarding them a project. The customer’s positive experience led her to conduct further research online and eventually pursue a free pilot implementation, during which time she tested two other applications.

Her main requirement was that the system enabled frequent audits and checklist updates. It also needed to be user-friendly, with the ability to include photos for easy comparison of conforming vs. non-conforming status. Finally, she wanted something that would improve reporting to better identify trends and systemic issues.



“EASE met all my criteria,” says Křížková.


On top of meeting all her requirements, EASE’s plant-based pricing was more cost-effective than competing solutions that required monthly fees for each user. It also made more sense given that the number of employees at the plant is constantly changing.


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"We’re uncovering a lot of quality issues that probably would not have been discovered before,"



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Overview

A large tire manufacturer with manufacturing plants and technology centers across multiple continents implemented EASE to get better results with layered process audits.

The company ultimately developed an innovative strategy using EASE to uncover systemic quality risks, resulting in identification and prevention of potential quality escapes.

Background

The client is an automotive supplier with over $2B in annual revenue, over 4,000 employees and dozens of manufacturing sites worldwide.

The company initially started conducting layered process audits (LPAs) using a paper-based and spreadsheet-based method. LPAs are required by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, and have also been adopted by other industries such as aerospace, medical devices, chemicals, consumer packaged goods and others.

Manual Processes Create More Work with Less Results

Before moving to digital LPAs, the manufacturer struggled with the inefficiencies of a paper-based and spreadsheet-based system, including difficulties with:

  • Manually entering audit findings from paper checklists into spreadsheet format
  • Updating forms and distributing checklists
  • Compiling, analyzing and reporting on data effectively
  • Completing mitigations in a timely manner
  • A large amount of labor involved in scheduling and executing audits

The company spent six months using an LPA system in one department without seeing the desired results. According to one senior manager, “It just made everything difficult. To roll it out to 40 separate processes just wasn’t going to work.”


“The goal is to uncover repeat findings and address them with corrective actions. That’s where the win actually is. Metrics move on that— not one-off findings.”


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Manual Processes Create More Work with Less Results

Before moving to digital LPAs, the manufacturer struggled with the inefficiencies of a paper-based and spreadsheet-based system, including difficulties with:

  • Manually entering audit findings from paper checklists into spreadsheet format
  • Updating forms and distributing checklists
  • Compiling, analyzing and reporting on data effectively
  • Completing mitigations in a timely manner
  • A large amount of labor involved in scheduling and executing audits

The company spent six months using an LPA system in one department without seeing the desired results. According to one senior manager, “It just made everything difficult. To roll it out to 40 separate processes just wasn’t going to work.”


Seeking a Catalyst for LPA Success

Recognizing that the paper-based system was very labor-intensive—combined with the fact that they needed to conduct LPAs across all sites—led the company to seek a new solution.

The tire manufacturer decided to try EASE to reduce the administrative burden of paper-based audits and the difficulty involved in achieving meaningful quality improvements.

“We needed a better way to implement LPAs,” says another quality leader at the company. “EASE wasn’t as resource-intensive as using spreadsheets.”

Ultimately, the manufacturer decided to implement EASE because of the simplicity of scheduling and data collection.

“It uses all the rules you set up to automatically schedule audits, and you can pull up data from audits that were completed even just a couple of minutes ago,” says one of the company’s industrial engineers.

“That’s made it a lot easier to expand our audit coverage across the rest of our plants beyond the initial pilot areas where we had started with paper and pencil,” he adds.

Results

Results of implementing EASE include a more than 40% increase in audit completion rates, as well as improved accountability around addressing audit findings. Scheduling across different locations is also evenly distributed, minimizing audit gaps that allow process risks to grow unnoticed.

According to Rose, the ability to easily update and add questions is a major time-saver.

“With the paper cards, we’d have to go to the spreadsheet, type in the words, take a picture and scan it, print it and laminate it,” he says. Maintaining the card decks was cumbersome, and the process didn’t make it easy to clarify confusing questions. He says the team unanimously agrees that EASE is far easier to use and makes auditing much more efficient.

Today, Rose can change questions and monitor results, remove questions that always pass and add new questions for process changes or complaints. “Many of our questions also help us prepare for third-party audits,” he says.

Every week, Rose gives a performance update during his plant’s daily staff meeting, and he’s able to quickly pull audit completion results and Pareto charts of top issues. Part of that weekly meeting includes holding people accountable for corrective actions. Rose says there’s much more visibility around overdue open actions, helping him spot bottlenecks in the process.

On a larger scale, the new audit process is helping Rose and his team drive cultural change. More dialogue is happening around proposed solutions, with team members discussing which fixes will be most effective.

“We’re getting to where most of our organization is comfortable doing audits,” Rose says. “Management is also getting comfortable looking at what the reports are telling us, and what our long-term, systemwide corrective actions need to be.”

“It’s not to call them to the table, but it’s to say, ‘Hey, what’s the holdup? Did you just have too much to do last week, or is it because this finding needs a very long corrective action?’” he says. “It’s having those open conversations that weren’t really happening before.” 

After piloting the software at its Bloomfield location, the team decided to deploy EASE in two more global plants. Jacobs rolled out EASE to its China site, and its Czech Republic site is getting ready to go live. The team has also expanded the use of EASE from LPAs to include safety and 5S audits. 

In monthly management meetings, leadership can now easily review top-level metrics for all locations. Rose highlights the ability to spot trends across the plant and even across global sites as a key factor in communicating lessons learned for continuous improvement.

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Ambassador

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Leadership

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Influencer

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.

Trailblazer

Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions. The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks.