Case Studies: Fastening Quality Management
Quality management is an essential element for fastener and C-class component maker Anixter Fasteners (Gloucester, United Kingdom), but it has not always been an easy process to manage. This is not unexpected for an organization of this scale that has more than 60 sites, many of which include acquired businesses with their own quality management systems (QMS) and operating platforms.
Finding a solution to address the integration of all the different QMSs-and the mind-boggling number of records and documents they contained-into a single, scalable and flexible system was a mammoth task. The attainment of this goal required the cooperation of all the various offices and personnel.
“My role was and remains to bring all our quality management into one place so that we could develop a single companywide repository and resource for quality information,” says Adrian Lloyd, global quality systems manager. “We looked at several different systems applicable to our size of business and we settled on Proquis Enterprise with the allCLEAR process mapping tool.”
Phased ImplementationAnixter purchased Proquis Enterprise with allCLEAR process mapping in January 2007. Proquis (Sittingbourne, United Kingdom) supplied a range of tailored modules that would underpin the fastener company’s quality management approach and compliance to ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 18001 (occupational health and safety) standards. In total the company bought 8 modules:
- Audit management
- Customer care
- Document control
- Equipment control
- Health and safety
- Issues and actions
- Personnel management
- Supplier control
Benefits Realized in 5 Months“By now we are using and benefiting from the majority of the Proquis modules, including audit management, document control, customer care, supplier control, and issues and actions-which links across all the modules and to some extent personnel management,” says Lloyd. Lloyd particularly enjoys the customer care module because of how it has changed the way in which customer service managers are able to operate.
“We have uploaded all our customer data into Proquis and this allows us to quickly log a raised issue and monitor the action,” says Lloyd. “As Proquis is our global QMS, we are able to review and analyze customer issues globally, and this helps us to identify common issues, with the aim of quickly rectifying them.
“In addition Proquis allows our customer service managers to be fully briefed on any outstanding issues with customers before they call on them. This means there are no surprises as they know the exact state of play with each customer,” says Lloyd.
This global vision and ability to analyze customer concerns on a worldwide basis has enabled Anixter to tighten up its procedures and quality management.
The audit module is fully implemented for internal auditing, allowing the quality management team to take control of site audits. Anixter can schedule audits from a central point and easily assign auditors to sites.
“Via Proquis we are able to see exactly what is going on for each audit,” says Lloyd. “Moreover, we have been able to standardize on the audit procedure across the group and establish common questionnaires and common scoring methods, which have completely replaced idiosyncratic practices prior to implementing the Proquis QMS.”
The system has helped Anixter to establish and implement escalation rules for closing out issues. If these are not followed and the issues remedied, managers are alerted of the outstanding work. In all, this has given Anixter access to a highly visible workflow that it never had before.
A business on the scale of Anixter generates massive amounts of documentation, but with the Proquis document control module, mountains of spreadsheets and manual records have been leveled.
Anixter now has an automated approvals process with all documents held in a single repository. This saves a lot of time in finding the right document, making changes and gaining approval for those changes. Anixter does not need to keep manual records anymore, as all superseded documents can be viewed within the system.
“This is a fantastic development for us as it means that instead of trying to manage and use nine different paper-based quality systems, the team members are able to use their time to develop standardized schemes that we can roll out across the entire company,” says Lloyd.
With the massive range of products that Anixter provides, supplier management is paramount to quality management. Anixter found the answer to this in the Proquis supplier control module. “We had six different systems populated with supplier data,” says Lloyd. “This took repetition to the extreme. With supplier control we have reined this in and have taken a lot of time to clean up the data. Now we have 4,997 clean records on Proquis.” The flexibility of the system has allowed Anixter to configure this module to support its supply chain development program, and it is currently populating the system with further supplier data such as credentials, capabilities and certification.
A major boost to efficiency and productivity has been delivered by the allCLEAR process-mapping tool. This enables process maps to be formed using text alone, using punctuation to determine the box type. This is quicker and more efficient than drawing the boxes as required by other software. allCLEAR also provides the facility multi-layer processes that link to one another, allowing management systems to be truly integrated.
Proquis also has allowed the quality team to assign ownership to particular documents, which has provided additional timesavings by streamlining the way documents can be worked on and updated.
“Proquis provides us with the ability to engage other departments by allowing them to update documentation themselves. They no longer need to send everything back to quality management for amending. The system allows full traceability so all changes to documentation can be tracked to the originator of each and every amendment,” says Lloyd.
Fastening Future PlansSix months of use has provided Anixter with benefits that will maintain its drive on quality management and strengthened its competitive edge. After the remaining modules have been implemented, the system will be tempered further and will deliver more operational benefits. Work on implementing the personnel management module is well underway. This will give full visibility of all staff, including their location, department, reporting structure, skills and training information. With this useful view of the entire workforce Anixter will not only know the availability of certain employees, it will allow the company to identify key training needs to underpin its focus on quality.
“We have configured the system to e-mail addresses and locations for our vast global team of 18,000 people. Once fully configured, our training managers will be able to identify needs, establish training schemes and develop succession plans to enable us to maintain a position of strength in the world markets,” says Lloyd.