Many manufacturers have implemented quality assurance methodologies as a way to be consistent and improve manufacturing processes. For Hamilton Sundstrand, finding software that would help integrate its quality control program was important to the company for parts built in-house and those outsourced.

Hamilton Sundstrand, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (Windsor Locks, CT), is a global supplier of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products. Its aerospace division implemented a process improvement method called Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE), which is an integrated approach to quality improvement that sets up consistent and measurable goals. The method uses the Japanese 5S system, which sets goals for organization, orderliness, cleanliness, standardized cleanup and discipline, as well as total predictive maintenance on factory and office machines, root cause analysis in both product and process, and mistake-proofing causes of variation and process certification.

Process certification is the variability reduction arm of ACE, and is the area with which Hamilton Sundstrand was most concerned. Driving this move toward process certification was Boeing's D1- 9000 Advanced Quality System, which requires its suppliers to meet quality goals. The process certification approach focuses on the processes that result in products that meet and often exceed customer requirements. To implement this, Hamilton Sundstrand needed software that processed information in real time, and collected, analyzed and reported data. The company selected VisualSPC, a statistical process control software program developed by CimWorks, a GE Fanuc company (Kirkland, WA).

Gage connection capabilities and flexible setup were key reasons the software was selected. Hamilton Sundstrand connects gages to several applications throughout its Aerospace Division Manufacturing facilities and needed this flexibility.

With the software, process certification has been implemented internally, as well as externally at the company's suppliers. Outsourced components are required to follow the same quality standards as those produced on site.

"If you consider that we purchase 80% of our parts, you can see the significance of quality assurance at the supplier level," said Peter E. Teti, process certification manager for Hamilton Sundstrand. "When suppliers are able to demonstrate that they can meet Hamilton Sundstrand's pro-cess control and capability requirements, we can receive material from them without additional oversight."

The company has seen a reduction in scrap, rework and repair. Teti said that suppliers participating in a process control approach similar to process certification have achieved a 200 parts per million (ppm) defect rate as compared to an average of 15,000 ppm for non-participating suppliers.

The software is Windows-based and has data collection, analysis and reporting capabilities, as well as providing instant feedback about a process so operators can evaluate variation in measurement systems. Operators at Hamilton Sundstrand use the program to monitor and control key characteristics for new and existing products and processes.

"For quality engineers, VisualSPC provides preventive information for new processes and reactive information for existing, mature processes," said Teti. "For new processes, engineers can analyze what might be, and use the software as a prediction tool for creating new blueprint tolerances that are producible from day one, thus avoiding scrap, rework and repair activities."

The software tracks the outcome and determines the success of the process using advanced statistical analysis based on key characteristic an engineer has entered. Implementing the software has reduced lead times and scrap, rework and repair by 30%, and has help increase customer acceptance rates by 30%.

"The results speak for themselves," said Teti. "Process certification with VisualSPC has completely revolutionized the way that we reduce process and product variation, and it's this ability to make products better than blue print that gives us an unmatched edge over our competition."

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