Automotive OEMs work in a fast-paced marketplace where quality, safety, regulatory and business standards are increasingly stringent. Automotive parts supplier, Del-Met (Nashville) was faced with the daunting task of establishing a new method for managing important documentation to meet these standards while continuing with production.

Key components of the QS-9000 Quality System Requirements, that suppliers such as Del-Met must meet, are the advanced product quality planning process (APQP) and its product part approval process (PPAP). The automotive industry has to create millions of documents per year that must be controlled and complied with to meet QS-9000 requirements.

Del-Met tracked changes and PPAPs but found this process to be time consuming, and errors occurred frequently because of manual data entry. After looking at several companies, Del-Met chose Powerway (Indianapolis) software as the best fit for company needs.

"We needed to make the information available to the right people so we could alleviate the hassle of manually entering all of our parts' information," said Brian Burke, information systems manager for Del-Met.

According to Burke, the software has many added capabilities. "It's hard to put a dollar amount on what the solution does for us, but it plays a big role in getting our product to market in a timely manner," he said.

The software provides a central location for PPAPs and other important documentation, and an employee can copy what is relevant from one document to the next without having to re-enter the same information with each new project.

With the quality planning, document control and gage management software, documents are more accurately prepared and errors because manual entry has been reduced, said Burke. Del-Met was also able to integrate existing databases from Lotus Notes in the software. Burke said that this would eventually eliminate the need to use Notes, because the software consolidates the data in one location.

It took 3 weeks to integrate the software into the manufacturing process. "Since February 2000, approximately 200 projects are housed in the Quality Planner module," said Burke. "Within the next couple of months, it will track all new projects."

With the automotive industry requiring detailed documentation on every part used to assemble a vehicle, the software has made it easier for Del-Met to track documentation for all of its new projects.