People who bring optimism and a can-do attitude can take situations that most people think of as hassles or “red tape” and turn them into positives. It’s how Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers can turn the IATF 16949:2016 compliance requirement for statistical process control (SPC) from an overhead cost into an opportunity—from a resource drain into a net benefit.

Many suppliers view the standard as a checkbox compliance issue—a necessary hoop they must jump through to continue doing business with their customers. From that perspective, the goal is often to have the minimum required business process necessary to satisfy an auditor. Those business processes would be implemented by forms, forms, and more forms—as manual processes. Because manual processes are cheap, right? And paper forms are easy, right? Wrong!

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About ISO/TS 16949

ISO/TS 16949 is an International Automotive Task Force technical specification for automotive sector quality management systems that has become one of the most widely used international standards in the automotive industry, merging the disparate assessment and certification systems in the global automotive supply chain.

On October 3, 2016, IATF 16949:2016 was published, re-defining the requirements of a quality management system for organizations in the automotive industry.

Don’t Settle for the Minimum

“Satisfying an auditor” often takes the form of a study in manual capability. This means that for each process and each characteristic on each manufactured part, someone must assemble the data, load it into a spreadsheet, and derive a measure of process capability. This report is then archived and, if required, sent to the client.

InfinityQS polled Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers on LinkedIn, asking how they would satisfy the SPC requirements of IATF 1649:2016. The results were eye-opening:

  • 56% would perform a capability study in Excel
  • 12% would run SPC software each week/month/quarter
  • 29% would use a real-time SPC software tool
  • 3% would ignore the SPC requirements

Although it was a popular answer, the spreadsheet solution is a laborious process, particularly when large numbers of parts, characteristics, or processes are involved. The time required to prepare these reports is “dead time” during which no productive work can happen. It’s a cost to the manufacturer, pure and simple.

When you add up the cost of dead time for tracking the process data of each part, the “free” solutions of forms and spreadsheets actually cost a lot. Over half of respondents are wasting time and effort by manually collecting and analyzing the required data. Worse still, these rudimentary systems don’t allow the manufacturer to glean any real, useful insights from the data that can help improve quality, minimize scrap, or reduce the need for rework.

Instead of subsisting on the minimum, modern manufacturers implement real-time SPC software platform. Capable SPC platforms like Enact®, a cloud-native solution from InfinityQS, can ensure that manufacturers stay within IATF compliance while delivering the additional benefits of identifying best practices and driving process improvements.

Enacting Role-Based Information and Analysis

Enact, the Quality Intelligence platform from InfinityQS, is designed to help manufacturers collect all their SPC data and quality-related metrics in real time. As a modern data platform, Enact collects data no matter how or where it is generated, stores it in a centralized data repository, and provides a single version of the truth. Whether your data comes from manual tests by operators, batch operations via CMM, or from unattended in-process devices or sensors, Enact collects it in real time, into a single, standardized, centralized database.

With a modern SPC platform like Enact, users can perform and view real-time data analyses metrics, without waiting for reports. Unlike manual processes, different user groups and individual users can see the analysis that matters to them, based on physical scope (location, groups of parts, or processes) and time (short, medium, or long term).

If your current system doesn’t enable users to ask relevant data analysis questions and get the answers they need instantly, then it’s biting into your bottom line. Enact presents analysis as aggregated, or “rolled up” data, letting users easily find out useful information like which shift has the biggest process variation. It can then extrapolate this out to a specific process line, machine, production plant, or even country. Armed with this information, users can then “drill down” to find root causes.

Fast and Inexpensive Implementation

One the biggest misconceptions that prevents manufacturers from moving from manual processes to a modern SPC platform is concern over the time and costs for implementation. However, a modern cloud-based solution like Enact is accessed through a web browser, so it doesn’t rely on local servers or desktop application software. This means that you can start efficiently collecting process data with minimal (or no) work from your IT team.

Concerns over pricing can be dismissed thanks to easy subscription-based billing that is based on monthly usage. This helps keep initial costs low while users learn the system and maximize its capability for their production environment. With small project teams, a new Enact implementation can be up and running within weeks. How many Excel spreadsheets will you manually update in the time it would take you to never have to do that again?

Manufacturers who implement a modern SPC platform as part of their overall digital transformation are investing in their future. In addition to reducing waste and improving processes, platform like Enact can also help you secure new business. It’s becoming more common for new OEM contracts to specifically require suppliers to provide remote, real-time access to capability information for auditors. If your company currently does the minimum necessary to satisfy IATF requirements, it isn’t possible to supply this information. But with Enact, this data is available within just a few clicks.

If you’re ready to unlock the potential of your data, it’s time to accelerate your digital transformation and move quality management to the cloud. Learn how InfinityQS solutions provide enterprise visibility, improve collaboration, reduce costs, and simplify compliance.