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Mark Whitworth


From Automotive to Aerospace

Key cross-industry lessons in quality management

Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:44

Quality is, for every organization and across all industries, a key competitive differentiator. This is especially true in the highly competitive automotive industry, where cost pressures have pushed automakers and their suppliers toward global sourcing and distributed supply-chain operations.

Quality management ensures that products or services are consistent and conform to approved standards across key areas such as planning, control, assurance, and improvement. It not only monitors product and service quality, but also assesses and examines the associated processes. In the automotive industry, compliance and regulations have been increasing. Add to that the pressures of the digital era, where social media and viral communications leave little room for errors or missteps in quality. These factors result in an increasing demand for flexible, upgraded management systems, systems that automate field-level quality management tasks and provide real-time monitoring and transparency.

So when it comes to quality management, what are some of the key learnings and benefits we can take away from the automotive industry?

Automating for fewer errors, better margins. Quality management in the automotive industry includes helping manufacturing companies automate their internal quality control processes. This gives them the ability to error-proof their operations to save time and headcount, which provide customers with high-quality products that don’t sacrifice margins.

A reduction in recalls. The use of a quality audit software system helps ensure compliance with ISO/TS 16949 and other regulations, allowing automotive manufacturers to shift from isolated compliance initiatives to integrated, enterprisewide governance. This minimizes the risks and impacts of recall batches and enhances supplier quality performance.

A competitive edge. Especially in the automotive industry, quality management system software can drive companies ahead of the competition. With appropriate solutions, a quality audit software system accelerates product development and time-to-market by obtaining real-time access into the quality management process and all of its important metrics. Moreover, by developing operational efficiency in quality systems, companies can reduce internal and other costs associated with production down times and warranty issues. Ultimately, the right tool can enhance brand image and create a loyal customer base, because potential quality issues have been detected and addressed in a predictable and timely manner. Quality management as a competitive advantage is attainable with the right culture, system, and technology.

Understanding the influence of the automotive industry on aerospace quality management

As with automotive markets, safety and reliability of products are paramount in the aerospace industry. Manufacturing companies rely on the industry expertise of robust quality audit software tools to ensure that their quality management systems produce safe and cost-effective products and services.

The aerospace industry is quite specific about the quality process and its requirements. Due to the continuous need for process innovations and enhanced performance, the aerospace industry has adopted well-established ideas, practices, and quality audit software solutions from the automotive industry to drive future progress. In a way, aerospace uses the automotive industry’s approach as a benchmark, then tailors it to its specific needs.

This cross-industry convergence is evident in many cases today. For example:
• Root cause analysis diagrams, such as the fishbone diagram, are currently a true cross-industry standard.
• Airbus uses the standard “8D analysis” to investigate causes and create follow-up action plans for quality incidents. In fact, the differences between standard automotive 8D and aerospace 8D are very few and insignificant.

Moving forward, we continue to come across numerous examples where companies use successful quality management solutions from automotive manufacturers. Specifically, in 2015, Airbus Helicopters decided to deploy the automotive quality claims management solution that was directly linked to its enterprise resource planning. The objective was to collaborate with suppliers on the same portal as the one used to receive purchase orders.

Companies in both industries should employ the appropriate assessment software to meet their increasingly complex demand and keep their high quality standards, while at the same time lowering their costs. Only with continuous improvement, transparency, and operational excellence can the manufacturers meet their objectives.


About The Author

Mark Whitworth’s picture

Mark Whitworth

With nearly 25 years of management, technology, and entrepreneurial experience, Mark Whitworth specializes in architecting global, cloud-based software platforms and developing partnerships to help clients enhance performance, control and flexibility throughout the production and process life cycle. He is extensively familiar with operational improvement frameworks—having run a successful management consulting firm catering to Fortune 500 clients, including Toyota and Johnson & Johnson—and has worked with regulatory bodies in the audit and assessment space for more than two decades. As chief operations officer at Ease Inc., Whitworth provides the leadership, management, and vision to ensure stable company growth and dependable, high-quality customer support.