The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) held its 2018 Quality Summit September 18 and 19 in Novi, Michigan. The event is held to share supplier and OEM perspectives on improving quality management standards and tools developed to monitor and ensure industry quality and product safety. This year’s theme was “Tools to Sustain your Automotive QMS.” Rich Nave and I attended this year.
This annual event is an ongoing part of AIAG delivering on their mission of bringing experts together to work on processes and standards globally. For The Luminous Group and our clients, a key component of AIAG activities is Quality Management System requirements (IATF 16949) Core Tools, and CQI guidelines, especially: APQP, FMEA, Layered Process Audits (LPA) and Problem Solving.
Core Tools matter more than in the past because the supply chain has become global and, the more diverse the suppliers are, the more important that they all adopt tools and processes that contribute to everybody’s bottom line: measurable operational excellence throughout the supply chain.
The Summit this year included important announcements – and one ‘non-announcement’ (the highly anticipated AIAG-VDA FMEA Handbook). In addition, our conversations with many of the services exhibitors were similarly important. Taken together, they were about updates to standards and the tools (methods and software solutions) that the industry employs:
- A new set of IATF documents was announced. These included a set of best practices and Frequently-Asked Questions.
- A revised Effective Problem-Solving guideline (CQI-20) was announced and made available at the Summit (and now via the AIAG website)
- The long-anticipated AIAG VDA FMEA Handbook (which was to be released after the September IATF 16949 Transition deadline) — was NOT announced and the planned update presentation session was cancelled. The handbook has not yet been accepted by the key OEMs and Suppliers… but might be released (or the committee will provide an update). If it is released by AIAG, it promises to change the way many companies develop their Design and Process FMEAs. I’m glad to share my ‘’Good Bad and the Ugly” high-level observations regarding the new handbook if you’d like a copy.
A majority of the exhibitor conversations were about software tools designed to facilitate the deployment of quality standards and Core Tools. There are now some great software solutions for APQP, FMEA, Problem Solving, IATF QMS plant scorecards and Layered Process Audits.
I believe the new IATF 16949:2016 standards, Core Tools as well as the new software solutions, are good steps forward. However, I think these prescribed disciplines come with a good deal of risk for the industry if they are not managed with the big picture and bottom line in mind.
While the evolution of standards makes sense, suppliers need those standards to impact more than just quality –they need to be understood and then embraced by leaders and functions beyond the ‘Quality’ department. The implementation of any standard is difficult to defend if it is only important at the practitioner level. Standards must be important at the executive level and need to impact long-term goals that contribute to operational excellence.
Similarly, software is most effective when it is accompanied by processes that make sense and training that ensures better than “garbage in / garbage out” results. Without a solid methodology and understanding of the “whys” and “hows,” software alone will not contribute to any improvement; some things cannot be completely automated. For a practitioner functioning without the right organizational support and senior leadership, software that encourages “checking the box” without a long-term understanding, fails to drive the desired impact.
Let’s get this message to higher-level managers and leaders at your company for the good of the Automotive industry.