Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more on this topic at a panel discussion on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, at the AIAG Quality Summit.
Automotive manufacturers are no strangers to continuously changing industry regulations. Time and time again, they must adapt or change their processes to meet new and often stringent requirements. Now, with new fuel efficiency requirements on the horizon, automotive manufacturers are under pressure to transform their processes once again.
By 2025, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that all new cars and trucks must meet the average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon. To meet this requirement, many manufacturers have started to incorporate lightweighting — the use of lighter components and advanced materials.
Unfortunately, lightweighting isn’t as simple as replacing a few materials on the assembly line. Rather, it creates a new set of manufacturing and quality challenges. Because manufacturers are using completely different or thinner, stronger grades of materials — for example, aluminum instead of steel, and carbon-filled composites or thermoplastic olefins — they must make an extra effort to ensure everything properly fits together to create a safe, high-quality final product. This means that they may have to alter their processes, production timeline, paints, adhesives, welding and more.
In addition to necessitating changes to manufacturing processes on the plant floor, lightweighting requires manufacturers to hone in on their supply chains, especially their suppliers’ operations. Without supplier visibility, automotive manufacturers are at risk for incorporating faulty components (regardless of whether or not they are new lightweight materials) into the final product. This can result in costly recalls and jeopardize consumer safety.
To help overcome lightweighting challenges and manage the introduction of new materials, automotive manufacturers realize that their manufacturing quality system needs to be more robust and more efficient. To address these improvement opportunities many manufacturers turn to technology — specifically, an enterprise quality hub. By leveraging a Statistical Process Control (SPC) engine, an enterprise quality hub could enable manufacturers to collect and aggregate data to deliver real-time quality insight or manufacturing intelligence about their critical processes and most significant product characteristics. When it comes to lightweighting, here are the top three areas in which an enterprise quality hub can help:
- Meeting inspections. An enterprise quality hub can help make sure the individual components and the completed product not only meet customer requirements, but also industry and safety standards. With SPC methodology, manufacturers can use acceptance sampling to verify that new methods meet various standards without expensive, destructive testing. Also, the hub can contribute to determining the overall equipment effectiveness of machinery, as manufacturers may have to reconfigure their robotics due to the new material. In addition, it is possible to integrate the software with scales, gauges, and other measurement equipment to make certain that the new materials and components have the right fit and finish.
- Supplier monitoring. Using cloud technology, an enterprise quality hub provides manufacturers visibility into their suppliers’ operations. The cloud deployment enables manufacturers to pull data from suppliers across the globe. The hub then standardizes the data in a centralized database from which users can gain a holistic view of supply chain quality. Therefore, the automotive manufacturer can verify that its suppliers are using the appropriate new material and correctly assembling it, before it reaches the plant and becomes part of the final product.
- Process and part oversight. The hub’s cloud-based technology also gives manufacturers insight into all processes and equipment from virtually any location via an Internet connection. They are no longer limited to monitoring quality within a single plant, and they can use any device and see real-time data. This insight can ensure consistency across operations, while identifying opportunities for continuous improvement based on best practices from a single location.
There will be a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the capabilities of several leading enterprise quality software solutions at the AIAG 2015 Quality Summit, September 22-23,2015 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan. A panel of solution providers will discuss the functional capabilities of their solutions as well as their organization’s project support models during the session on Wednesday, September 23. The session will be moderated by Dave Mimms, general manager, quality strategy management for Toyota Motor North America, and a long-time member of the AIAG Quality Steering Committee.
By using an enterprise quality hub, manufacturers can accelerate their automotive lightweighting efforts as they head toward 2025. By attending the AIAG 2015 Quality Summit, manufacturers can accelerate their evaluation of enterprise quality solutions and learn about the latest quality and engineering best practices that can be employed to support their lightweighting strategies.
Rick Sloop is director of international technical services for InfinityQS International, Inc. Sloop is responsible for the organization and development of the InfinityQS Technical Services department. Since joining the company in 2003, he has assisted hundreds of companies with their SPC implementation and guided clients through process control improvements.