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AIAG Core Tool Software (CTS) Project Status

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The AIAG Core Tool Software (CTS) Project is making great progress with the help of several dedicated volunteers. The project team is focused on improving the former XLS based Core Tools Software Disc with an “Excel like” front end supported by a robust database backend.

During the last meeting, one of the volunteers said, “We need to write down how CTS is going to be better than XLS.” Here are some of the notes from the meeting.



Intuitive Nature

One of the issues with using Excel primarily for the PPAP process and associated forms is training. Many people lack strong computer skills and using Excel requires more than simple computer literacy. The CTS application will markedly lessen the training required as compared to Excel.

Flexibility / Customizable

The design strategy was based on “I like XLS; I like the flexibility and ability to customize. Do not force me to do things. When in doubt, a human decides, not the software. Do not automatically update anything!”

XLS Like Screen Layouts

The CTS provides similar XLS like capability including:

-          Edit data XLS line grid

-          Ability to Insert Columns and Rows

-          Ability to move Columns + Hide/Reveal

-          Ability to customize Column headings

-          Ability to store personal setup (related to single user)

-          Allow for read-only columns

-          Allow for formula columns

-          Allow for sorting by multiple columns

-          Ability to search/filter each column

-          Export to XLS (where applicable)

-          Export to PDF (where applicable)

PPAP Submission Process

The CTS allows a very flexible PPAP Submission process, including multiple partial submission, full submissions, and re-submissions. These activities are tracked in the CTS communication log. The PPAP Project status includes: Pending, Interim, Approved, and Rejected.

System Search

The ability to search both database and attachments, for example, show me “bracket” – a feature that is impossible when using multiple standalone XLS sheets.

New AIAG-VDA FMEA and Old FMEA Manual Support

The CTS includes both the new and the old AIAG-VDA FMEA content. You will have the option to use both the old and new formats.

Communication Log

Emails can be sent from the CTS (using your email address) and a log is kept of who you sent it to and what you sent. This enables all employees to see what has been done and eliminates the time required to find out what has been done by you and other team members.

CTS View - Linkages Between Forms

Linkage between the DFMEA, Process Flow, PFMEA, and Control Plan is enforced by a relational database that makes it easier to make sure that everything is tied together. The CTS view decides what information in the database is displayed in what “forms” – by row and by column.

CTS View Templates

A CTS View template is intended to be able to configure and store and reuse a CTS View (e.g. OLD versus NEW FMEA views, this Customer view versus that Customer view, etc.) The CTS View template allows the configuration of almost any form, for example Dimensional Control Plans (DCP).

International, Multi-Lingual

Recognizing the global automotive supply chain, several languages will be supported in the application. The initial launch is English. The User profile defines the preferred language.

Lookup Tables

To assure consistency across projects, the following look-up tables are used:

-           DFMEA Severity (old and New VDA)

-           DFMEA Occurrence (old and New VDA)

-           DFMEA Detection (old and New VDA)

-           PFMEA Severity (old and New VDA)

-           PFMEA Occurrence (old and New VDA)

-           PFMEA Detection (old and New VDA)

-           Reason for Submission

-           Tools / Gage Types

-           Feature Type

-           Defect Codes

-           Cause Codes

-           Project Type

-           Project Status

-           Project Priority

-           Reason for Submission

-           Potential Failure Modes Text

-           Potential Effects of Failure Modes Text

-           Potential Cause of Failure Text

-           Current Process Controls Prevention

-           Current Process Controls Detection

-           Control Methods

-           Tools / Gage Types

-           Sample Size

-           Frequency


The CTS app has a meeting management process that can be tied to projects or just stand-alone meetings.  It can include:

-          Agenda, Old Business, New Business etc.

-          Meeting Notices

-          Meeting Minutes and Tasks Assignments

-          Recurring Meetings Scheduling

Multiple Locations

If your company has multiple locations, the CTS allows multiple locations to be managed in a single license. Security can limit access to locations data to only people from that location, if desired.


CTS is based on concurrent users, not named users like most SaaS offerings. For example, this means that you can have 30 users, but if you purchased a 5 concurrent user license, then any 5 of the 30 can be in the CTS at the same time. User log out time is configured by SYSADMIN – no activity will shut down a user after a specified amount of time.

Part Number File

Part Number detail includes:

-          Part Characteristics

-          Process Characteristics

-          Operations – multiple allowed – this provides the ability to manage multiple processes, like the old equipment, the new equipment, and the location in Cleveland, etc.

-          BOM – multiple allowed – to provide the ability to support scenarios like “sometime the Supplier sends 3 parts and we assemble and sometimes we buy an assembly from the Supplier”

-          BOM Viewing – this is a smart BOM configuration, meaning, anytime you are working with a BOM, if there are related part numbers, you will see a (+) plus sign expand / collapse capability – this includes viewing BOM attachments on a Project Screen

-          Customers we sell this part to

-          Suppliers we buy this part from

There is a direct link to Projects on the Part Number screen.

Part Revision History

A Part Revision History is maintained, with a flexible Revision Level formatting. This eliminates the need for the old “Part History” form.

Project Gantt Chart

CTS includes a simple Gantt chart, without all the hassles of a MS Project like tool, and more flexibility. This allows for tasks to be related to the Gantt Chart and have a start and end date attributed to them, then show as graphical representations on the chart. If a task has just an end date, it will be show on the Gantt chart as a milestone.

The task dates can be changed by dragging the start or end of the task bar on the Gantt chart. Tasks can also be sorted by Start Date or End Date, and the Gantt chart will be refreshed for a quick view of the sort made.

Project Library

There are libraries that can be set up to re-use common information from DFMEA, PF, PFMEA, Control Plan and Gage R&R studies.

Project Management

Project Management is where APQP or PPAP projects are created. This is where “forms” are created and managed, using the CTS View. There is complete flexibility on how Projects are created regarding what Part Number, Operations, and BOM are used. Multiple Projects can be open at the same time, on the same Part Number and Part Revision level, or the same Part Number with different Part Revision Level, to allow complete flexibility to handle multiple customer/supplier submissions at the same time based on what Part Revision manufacturing is currently producing. This can also handle the issue across multiple plant locations for internal projects.   

A Project is defined by the following:

-          Part Number / Name and revision level

-          Which Customer to be sent to, or Employee if Internal, or Supplier if coming from a Supplier – this project is based on only one of these options

-          Start and End Date

-          Status

Project Revision History is maintained.


Reporting is provided to make it easier for companies to manage the process, including: App usage report, Customer list, Employee list, Meetings, My To Do List  (i.e. what tasks are assigned to me), Part List, Projects, Reference tables, and Supplier List.

Reporting – Analytics

The CTS app provides analytics reporting that is not possible in standalone XLS files, including things like:

-          How many active projects are there and how are they doing?

-          What are the Top 10 issues I need to know about?

-          Cause and Failures trends

-          Risk Rate – average RPN and new High, Medium, Low measures over time

-          And more….

Robust Security of Proprietary Data

As a cloud-based application, there is robust security that assures no one can access the company’s information without permission. The CTS app and hosting platform (MZ Azure) have undergone robust security testing by an independent 3rd Party.

Task Templates

A task template is reusable task list – for example, the 18 PPAP items, customer specific tasks, and more.

Task Tracker

CTS includes a simple task management process with flexibility to customize the task list. A simple timeline with assignments and due dates is available. By design, this is NOT a MS Project like tool – you are not forced to do anything to use the Task Tracker. Task Management includes “sub-tasks” with (+) plus sign expand / collapse capability. A new Project can be created by combining multiple task templates, as needed for this new Project.

Version Control

 Version control is maintained on both the Part and Project Level and Attachments.

The application originally targeted small automotive suppliers, however, several larger companies have expressed interest in the CTS, as a more powerful and flexible document authoring tool, to work together with larger ERP/PLM/QMS enterprise software tools.

For more information and further updates, plan on attending the AIAG Quality Summit Sept 18-19. The CTS Project Team will be presenting on the CTS Project Status, hosting a luncheon roundtable, and will have a booth to meet with interested parties and show demos of the application.

John M. Cachat is the AIAG Project Manager and can be contacted at jcachat@aiag.org.



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