Dana Incorporated, headquartered in Maumee, Ohio, is a world leader in engineered solutions to improve the efficiency, performance, and sustainability of passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, and off-highway markets, as well as industrial and stationary equipment applications. Dana employs approximately 29,000 people in 34 countries on six continents. Dana reported 2016 sales of more than $5.8 billion.
Manufacturers and suppliers within the automotive industry are subject to rigorous standards addressing safety, reliability and durability, the environment, and manufacturing. Quality management standards specify the need to develop and implement a quality management system that focuses on continual improvement as well as preventing defects, variation, and waste. As a major supplier of automotive and vehicular components, Dana must adhere to these requirements internally as well as enforce these standards with its external supplier base of several thousand suppliers worldwide.
Dana employed a decentralized approach to quality management with its external supplier base. Individual business units worldwide had developed and implemented their own quality systems over time, based on either their specific customer requirements or the quality standards they were pursuing. Everyone used different systems for nonconformities, imposed varying requirements, and maintained their own data.
About 40 percent of the corporation relied on an automated solution that was 20+ years old and unsupported. The other 40 to 60 percent employed simple Excel™ spreadsheets, Word files attached to emails, and other online and offline systems to communicate nonconformity issues with Dana’s external supply base. So, data was both electronically generated and manually computed and input, opening the door to errors. Redundancy was a major problem, as were the wasted resources associated with each facility developing and operating its own system.
Because no interoperability existed between systems, there was no global data and no global visibility of suppliers. Absent the existence of supplier master profiles, a single supplier working with three different plants — a common situation — could be defined in three different ways. It was difficult, if not impossible, to share suppliers’ performance-related information throughout the company or address shortcomings in a meaningful way. Different rejection criteria, dissimilar corrective action formats, inconsistent problem-solving methodologies, and diverse systems among plants not only created problems within Dana but also was frustrating and time consuming for the company’s external suppliers.
Further, when a process change needed to be made globally, there was no means to roll it out to all the business units at the same time. Phased implementation translated to still more inconsistency in the supplier quality management program.
In addition to all these issues, the aging technology employed by two of four business units for nonconformity issues would be totally incompatible with newer Internet browsers in 2016. Dana’s Global Quality Systems team knew that timely action was required.
In 2012, Dana’s Purchasing Department had acquired a comprehensive suite of tools (LiveSource) for supply chain management. The suite included a Supplier Quality module, which delivers the transparency needed to implement corrective strategies globally. The solution, which enforces standardized processes and workflows, offers global data and visibility into supplier quality performance and instantly communicates conformity complaints and alerts to ensure quality adherence in compliance programs.
The fact that Dana’s purchasing department had previously created the supplier master profiles facilitated Dana’s accelerated timeline for implementation. “We really had to move quickly to meet our July 1, 2016 launch date,” says Gregg Alling, senior manager of Quality Systems. “We designed the workflow, the process, and how we wanted the system to function. We did trials with some of our plants and got everything finalized internally.” Alling says that the development phase took less than a year.
“All in all, the implementation went as smoothly as an effort on this scale could go,” he continues. “Remember, we were concurrently changing all of the systems that thousands of external suppliers used as well as the way 100 Dana plants generated corrective action requests. System flexibility was needed to help us configure things the way we and our suppliers wanted them to work.”
With a more efficient, consistent approach for managing corrective action, supplier assessment, auditing and so forth, Alling says the company spends less time and fewer resources on nonconformity issues and eliminated much of the redundancy.
A centralized master data structure makes sure every supplier-related input relates back to a single master profile that identifies a specific address, code, key contact people, and other important data elements. “We can see all the supplier quality issues that are happening anywhere in the world,” he explains. “And, we can look at a particular supplier and see all the different quality issues it might have at different plants. We can see a supplier’s certifications, audit results, scores, evaluations, and rejections in one system and can export data and conduct additional analyses.”
Global process changes are much easier now. Says Alling, “If there is a change in requirements or a need to update how we deal with our external supply base, we can make the change right away. Everyone receives the update at the same time. There’s no slow rollout or inconsistencies for extended periods of time.”
Dana is currently in the process of transitioning quality system requirements for the new version of ISO 9001 and the new IATF 16949 quality standards. The IATF is even more rigorous than its predecessor in terms of the quality standards for the external supplier base, according to Alling. The new system is helping to ease the transition.
“Our nonconformity system is just the start of our quality-related efforts,” says Alling. “We are currently developing our online supplier PPAP solution and that process is moving along well. We hope to deploy it with our external supply base by the end of 2017. Soon after, we’ll develop our APQP system for online advanced product quality planning. ”