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Cross-Plant Connectivity: A Reality with an Enterprise Quality Hub

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Automotive manufacturers have long been pioneers when it comes to introducing new technologies, tools, and devices in their processes. As vehicles become more complex and are equipped with more bells and whistles, technology is playing a more important role than ever on the assembly line.

However, as auto manufacturers have expanded, acquired, merged, moved, opened, and closed facilities over the years, little standardization in the technologies is used from plant to plant. Some plants have accumulated a variety of new tools, some have held onto legacy systems, and others have a mixture of old and new equipment.

The problem lies in the fact that these systems and devices — from Statistical Process Control (SPC) software, to gauges and scales, to handheld computers — each collect their own sets of manufacturing data. The data then become housed in disparate systems, making it a challenge to bring them together to obtain visibility into operations within the plant, much less across the enterprise. This creates a chaotic situation when it comes to quality control, as manufacturers struggle to gather insight that could potentially pinpoint areas of improvement and enhance product quality.

Siloed systems also hinder the ability to conduct predictive analysis, which could prevent some of the recalls that cost companies millions of dollars every year. Add in the headaches from manually inputting data and lost productivity from dealing with redundant or duplicate information, and the quality chaos only gets worse.

What many auto manufacturers do not realize is that it is possible to achieve standardization across plants and the enterprise. And, fortunately, it does not require replacing expensive equipment or upgrading all hardware and software for every line and plant. In fact, these same, separate systems can stay in place. The only thing needed is an enterprise quality hub — the missing piece of the quality puzzle.

By deploying an enterprise quality hub, automotive manufacturers can achieve the seemingly unfeasible cross-plant and cross-enterprise connectivity. An enterprise quality hub, when powered by an SPC engine, acts as a centralized repository, accepting data from multiple sources, in various structures. The solution then outputs those data in a standardized format and makes it available to operators in real-time. By looking at a single set of data within the hub, plant floor workers can obtain the information needed to make on-the-fly process adjustments and predict (and correct) issues before they occur.

When deployed across the enterprise, a quality hub delivers even deeper insight or manufacturing intelligence. Quality professionals and even C-Level executives can use its advanced reporting capabilities to identify opportunities for ongoing quality improvement that ultimately cut costs. A cloud-based quality hub makes this even easier, offering users visibility into quality data from anywhere, via any device or browser.

In addition, the power of the cloud enables a hub to connect auto manufacturers with their suppliers across the globe. OEMs can monitor their Tier One and Tier Two suppliers’ processes in real time to ensure that components meet the highest quality standards — well before parts make it to the OEM’s receiving dock.

Whether in need of cross-plant, cross-enterprise, or even cross-supply chain visibility, an enterprise quality hub can connect existing systems and create a single data repository, allowing users to achieve a holistic view of quality to drive continuous improvements. As an added benefit, the hub offers the flexibility to quickly and easily integrate new technologies and tools as they come along, so the automotive manufacturer is always ready to pioneer the next big thing.

Martyn Gill is general manager – EMEA at InfinityQS International.