Replaces Kamishibai with Beacon Quality to Improve Layered Process Audit Completion and Corrective Action Rates
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A global automotive supplier looking to improve visibility into quality decided to replace its manual paper-based audit system with Beacon Quality software. Six months after implementation, the organization has increased audit completion rates more than 40% and created more accountability around corrective actions.
The company had conducted paper-based layered process audits (LPAs) for many years. In 2012, they launched a visual management process called Kamishibai—Japanese for “paper drama”—to structure audits using cards randomly selected from two decks. Jacobs Vehicle Systems is a leading manufacturer of advanced engine braking systems and valve activation technologies, with manufacturing locations in North America, Europe and Asia.
The team would choose a card from the first deck to determine the audit location. The card selected from the second deck indicated the process to audit, showing acceptable results on one side (colored green) and non-compliant results on the opposite side (colored red). Auditors would post results on a dry erase board, then log them in spreadsheets.
While the Kamishibai system helped bring to light important quality issues, it created difficulties around scheduling, corrective action and communicating results.
“Scheduling wasn’t really random, and following up on findings was next to impossible,” says John Rose, Quality Systems Manager. “It was clear that some areas hardly ever got audited, and some questions were seldom or never selected to be audited.”
Communicating findings was also ineffective, requiring a lot of manual follow-up to try to help people understand quality issues.
Rose suggested to management that the organization could benefit from a new, more efficient way to conduct LPAs and other audits. For better results, he stated they need to be able to ask more questions in each audit, randomize scheduling and improve reporting to fix problems faster.
After seeing the problems with the Kamishibai system, Rose suggested the team look at the Beacon Quality mobile audit platform, which he’d used in a previous quality role. Jacobs opted for a free trial of Beacon Quality, which Rose said was eye-opening for the company.
“The dynamic nature of the software and ease of use were instrumental in convincing management to move forward,” he said. “Adding and updating audit questions in Beacon Quality is dramatically easier and faster compared to our previous Kamishibai process.”
The organization found the cloud-based web application particularly appealing, allowing team members to complete audits electronically with real-time reporting.
In 2018, Jacobs launched Beacon Quality in its Bloomfield plant. During the process, Rose was impressed at how the implementation team truly understood his company’s organizational structure and goals, providing suggestions to get the most from the platform.
“The training and tech support was unsurpassed,” said Rose. “The Beacon Quality team clearly listens to the voice of the customer, and we’ve benefitted from the frequent software updates.”
Results of implementing Beacon Quality include a more than 40% increase in audit completion rates, as well as improved accountability around addressing audit findings. Scheduling across different locations is also evenly distributed, minimizing audit gaps that allow process risks to grow unnoticed.
According to Rose, the ability to easily update and add questions is a major time-saver.
“With the paper cards, we’d have to go to the spreadsheet, type in the words, take a picture and scan it, print it and laminate it,” he says. Maintaining the card decks was cumbersome, and the process didn’t make it easy to clarify confusing questions. He says the team unanimously agrees that Beacon Quality is far easier to use and makes auditing much more efficient.
Today, Rose can change questions and monitor results, remove questions that always pass and add new questions for process changes or complaints. “Many of our questions also help us prepare for third-party audits,” he says.
Every week, Rose gives a performance update during his plant’s daily staff meeting, and he’s able to quickly pull audit completion results and Pareto charts of top issues. Part of that weekly meeting includes holding people accountable for corrective actions. Rose says there’s much more visibility around overdue open actions, helping him spot bottlenecks in the process.
On a larger scale, the new audit process is helping Rose and his team drive cultural change. More dialogue is happening around proposed solutions, with team members discussing which fixes will be most effective.
“We’re getting to where most of our organization is comfortable doing audits,” Rose says. “Management is also getting comfortable looking at what the reports are telling us, and what our long-term, systemwide corrective actions need to be.”
“It’s not to call them to the table, but it’s to say, ‘Hey, what’s the holdup? Did you just have too much to do last week, or is it because this finding needs a very long corrective action?’” he says. “It’s having those open conversations that weren’t really happening before.”
After piloting the software at its Bloomfield location, the team decided to deploy Beacon Quality in two more global plants. Jacobs rolled out Beacon Quality to its China site, and its Czech Republic site is getting ready to go live. The team has also expanded the use of Beacon Quality from LPAs to include safety and 5S audits.
In monthly management meetings, leadership can now easily review top-level metrics for all locations. Rose highlights the ability to spot trends across the plant and even across global sites as a key factor in communicating lessons learned for continuous improvement.
Founded in 1986, Ease, Inc. is the leading provider of layered process audit (LPA) software, Beacon Quality, as well as other process performance solutions for automotive and aerospace manufacturing.
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