CAQ-Software at Roth: Quality Plastics Molding
The range of products manufactured at Roth Industries GmbH is diverse. Pipes for heating and cooling systems, containers for water and oil, and complete sanitation systems belong to its repertoire, as do high-quality automobile parts made of plastics. The latter are manufactured by the independently operated company Roth Plastics Technology, not far from the home office in Dautphetal.
Mainly active in the automobile sector, the company, which belongs to the Roth Group, concentrates on the manufacture and assembly of die cast components for a wide range of diverse industries. Global players such as the British car maker Rover and the manufacturer of the “moving space-miracle” Smart trust in the competence of Roth Plastics Technology when it comes to interior components such as accent pieces, interior lining, air flow systems, and exhausts.
Quality and Security
Regardless of whether one is dealing with elements from the client-specified plan or independent developments relative to the demonstration of competence, Roth Plastics Technology guarantees the highest quality. “A certification complying with DIN EN ISO 9001 has of course been obtained,” explains Roth’s quality control manager, who self-assuredly continues, “Moreover, all of our processes are already tuned to the highly demanding and, particularly for us in the automobile industry, very important standard DIN ISO/TS 16949, so that we look forward to an painless recertification process scheduled for 2006.”
The company’s undaunted attitude toward recertification is based on its implementation of CAQ AG Factory Systems’ quality control software, which has been in use at the company since 1997. With his move from a quality control position at the holding company to the independent Roth Plastics Technology GmbH, quality control manager Pietschmann understood the necessity of introducing a “smart” quality control solution. “Here people were working with Access and Excel which were not only quite time consuming, but also at the same time imprecise. With the necessity of attaining future certifications and optimization of the process in the background, such procedures were unthinkable.”
Likewise unthinkable for Mr. Pietschmann was using systems offered by other providers. “CAQ AG was brought to my attention during my now completed education as Quality Assurance Professional at the GFQ Academy GmbH, which is today still a member of the professional organization “Quality Excellence.” In conjunction with this training I tested software solutions of several different providers and came to the simple conclusion that bigger, more expensive, or supposedly more comprehensive offers are not necessarily better.
The reason behind this quality expert’s confidence in “his” software is both the cost-performance ratio, which in terms of initial investment is one of the most important arguments for the upper management, as well as the flexibility and integrated expandability of the system.
What at one time began with the core system Compact.Net has been in time expanded and customized with several additional modules, and coordinated with the requirements of the company. Thus, Roth now has access to an expanding gauge management PMM.Net, knowledge-based Failure Mode Effect Analysis in Risk.Net, the Audit-, Checklist-, and Benchmarking Management QAM.Net, the customer complaint and service management REM.Net, preventative maintenance PMS.Net, as well as Connect.Net, the peripheral to the already existing ERP-Program R/3 from SAP. All these systems are integrated into a single centralized database and work with each other from day one.
“Through the expandability of the software we have opportunities for customization which are unknown in so-called “standard software,” explains Mr. Pietschmann, who in coordination with management is responsible for company investments. With such customizations in accordance with our own specifications and comparatively low costs in the background, the decision in favor of CAQ AG as a software partner was of course an easy one. But it was also important that all the different areas were able to work together like gears, and that works. Even to the point of the effortless integration of SAP.”
Integration with APQP
Since the end of 2005, Roth also implements the latest CAQ innovation: Process.Net. Behind these four letters lies concealed much more than just a commonly found project management system with a report generator. With this innovation comes the payoff that all of the already existing CAQ modules are integrated into a single database. Thus the new Process.Net module can access the data from all already implemented solutions and make use of previous work investments. In this way, for example, previously completed FMEA processes can be integrated into a new project with the push of a button. The same goes for family quality control plans, gauge capability testing, maintenance schedules, etc. Here, Mr. Pietschmann has to decide whether the current revision status should be updated in the background or whether a specific status should be referenced.
A primary advantage of integration is that the work results from the individual areas involved in a project are directly incorporated. Mr. Pietschmann reports, “Today it is no longer a problem if five minutes before the printing of project documentation the FMEA is re-integrated without the team leadership being aware of it. The results are directly there—naturally with the correct revision. In addition, we have configured the system so that the responsible coworkers are always automatically informed when something is changed.”
Integration par Excellence
With APQP.Net the last missing piece of the highly praised integrated management system was finally in place. Common operations instructions for quality, environment, and job safety had already been in use for a long time, as were system-wide analyses according to all standards, whether they be simple Pareto Analysis or running Balanced Scorecard Evaluations. FMEA, test planning, and customer complaint management could already exchange error and test data. Process.Net adds yet another peg at the beginning of the project and during the whole product life cycle, from the product origin to batch production. “It is especially pleasing to us that we have the freedom to define our own model projects,” explains quality control manager Pietschmann. “In this way we can tend to the most diverse requirements of our customers with little expense. While one customer demands an APQP documentation of at least 300 pages, another may want only the bare essentials. In some cases paper is only needed once all clearances are obtained, and sometimes one needs a project file at every step along the way.”
Integrated Automation Through All QM Processes
The flexibility and interchangeability, as well as the resulting opportunities for adjustment and the usability between modules, is based upon a uniform base library. In this way, for example, the errors which may come up in customer complaint management can be reported back to FMEA or inspection planning, or be made available for system-wide analysis, which, at Roth, has led to a clear workload reduction. Closely tied to this reduced scope of activities in the area of process engineering as well as a 50% reduction in customer complaints in 2004, Roth Plastics Technology GmbH was ultimately able to noticeably increase its yearly output. Being in such an excellent position, Roth employees got active for automotive suppliers who, by now, belong to their recurring customers and are among the leading companies in their trade area. In 2003 Roth produced, for the first time, a product for which a comprehensive system for quality control plays an important role.
Today, all these customers have to do is enter an order number and comprehensive performance specifications. Roth, in turn, is able to project an implementation of the specifications up to the final product manufactured on a production line. Instead of having to employ up to 5 people over a period of several weeks to conduct comprehensive research and evaluations, as was the case in the days of Access and Excel software, new quality software generates quality reports in the course of a single day and in an organized manner so that all data is easy to comprehend. No one at Roth is surprised that while the company produces 80 000 parts a month, in the last two years only one single rejection occurred.
Accordingly impressed with the efficiency and quality of Roth Plastics Technologys work, its broad customer base compensates Roth with continued patronage. For the field of quality assurance built up around specialist Fred Pietschmann, this means a constant increase in parts and therefore inspection plans, as well as procedural processes, which must be meticulously controlled before, during, and after the production process. Only the quality control department remains unchanged, thanks to the efficiency of the computer-based system for quality assurance, since quality control manager Pietschmann employs the CAQ AG software systematically. While only two people in the QM department are responsible for monitoring and controlling daily processes, the coworkers in production take upon themselves the job of collecting the corresponding data and transmitting it to the appropriate parties over the existing SQL- server system. In this way, for example, all processes of the daily organizational plan are tested, and the results are delivered via email to the appropriate decision makers.
Fred Pietschmann himself, however, mainly works on quality planning (APQP) and the related areas of environmental and risk management in order to strive toward new goals in manufacturing and quality. Correspondingly confident, he is also pursuing the self-set goal of, in addition to the intended 2006 recertification complying with the standard DIN ISO/TS 16949, to also attain ISO 14001 certification “while hes at it.” Both municipal and the Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV) requirements are already being met,” explains Pietschmann confidently. And if he still needs any support, then software partner CAQ AG is ready at any time to help out with both advice and action, including appropriate training if desired.