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In the Beginning There Was an Idea – Continuity with APQP from A through Z

Article in Journal QZ 4/2008 - End-quality is defined at the outset during product development and hence, the cycle time of product innovation. However, as the cycle time of products gets shorter, quality demands as well as cost reduction pressures increase steadily. CAQ AG Factory Systems offers a solution whereby product assembly processes are optimized with the help of software.

The automotive industry demands a permanent increase of the product enhancement process (PEP) efficiency, which concomitantly requires continuous optimization of development phases as well as manufacturing processes. In this day and age Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) makes this type of performance possible. In order to guarantee meeting customer demands and standards requirements, APQP defines and displays all steps within a production process. Nearly all areas of process development, adapted to fit the specific demands of a particular production process, can refer back to this methodology to create its company specific product enhancement process.

PEP describes the workflow starting with the initial concept for a new product up to its production and implementation. In the course of the product lifecycle various stages of maturation and milestones are traversed. APQP offers numerous functions, embedded in a QM system compliant with ISO 9001 or TS 16949, which optimize the recurring product enhancement process:

  • Design and Process FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) for a systematic approach to identifying potential construction and process risks
  • Inspection plan (Control Plan), including control procedures of parts and processes with descriptions of specifications, materials, and function tests for prototypes, pilot-run series, and serial parts
  • Flowcharts of manufacturing processes in the form of graphic displays of planned operations
  • Job instructions with detailed descriptions of inspections and tasks that must be done by employees

Figure 1: CAQ Software Displaying Product Enhancement Process

A CAQ software system can depict all company processes and corresponding project tracing starting with planning a company-specific PEP, to tracing specific project operations, and finally to its automatic documentation.

Software Supported Product and Process Development

This makes it possible to initiate an appropriate FMEA at the onset of a project and to incorporate the results into further steps of inspection planning and process planning (Control Plan). Even if, at the end of the PEP, an initial sample inspection is necessary, the basis for this procedure is already at hand as well as for necessary measurement readings or as proof for process capability.

Roth Kunststofftechnik GmbH, mainly active in the automotive sector, has high expectations for its product and process development software. By choosing CAQ AG Factory Systems software the company received a CAQ system which is able to display comprehensively the demands of customers as well as those of TS 16949 within the framework of product and process development. At Roth, employees can provide their customers, at any time and with the click of a mouse, a complete project status report, including FMEA, inspection plan, capability proof, and initial sample inspection. Roth expanded its initial software package to include a central procedure and escalation management to automatically control target dates, tasks, and procedures accompanying projects. The software system provides responsible parties with comprehensive To-Do lists which they can directly edit and update with up-to-date information on project progress. Furthermore processing time of projects can be reduced, because, within the software system, an auto-adaptive knowledge database can be accessed when creating necessary contents.

The specialists for galvanized surface refinement at Fischer GmbH also hit the professional jackpot when they chose CAQ AG Factory Systems software system. Fischer GmbH was looking for a software provider who could offer a modular system that would allow a company to acquire exactly what it needs, no more, no less. In order to minimize costs and optimal usage of existing resources this modular software system was to be acquired in increments. The eventual goal was to have it grow into a comprehensive custom quality management system. Software support for the CAQ system within the framework of product enhancement process was important, as was support that covered the entire production process. Other criteria, such as simple, standard compliant integration into the existing ERP system, as well as simple integration of all existing measuring system all supported a choice for CAQ AG Factory System software for the company.

Figure 2: QDrive.Net – Central Quality Control with Custom Workflow Control

With Federal Mogul, a company active worldwide, a main focus was worldwide access to the software. All quality data of the company manufacturing automotive engine, and located in Nuremburg, would soon also be available to its headquarters in the US. Again, it is a considerable advantage to be able to customize the CAQ AG Factory Systems software, so that all data available via the QM intranet can be displayed in different languages, depending on the need.

Transparency for the Production Process

A CAQ software system supports the entire production flow, because it covers all areas of production, as well as the simple integration and connection of peripheral systems or existing monitoring and control mechanisms. A software supported production enhancement process can not only significantly reduce time spent on processing but also optimize internal processes with its inherent transparency. This guarantees efficient use of available resources.

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