CAQ-Software at Klein: Quality Assurance in the Automotive Sector
In order to consolidate the various requirements for companies operating in the automotive sector, the IATF (International Automotive Task Force) together with the technical committee of the ISO developed the ISO/TS 16949. This guideline first appeared in 1999. As supplier to the automotive industry, the company Klein Kunststofftechnik GmbH from the German town of Dettenheim is also certified according to this standard. In order to successfully fulfil all framework conditions, it implemented the CAQ.Net management system by CAQ AG Factory Systems in the year 2007.
The software, which was introduced in record time, provides Klein Kunststofftechnik with a comprehensive quality assurance system that seamlessly merges with the existing ERP and Arburg ALS systems and also boasts a powerful QDX-interface.
A Variety of Standards
Founded in 1965, Klein Kunststofftechnik GmbH today produces injection moulded parts weighing up to 500 grams on Arburg machines with a closing force of 20 to 250 KN. In 1996, the almost obligatory ISO 9001 quality management standard was implemented and has been practiced actively in the company ever since. However, already back then the largest group of customers were based in the automotive sector and demanded that their suppliers practice a variety of further quality management techniques as well.
That is why in the year 2000 Klein Kunststofftechnik applied for and achieved QS 9000 certification – the predecessor standard of ISO/TS 16949. They then followed up with the ISO/TS 16949 in 2003. This standard, structurally based on the ISO 9001, harmonizes the individual regulations of the various international automobile organizations. It is used by approximately 30 percent of all international carmakers, including all major German carmakers. In order to also be able to communicate its clean record with regard to the environment, the DIN EN ISO 14001 certification was achieved in 2007.
Quality Assurance for the Automotive Sector
The variety of management systems that are implemented by Klein Kunststofftechnik prove that this is a company that knows a thing or two about the worlds of quality and standards. Due to the relevance of the automotive sector and ISO/TS 16949, the company therefore realized early on that it could not master the requirements of these areas with MS Excel or pen and paper alone. That is why in 2006 Klein Kunststofftechnik embarked on an exhaustive search for a suitable software solution that would assist them in consolidating their systems and optimizing their processes even further. Their market research led them to CAQ AG Factory Systems, as their portfolio provided everything that is required for sophisticated quality management in the automotive and plastics industries. It also allowed the step-by-step expansion of the quality management software by adding further models at a later point in time. From control plans, SPC, inspection planning, batch tracking and initial sample reports to gauge and risk management tools: today Klein Kunststofftechnik manages all quality management related aspects with just one system.
ISO/TS 16949 and QS 9000
If one takes a closer look at the ISO/TS 16949, one soon realizes that it basically resembles an “ISO 9001 Plus”. The general quality management standard ISO 9001 was effectively tightened by the IATF and supplemented with a variety of tools.
With APQP, SPC, control plan, FMEA, MSA, and PPAP, tools were adopted from the QS 9000 that placed a greater focus on customer specific requirements. By concentrating on the continuous improvement process, the standard also more strongly emphasizes the necessity to prevent errors before they occur as opposed to merely detecting them when they occur.
Data Transparency and Central Quality Control
One of the main factors for being able to successfully uphold the regulations of the ISO/TS 16949, is data transparency. With CAQ.Net®, Klein Kunststofftechnik can achieve said transparency by having instant access to all data relating to the quality assurance procedures along the entire production chain. This means that, for instance, data from complaints can be used directly during inspection planning, locked gauges cannot be used for inspections, and the FMEA is connected directly to the production control plan. The entire quality management system is monitored via the QDrive.Net module. It allows the user to select individual persons, customers, suppliers, articles, machines, or processes and receive precise, real-time feedback regarding the data of the selected entity from throughout the entire system.
Mutual Communication Between the Systems
At Klein Kunststofftechnik the idea of data transparency does not stop at the CAQ-system, as the CAQ-system is also connected directly to the ERP-system. A standard interface transfers master and dynamic data between the two systems. This means that all article master data is synchronized and that incoming goods inspections are automatically logged on in the CAQ-system as soon as new incoming goods are registered by the ERP-system. The direct communication between the two systems thereby greatly increases the overall process efficiency in the company.
ALS and QDX
Apart from being connected to the ERP-system, the CAQ-system was also connected directly to the ALS-system of the Arburg machines that are used by Klein Kunststofftechnik. The interface directly exchanges all process parameters from Arburg electrical, hybrid, and hydraulic injection moulding machines with the CAQ system. This connection to the ALS manufacturing execution system facilitates a consistent and uninterrupted quality management workflow. The QDX-interface that is integrated in the CAQ-system allows Klein Kunststofftechnik to easily fulfil a further requirement. QDX is an abbreviation of the VDA’s “Quality Data eXchange” IT-standard. It provides the automobile industry with an XML exchange format for documents used in quality management between customers and suppliers (e.g. complaints and 8-D reports).
Companywide Document Management
Klein Kunststofftechnik also trusts CAQ AG when it comes to the aspect of document management. They use the document management module to control, maintain, and create all their e.g. certificate-relevant documents. Klein Kunststofftechnik can thereby swiftly and efficiently react to changes that are made to standards. Hence, the upcoming ISO 9001:2015 and the fulfilment of the newly formulated requirements posed no problem at all to them.
A CAQ-System is a tool. It would be wrong to believe that simply purchasing such a system would immediately remove all quality-related problems in a company. A tool needs to be put into skilled hands and data needs to be gathered. Only when all processes are up and running and the employees have been trained will the point be reached, at which the company can respond to any enquiries by customers or auditors at the push of a button. Just one click and documents are printed that precisely answer all questions and, on top of that, automatically feature the correct company logo.
Klein Kunststofftechnik initially believed that the training of employees in the correct usage of the CAQ-system would take about 2 years. They were therefore amazed that the primary training targets were met only 4 months after the software was installed. The reasons for this lay not only in the intuitive user guidance model of the software, but also in the rapid companywide realization of the quality-related benefits and the increase in efficiency that the new CAQ-system brought with it.
Comprehensive Quality Assurance in the Company
The quick achievement of positive results and the fact that responses to auditor or customer enquiries now no longer required searching through MS Excel spreadsheets or piles of documents, rapidly convinced everyone in the quality management department of “their” new system. Their CAQ-system today allows Klein Kunststofftechnik to conduct comprehensive quality assurance that gives them an edge over their competitors and allows them to continually prosper in the very strict automotive sector. It is remarkable to witness, how much quality management knowhow is concentrated in the small enterprise Klein Kunststofftechnik. This knowhow and the clever usage of CAQ.Net® software solutions allow the company to continue to remain right at the top of the preferred supplier lists of the who’s who of the automotive world.