Usually, the lifetime of an aircraft is pretty long. The fierce competition in this market requires the OEMs to launch new products with major improvements compared to the previous model. Main focus is usually fuel efficiency and range that is linked to find innovative light weight structures all over the aircraft components. The long development phase of an aircraft and the early commitment to a certain specification could force the OEM and its supply chain to sell pretty early an innovation which has not been yet fully developed. Therefore it is from our experience quite “normal” that the latest development steps happen in parallel to the production ramp up. In case this process is not well managed, the risk of a negative impact on production output is obvious.
In our latest blogs we illustrated the relevance of the Production Control Room for a daily management in an operational crisis. Quality is part of the reported KPIs, however there is not sufficient room to discuss quality concerns in detail.
Therefore, we recommend in case of quality concerns the introduction of a weekly Quality Board in addition to the daily Production Control Room.
The following Terms of References define the Quality Board:
- Lead: Head of Quality or Head of Programmes
- Participants: Programmes, Engineering, Production, Quality, Procurement
- Frequence: Once a week
- Duration: One hour
- Objective: Identify means to improve production quality
- Methods: DMAIC approach from SixSigma
How is the quality board structured? Well, we start simply with the Quality KPIs of the production process. Mandatory is a well implemented quality control system which allows the inspectors to collect quality defects per workstation and product tested. In our understanding of a well organized production we do have quality gates at all major handovers:
- Quality Gate 1: Incoming good inspection of all procured material
- Quality Gate 2: Inspection after Part Production
- Quality Gate 3: Inspection after Assembly
These three Q-Gates are only illustrative. Usually you need a couple more, especially when you have subcontracted a part of your business to external suppliers (e.g. machining, painting, etc.).
All identified defects need to be collected for each gate. As a standard report the quality organization should provide a Pareto Analysis on a weekly basis. In the Quality Board we pick than the three top issues at each gate. In case you have three gates the Quality Control Board has to focus exactly on maximum three measures (some times a top issue can occur at several production steps).
For the further process we recommend to follow the DMAIC process from the SixSigma Methodology:
- Define the issue
- Collect all relevant Measurements
- Analyze the collected data
- Improve your process
- Control the results
This five steps seem to be simple. But it is not! We have seen too often that people jump too fast on the first improvement idea and discover much later that there was a better idea around the corner which could have been identified with a little bit more analysis effort.