foliofive | crisis management GmbH
Rolf-Stefan Scheible | managing director
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The Quality Board - an important driver for stable production

The Quality Board - an important driver for stable production

Normally, the service life of an aircraft is quite long.  The fierce competition in this market requires OEMs to launch new products with significant improvements over the previous model.  The main focus is usually on fuel efficiency and range, which is linked to the search for innovative lightweight structures in all 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 a not yet mature innovation quite early.  Therefore, from our experience, it is quite "normal" for the final development steps to take place in parallel with the production ramp-up.  If this process is not well managed, the risk of a negative impact on production performance is obvious.

In our recent blogs we have outlined the importance of the Control Room for day-to-day management in an operational crisis. Quality is part of the reported KPIs, but there is not enough space in the Control Room to discuss quality issues in depth.

Therefore, in addition to the Control Room, we recommend the establishment of a weekly Quality Board to systematically address quality issues.

The following Terms of References define the Quality Board:

  • Chair: Quality Manager or Programme Manager
  • Participants: Programme, Engineering, Production, Quality, Procurement
  • Frequency: 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 simply start with the quality KPIs of the production process. Mandatory is a well-implemented quality control system that allows inspectors to collect quality defects per workstation and per product inspected. In our understanding of a well-organised production, there are quality gates at all important interfaces:

  • Quality Gate 1: Incoming goods inspection of all procured material.
  • Quality Gate 2: Inspection after parts production
  • Quality Gate 3: Inspection after assembly

These three Q-Gates are only illustrative.  You will usually need a few more, especially if you have outsourced part of your business (e.g. machining, painting, etc.).

All identified defects must be collected for each gate. As a standard report, the quality organisation should produce a weekly Pareto analysis.  The Quality Board then selects the top three problems at each gate. If there are three gates, the Quality Control Board must focus exactly on a maximum of three measures (sometimes a top problem can occur at several production steps).

For the rest of the procedure, we recommend following the DMAIC process from the SixSigma methodology:

  • Define the problem
  • Collect all relevant measurements
  • Analyse the collected data
  • Improve the process
  • Control the results

These five steps seem simple. But they are not! Too often we have seen people jump too quickly to the first idea for improvement, only to realise much later that there was a better idea around the corner that could have been identified with a little more analysis.

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