Combining Quality Systems and Processes to Focus on What Really Matters

Dr. Rocky Pinheiro has been in the automotive and parts manufacturing business for 20 years working in roles that include front line supervision, Plant Operations at an executive level and the Vice President of Quality for North American Operations at Acument Global Technologies, the largest fastener manufacturer in the world.

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Tell us a little about your Root Cause Analysis processes and Quality systems. What makes your way unique?

We’re very methodical in our approach, and we have a combination of Root Cause processes. We’re a combination of the World Class Manufacturing system from Fiat-Chrysler and Toyota Production System. It’s an interesting combination of these two theoretical approaches, if you will, that we use here.

Where did this system come from? How have you developed this set of tools and processes?

We call it the Fontana Production System. Acument is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fontana Gruppo, which is an Italian company. They purchased Acument almost two years ago now. We’re a fastener manufacturer. Together now with Fontana, we’re one of the largest fastener manufacturers in the world.

This Fontana Production System is 100% based on Fiat’s World Class Manufacturing system, so the process I’m talking about is what’s called out in Fontana’s quality pillar of the Fontana Production System with some additional tools like the Practical Problem-Solving Report, the quality alert, the one-point lesson. Those are very Toyota-centric things.

When I started my career in manufacturing in 1996 at Chrysler, we didn’t have World Class Manufacturing. That didn’t come to Chrysler until 2009 when Fiat took over the Chrysler Group. Before that, Chrysler for their problem-solving process was using the Nissan and Toyota system in terms of reviewing quality concerns and dealing with issues in the plant, and I was one of the first people at Chrysler to go through this formal training process that we developed into the new Chrysler Operating System (COS) in the late 90s.

So I took that system, and then when I came to Acument in 2012 I brought all that with me, and then when Fontana purchased us in 2014, melded the two systems together.

You are a couple of years into this new system now. How are your outcomes now as opposed to before these new processes were put in place?

I’m seeing less repeat issues and less high severity problems. We’re driving corrections closer to the point of manufacture, and they’re not getting downstream to the customer as much as they used to.

So how exactly have you combined the Toyota and Chrysler quality systems?

The Toyota system is very focused on the granularity of a problem. So the quality alert, the one-point lesson, performing the 5W1H, which is also a construct of the World Class Manufacturing system, then you go into the Ishikawa. From the ishikawa you move into the Go-See or the genchi- genbutsu process, and from that we create the Practical Problem-Solving Report which is a Chrysler-based summary report that has root case, it also has the Five Whys section and elements of Kepner Tregoe.

It has the implementation of short-term corrective actions. It lists whatever containment activities you are doing. It has the ishikawa, genchi genbutsu results in the lower left-hand side, and then it has the read-across section to it.

All of that is derived from the Toyota methodology with a little bit of overlay into the Chrysler World Class Manufacturing process, but then the next step of the World Class Manufacturing process is taking all of these singular root cause analysis events and issues –whether it’s an internal issue, an informal issue, or a formal issue of the customer– and we build them into this scoring methodology called the QA Matrix and we assign scores to them.

So for example, depending where in the process we detect a failure or defect that is a multiplier in terms of severity. How much of the product, the cost the product, etc., it all acts as a multiplier. So every month we roll this up into a pareto, and it gives us more of a systemic view where we collect all issues that occur at all the plants in the company; it tells me on a monthly basis and a quarterly basis where our issues are and provides the compass of what is going on from a quality process and a first-time quality performance perspective in the company.

It immediately gives us the ability to read it across in terms of, ‘What in my process is broken?’ rather than, ‘Hey this thing got to the customer. How did that happen?’ Instead we talk about what is happening in my process that if I fix it, it makes ten or fifteen problems go to zero.

How does this system find actionable data and guide your problem-solving process?

When we look at the data from the QA Matrix, so when we’re looking at a pareto view of my top issue of the month, we take that issue and that becomes the problem statement that we go backwards and then drop it into the 5W1H, the ishikawa, and the genchi genbutsu process.

We take that data and work backwards, whereas in a normal root cause analysis process I have an issue that’s a singular issue. Something’s breaking at the customer, or as we are reviewing internal metrics in the plant we have a part that’s maybe dimensionally not correct, so we put that on hold and then start to work that one very specific issue on that specific lot, but we don’t work it from a process standpoint where we look at a monthly issue.

Our number one problem could be ‘Parts are too long’ let’s say. So we look at it and say, “Parts are too long?” Then we work that back into the 5W1H and ask “why are my parts too long? Where am I seeing that parts are too long? Am I seeing this only at the customer?”

If the answer is yes, then what about my system is broken that we need to start correcting from a Man Method Machine and Materials standpoint when we are working the ishikawa and then do the go-see, we see what parts of the system are broken from this higher level problem because parts being too long isn’t going to be one specific occurrence.

It’s going to be occurring across multiple issues, and it may be multiple issues that didn’t boil up through the formal root cause analysis process because we don’t perform root cause analysis on every single issue that we have in the company. We only do that singular event for formal concerns of the customer. For example, we don’t do it on all of our internal materials isolations. We perform a simple Five-Why and that builds the database for us, if you will.

What we’re finding by applying that problem-solving process to the QA Matrix output and the pareto is that it immediately gives us the ability to read it across in terms of, ‘What in my process is broken?’ rather than, ‘Hey this thing got to the customer. How did that happen?’ Instead we talk about what is happening in my process that if I fix it, it makes ten or fifteen problems go to zero.

How are you communicating what works between the different quality management people within your organization?

We do internal benchmarking a couple of different ways. One is every week we have a call where one or two plants a week will share something that they’ve done that helped them move the ball down the field. We openly share that. All of our meetings are done on a Google Hangout where people share their screens with one another. It’s very interactive.

We have a monthly meeting where we talk about our formal concerns and what people have done to contain and the work that they’ve done, so all the plants are on that call at the same time. It’s a three-hour meeting that we have on the second Monday of every month, and again it’s very interactive where they hear what others have done that has worked as it pertains to a customer issue.

Twice a year I bring the team together and I put them in a room for two days, and part of those two days is them reporting out on their QA Matrix projects. Their monthly from the previous month and then their quarterly from the last quarter so they can show each other the work that they’re doing and how they’re using the tools in their plants to solve the problems. They’re all using the same tools. They’re all applying it in the same way, but obviously you’re seeing a little bit of flavor here and there in how someone applies the same set of tools a little differently from Plant A to Plant B.

We do a lot of internal benchmarking. We do a lot of sharing from plant to plant.

What should other manufacturers take away from your experience with this system?

There are a couple of things. One, it can provide structure to when you should be using which tool. For our internal isolations, things that never leave the plant, never get to the customer, we do kind of problem-solving light, if you will. For things that do get to the customer, formal and informal, we do the root cause piece and then both of those things, the internal and the thing that got to the external customer we roll up to the QA Matrix.

The QA Matrix basically tells us on a monthly and a quarterly basis what we need to attack from a kaizen approach. So depending on the kind of issue, it tells you what tool to pull out of the tool box.

Depending on what the QA Matrix is telling you in terms of your monthly and quarterly review, it gives you the scope and the direction to apply these tools to a much broader problem statement. That’s what I like about it: It provides structure to your problems solving, and then the steps that you follow from the quality alert all the way through to the practical problem-solving report, which is the summary report that you provide at the end, it’s very structured. You can’t skip one and go onto the next because they don’t tie together if you do that. It’s going to have holes, and you’re going to notice those holes exist. It’s going to be obvious as you’re going through the process.

We have this now on a web-based process where it’s all on the computer so I’m not even using paper anymore. We still allow people to print it and take it to the floor when they’re in their quality councils and on gemba walks, but everything’s computer-based now, so it gives us the ability at an executive level to track people’s work, to track the amount of time it’s taking to get done, and I can make sure that things are properly closed out and communicated to the customer so that we’re now providing a customer service and a customer satisfaction piece with our root cause analysis. Because of this our customers are receiving things on time, that are complete and make sense, and they’re highly standardized.