Layered Process Audits (LPA), by design, are simple, short, and repetitive verifications of process control and conformance. The layered structure makes LPAs an instrumental tool for...
Layered Process Audits (LPA), by design, are simple, short, and repetitive verifications of process control and conformance. The layered structure makes LPAs an instrumental tool for reducing process risks and detecting errors earlier in the manufacturing sequence, thus, improving overall cost of quality within your operations.
However, the repetitive nature of LPA commonly leads to auditors taking short-cuts or “pencil-whipping” their audits just to get them completed. While timely completion of LPAs is important, the true value of an LPA program is the open communication and continual improvements that are generated during the audit itself.
Placing focus on the integrity of audit results and immediate corrections for detected non-conformances produces significant and positive change to both product quality and operating efficiencies.
Here are a few best practices that will aid you in creating a well-developed LPA program and fortifying the integrity of your audits:
Create Valuable Audits
Develop questions based on risk:
- Focus on processes that, have high RPNs, injury rates, scrap/rework, customer complaints (both internal and external), low efficiencies, and/or are critical to product quality
- Create specific questions focused on driving improvement in the controls of your high risk processes
Focus on Quality, not Quantity:
- Auditors should be able to complete each audit in 10 minutes or less
- If a question is not worth asking, don’t ask it: Having 3-5 highly valuable questions yields higher gains than 10-20 low value questions
Structure your audit questions with the auditor in mind:
- Write questions in a WHAT [am I auditing], HOW [do I audit this item], WHY [is it important to monitor this item], REACTION PLAN [if it is non-conforming, I should take this action] format. Providing guidance for your auditor improves their competency and the integrity of your audits
- Prevent “Pencil-Whipping”: ask the auditor to record process information (i.e. actual parameter readings, date/time of last PM, Operator name, etc.). Asking the auditor to record quick/easy data facts related to the audit question verifies they have visited the operation
- Minor non-conformances should be addressed immediately and the auditor should not leave the process until the corrective action is taken
- More complex or longer corrective actions should be initiated immediately and tracked to completion with escalation for Past Due items
- If the risk of your process changes, audit questions should be changed and/or improved to address the emerging risks. Audit checklists are living documents
- Lead by Example: Prioritize LPA plant-wide and should actively participate in the auditing process
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Management should not only communicate the non-conformances/corrective actions, but should be driving communication between themselves and plant personnel while performing their audits. Audits should be viewed as a means of starting improvement conversations in your operations.
- Solidify Auditor Competency: Take time to shadow audit with lower level auditors. Management participation in shadow audits allows them to mentor the audit team and set expectations for effective auditing
- Accountability: Hold auditors and action Champions accountable for completing their tasks in a timely manner. This sends the message to all team members that LPA is a priority
Automation with LPA Software
For organizations using a paper-based system, administration of your LPA program can quickly turn into a full-time position. The frequency and amount of audits required to meet AIAG’s CQI-8 and OEM’s customer specific requirements results in a mountain of paperwork that must be sorted and analyzed before it can be communicated, ultimately, resulting in delays in communication of critical information to Top level Management.
The most effective method for streamlining this process and creating a results-driven LPA program is to utilize LPA Software.
Advantages of utilizing software include:
- Reduces administration time by 85%: User friendly, automated scheduling reduces the time required to manage your LPA program’s schedule by up to 85%, freeing your administrators to focus on value-added areas of responsibility.
- Improve on-time completion rates: Automated email alerts for scheduled and missed audits help your busy team stay on task and on-time for audits responsibilities. Transparency of who is and who is not participating in the LPA program drives team members to focus on completing their assigned tasks in a timely manner and allows management to recognize individuals who are exceeding expectation.
- Respond to Non-conformances faster: Immediate communication of process non-conformances allows your team to investigate and understand what is going wrong while it is going wrong – giving you insight into root cause and potential solutions within minutes. Using an on-line corrective action approval system increases the effectiveness of your audit system and reduces response time to hours rather than days.
- Get Real-time data: Accessing Charts and Graphs with real time data allows your management team to proactively mitigate risks and increase overall performance and profitability.
- Lean management of your LPA program improves efficiency and reduces labor costs associated with performing audits, in turn, providing you a competitive edge over your business opponents.
Insight Lean Solutions developed LPA Admin software, the lean approach to managing layered process auditing. LPA Admin is cloud-based and mobile-friendly, so your leadership team has 24/7 access to process compliance data. Automated email notifications provide real-time feedback to your leadership team, allowing them to proactively mitigate process risks and promptly evaluate process improvement ideas.
To learn more about leveraging your auditing power, or to request a demo, contact us today.