First things first: the characteristics of the Layered Process Audit
The Layered Process Audit owes its name to its working process: unlike other audits, LPA is hosted by different hierarchical levels (as Plant Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders) of different areas (as Production, Maintenance and Supply Chain) of a company.
The periodicity of the LPA audits is fundamental for the success of this standardization process: they can be run daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The frequency will depend on the hierarchical level performing the audit, the scope, which can be a workstation or a whole production line.
It is important to mention that the LPA audit is not intended to replace the audits imposed by the IATF such as the QMS audit, the Product & Process audits. The LPA audit is complementary, it is a management tool that relies on the participation of all the areas related to production (directly or indirectly) to standardize and improve practices.
How does LPA work in practice?
To understand why implementing LPA in your production cycle, it is important to properly understand the characteristics of this process. Afterall, Layered Process Audit is a tool to verify the application of standard rules within the production line. Also, it enforces a routine to manage the operations performance within the Automotive industry.
All in all, LPA ensures standard processes are applied all along the production chain, including manufacturing itself but also control operations, logistics (packaging, labeling, rework, etc.) and maintenance activities related to product realization. The ultimate goal is to have a highly controlled production chain to reduce quality issues on the final product and meet your customers’ requirements.
This cleaner production cycle is achieved through exchanges with employees and workstations observations to define standards and identify improvement opportunities. These exchanges (or interviews) can be held by the production team and should be supported by other internal players from the audited areas, such as quality, engineering, logistics and maintenance.
As LPA audits are not conducted by the Quality Department, it is important for auditors to be trained on auditing techniques. After all, they should be able to periodically run the audits within their areas to identify corrective and preventive actions to be taken, based on their field observations and internal benchmarks.
These observations are accomplished following the pre-established checkpoints, chosen and updated according to the audits’ results. The good news is that LPA audits do not need a prior risk analysis or prioritization of the audited subjects, simplifying the process. This system of reporting and follow-up ensures corrective actions are established and put in place in a solid way.
Finally, why should you implement Layered Process Audits in your company?
LPA is a complementary tool for monitoring, controlling and improvement of working standards. Its goal is to promote operations performance through management involvement in operation activities standardization. The benefits of implementing a strong Layered Process Audit program in your company goes from lower scrap and decreases in the amount of rework necessary in final products to less customers’ complaints.
These benefits are achieved thanks to a better production process standardization, accomplished through the established actions after each internal audit. However, internal improvements are not the only reason why implementing LPA in your company can be important. The Automotive market is also demanding LPA implementation through their CSR (Customer Specific Requirements):
- As of today, Stellantis and GM’s CSRs requirements comprise LPA implementation by its suppliers. However, more than seeing it as an additional constraint, the response to these requirements may be considered an opportunity to set up a tool capable of playing an effective complementary role in performance management.
- Please note that Stellantis requires that organizations use CQI-8: Layered Process Audits Guideline, 2nd Edition to establish a Layered Process Audit program and use them to qualify operators. A LPA audit that identifies nonconforming situations due to instructions that have not being applied gives a signal on the skills of the operator in the workstation. At the same time, several compliant results indicate that the operator could be ready to be in an advanced level.
How to implement LPA?
LPA is a process that can help your company to solve some fundamental issues within the production line. Before its implementation, it will be necessary that the whole hierarchical line understands its roles and its limits. It will also be necessary to consider how to implement it by integrating the process into an organization where a certain number of tools already exist, without duplicating a tool already in place.
Discover the Key Success Factors for LPA implementation:
- The implementation of LPA must be as rigorous as any other business project.
- The project must be coordinated by a sponsor in Leadership, with a clear definition of their role. Manufacturing Manager is a perfect person to have this role.
- The audit topics must be relevant and aligned with the OEM’s requirements. Moreover, they should be connected to the specific weaknesses of your company. Variable points should also be part of the audits, which should be updated regularly according to the business priorities.
- The deadlines must be respected – not only concerning the audits, but also the actions defined after each observed deviation.
- It is important to set up a map of results by workstation.
- The implementation of a results analysis routine is important to deal with recurrent deviations with systemic corrective actions.
- Several follow-up levels will be required to monitor the proper functioning of the approach, including the QMS management review.
How TRIGO can help you?
TRIGO offers you a complete training and coaching program on LPA methodologies so you can deploy the approach within your team. The objectives of the training are:
- Understand the requirements of CQI-8 and specific OEMs demands.
- Learn the LPA key success factors.
- Understand the benefits of LPA audits.
- Learn how to build an LPA audit system adapted to your business.
- On-site training: acquire initial experience in developing audit checklists and conducting LPA audits.
This training can be done in open-training sessions (1 day) or in-house sessions, with prior preparation and practical application in the field (2 days).