This multinational engineering company with offices across the globe is a supplier of braking components to Ford (UK), Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover.
Each of these companies had specific requirements with specifications being provided by them to our client. In order to safeguard the quality and quantity of components provided the three companies had in place supplier contracts with a number of organisations with these contracts typically being provided on a long term basis with the proviso that quality and quantity requirements were consistently to specifications.
From time to time our client had found themselves in the position where they had seen their contracts temporarily suspended as a result of failing to meet the strict requirements of the three motor companies. This resulted in our client having to undertake an investigation of the nature and extent of the issue regarding a failure to meet the contract specification and where possible to identify the underlying issue that had created this supply problem.
When the problem was identified they were required to provide a written report to whichever of the three manufacturers had identified a quality issue and subsequently suspended the contract.
We worked closely with the Operations Manager to undertake an investigation of the reason for these issues occurring. With quite a high quota of agency workers management felt that this could be one of the issues however upon investigation it was clear that most of these workers had been within the company for quite some time, knew and understood what was expected of them and there was no evidence that they had misunderstood.
An investigation of the processes in place showed that much manual processing took place around the manufacture of the braking components using detailed drawings and specifications to create the components which were subsequently subject to normal engineering testing and quality control methods.
Further investigation identified that where Forward and Vauxhall had clearly identified in their specification that manufacturing tolerances for some components were +/-2 mm Jaguar Land Rover had clearly specified a range of less than 1 mm and while this was clearly understood by management and all of the production team what was clear from the engineering drawings that the company name had been omitted. The results of this was that manufacturing operatives were not aware whether the components that they were manufacturing should be manufactured to a tolerance of 1 mm or 2 mm.
A series of simple steps to ensure that process charts and maps, all engineering drawings and dyes used in the manufacturing process were all subsequently labelled very clearly with the manufacturer and component.
Quality control processes were revised to ensure that as part of a continuous improvement process that those involved in the checking process were clear on the supplier that required a particular component and as a consequence the tolerance allowed in their manufacturing processes.