Original Date: 08/20/2001
Revision Date: 12/14/2006
Best Practice : Eight-Step Process Improvement Program
The Eight-Step Process Improvement Program, an effective continuous improvement tool applied to supplier quality management and development, recognizes that significant risk can be mitigated before adverse trends develop. The program focuses on process control and sharing of quality techniques, and can be applied at any time during the production cycle.
In the past, Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems (NE&SS-SS) used traditional approaches (e.g., production readiness reviews, qualifications prior to production) for supplier quality management and development. During production, a reactive system monitored the supplier’s quality performance and implemented corrective measures after trends were identified. Although somewhat effective, the company did not study the processes in detail nor optimize the opportunities for making improvements. Readiness reviews often lacked the thoroughness required to study in-depth process flows and preparedness for new/revised products introduced into the system. Reactive systems required fixes after significant damage had already been done, typically impacting product cost, quality, and delivery at a much higher level than if adverse conditions were corrected early in the production cycle. Seeing an opportunity for continuous improvement, the Material Acquisition Center Mid-Atlantic Region (MAC-MAR) at Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS implemented the Eight-Step Process improvement Program in 1998.
The Eight-Step Process Improvement Program follows a detailed process flow that focuses on critical suppliers, materials, and processes; uses analytical tools to identify supplier trends; identifies critical manufacturing and/or part processes; and employs process surveillance to monitor risk areas. With the help of input by the business units, key suppliers are selected for review under the program. MAC-MAR assigns a lead engineer to facilitate a team of three to six people for each supplier, which then sets the eight-step process into motion. Team composition is personnel from other business units who have expertise in the products/processes related to the product to be delivered. The team uses various purchasing and performance databases to develop Pareto Analysis charts for review, and has access to the supplier to document, review, and analyze process flows. From these analyses and reviews, the team develops supplier action plans and requirements. The supplier makes the prescribed changes and the team monitors the performance. The combined progress of all the suppliers selected for the program is then charted to reveal the total impact of the Eight-Step Process Improvement Program.
In 2000, 93% of the 57 key suppliers showed performance improvement. By the first quarter of 2001, 96% of the 59 key suppliers showed performance improvement, all impacting various degrees of quality, cost, and delivery of their products to Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS. The Eight-Step Process Improvement Program is part of a powerful suite of tools and techniques employed by MAC-MAR to improve supplier performance.
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