Original Date: 09/15/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Process Certification
To provide the tight control needed to minimize direct and indirect manufacturing costs, United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division Aiken implemented Process Certification to assure manufacturing repeatability and component uniformity. The process recognizes the key roles of operator skills, material properties, tooling, safety, inspection, process, numerical controls, and the machine tool in manufacturing quality.
Previously, United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division (UDLP GSD) Aiken used a traditional manufacturing process focusing on competency for machine operation and execution of work orders to produce economic quantities of individual parts in a high-volume/low-mix environment. Dispersed responsibility for certain functions intrinsic to the manufacturing operation (i.e., quality assurance) led to large numbers of operations that reduced machine availability, and other operations that did not add value to the product. With other process changes being undertaken at UDLP GSD Aiken to better support other internal processes and improve performance, it was essential to better control workstation operation.
As part of the strategic plan, top management established Process Certification as a goal, and formed a Process Certification Team. The Team included a leader/champion, process owners, process stakeholders, and, where appropriate, customer representation. The Team comprehensively reviewed the manufacturing process at each workstation, and developed a draft charter for review and approval by the Site Steering Committee. The charter includes identifying behavioral norms and utilizing continuous improvement tools. On acceptance of the charter, the Site Steering Committee ensured that necessary resource requirements were adequately staffed.
With the charter in hand, the Committee analyzed the broad scope of workstation operations. Key inputs included equipment, skills, materials, morale, engineering processes, product design, tooling, safety, and behavior. Typical outputs were quality improvements to improve customer satisfaction, increase throughput, cost reduction, and establishment of a process ownership culture. The Team then established metrics and key process characteristics that can be measured and reported to monitor process implementation and identify subsequent improvement opportunities. After suitable review, the plan was approved and participants in the process were trained for their roles and conformance with the plan or work instruction requirements. The training included behavioral requirements, process analysis methodologies, auditing, and preventive maintenance requirements. The process was implemented, tested, updated and refined. Additional training was, and is provided as required based on demonstrated process performance and process owner/stakeholder understanding.
To achieve process certification, ongoing internal reviews have several key criteria that include: Audits and key process indicators must exhibit acceptable results
Complete requirements are understood and followed
Complete process owners/stakeholders are trained for the initial cycle
Acceptable team behavior
Team understanding that certification is only the initial step for improvement
Team understanding that personnel will be measured from this point on for continuous improvement in the process
Celebrating the success
Direct benefits of Process Certification include continuous process monitoring via artifact and probe checks and reduced product inspection time, with concurrent increased machine efficiency and utilization. Indirect benefits include management using these controlled, certified processes to implement other, enterprise-wide processes important to meeting corporate financial goals and increasing customer satisfaction.
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