Please click on the cover to view
Laser & Waterjet Profiling
Register here for a free monthly edition of the magazine
Subscribe here to receive our free newsletter for a monthly round-up of the latest news and features
Thanks to a Six Sigma project and new defect tracking software system that helps collect quality data in real-time, truck manufacturer Navistar’s Chatham, Ontario, plant has forged a path to in-process quality improvement.
“Navistar has made a substantial commitment to improving quality and customer service,” says Rick Burns, the master black belt in charge of the Chatham implementation. “The Six Sigma initiative has refocused our efforts on making sure that we produce the best heavy trucks in the world.”
Six Sigma projects rely heavily on statistical metrics to help lead teams to the areas that will benefit the most from process improvements. These in turn are evaluated to find the root causes of quality problems.
Navistar’s Chatham facility developed an in-house system that helps collect quality data, but it couldn’t trace the location of defects to its X and Y coordinates on panels or within subcomponents. A search began to find a system that would provide this functionality. Twelve potential software companies were benchmarked with decision making methodology employed to determine the best fit.
Navistar chose ATS Inspect from ATS International, which has created quality systems for such clients as Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA, MAN Trucks Austria and Rolls-Royce Aerospace in the UK.
ATS Inspect consists of several configurable application modules with the system visually presenting products to inline assemblers and inspectors at various points on the plant floor. Touchscreen or stylus entry – no keyboard required – allows fast, accurate capture of quality information by serialised product. Defect location may be stored with a product image for graphical representation. The Layout Manager module allows users to design each input screen to reflex the operating environment at each workstation. Functional defects not requiring X-Y coordinate capture can also be entered into the system.
Information about the current production now is available to anyone on the Navistar intranet via an internet browser and because the data collected is real-time, reaction to production and quality problems is immediate. Navistar also elected to purchase the Event Alert Service module, which alerts personnel via page, email or displays in the plant based on variable data such as number of defects per unit, defects per thousand or even safety concerns.
The system was installed and functional within weeks and, according to Navistar, inspectors had no problem learning the new system with its fast, customisable input and intuitive design. ”When we first discovered ATS Inspect, we thought the ability to pinpoint the actual location of certain defects, especially paint, was the greatest benefit,” says Mr Burns. “But after using the system for a few months, it became clear that this function is secondary to the ability to analyse the statistical information immediately.
“The Event Alert Service will allow us to automate the notification process instead of trying to track down the appropriate parties when there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. The system has proved so successful that Navistar is rolling out globally across 36 plants,” he adds.