Industry Forum

SMMT Industry Forum is active globally supporting automotive manufacturing, bringing best practices and expertise honed over decades to new and expanding markets. Our CEO Ashley Fernihough is currently on a Trade Mission in Ghana to support discussion on increasing new automotive trade in the country. We look forward to sharing his experience and thoughts on how global manufacturing can benefit from shared knowledge exchange.

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organisations across industries face growing complexities and challenges. The automotive industry operates in a highly regulated environment, requiring adherence to strict quality standards and ensuring compliance with industry-specific requirements. Implementing automotive audit practices can significantly contribute to the overall strength and resilience of an organisation. In this blog, Commercial Manager, Max Coller will explore the advantages of using automotive audit practices and how they can help strengthen your organisation.

Enhanced Quality Management:
Automotive audit practices provide a systematic approach to assess and improve the quality management systems within your organisation. By conducting regular audits, you can identify areas that require improvement, detect potential risks, and address non-conformities. This proactive approach enables you to continually enhance your processes, reduce defects, and deliver products or services that consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.

Continuous Improvement:
One of the core principles of automotive audit practices is the pursuit of continuous improvement. By conducting audits at regular intervals, you create a culture of learning and refinement within your organisation. Audits provide valuable insights into process inefficiencies, gaps in training or resources, and areas where innovation can be applied. By implementing the necessary corrective actions identified during audits, you can drive continuous improvement, foster a culture of excellence, and stay ahead in a competitive market.

Compliance with Industry Standards:
The automotive industry is subject to numerous regulatory requirements and quality standards, such as IATF 16949. Implementing automotive audit practices ensures that your organisation complies with these standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties, legal issues, or loss of business opportunities. Audits help you maintain a robust framework for managing documentation, records, and processes, aligning your organisation with industry best practices.

Supply Chain Management:
The automotive industry relies heavily on complex supply chains, where numerous components and subsystems come together to build a final product. Automotive audit practices enable you to assess the performance and reliability of your suppliers. Conducting supplier audits helps you evaluate their quality management systems, manufacturing capabilities, and compliance with relevant standards. By strengthening your supply chain through audits, you can reduce the risk of supply disruptions, improve overall product quality, and build stronger relationships with reliable suppliers.

Risk Identification and Mitigation:
Organisations face various risks, both internal and external, that can impact their operations, reputation, and financial stability. Automotive audit practices assist in identifying and mitigating these risks effectively. Through systematic audits, you can evaluate potential risks, in production and non-production systems alike, such as bottlenecks, inadequate process controls, or cybersecurity vulnerabilities. By addressing these risks proactively, you can reduce downtime, enhance operational efficiency, and protect sensitive data, ensuring a secure environment for your organisation.

Implementing automotive audit practices offers numerous advantages that strengthen your organisation’s operations, reputation, and overall performance. From enhancing quality management and ensuring compliance with industry standards to managing supply chain risks and driving continuous improvement, audits provide a systematic and proactive approach to identify and address areas of improvement. By leveraging the benefits of automotive audit practices, you can enhance your organisation’s resilience, efficiency, and ability to deliver superior products or services in the dynamic automotive industry.

For more information on how we can help you with preparing for audit, carrying it out and addressing any issues that arise from it, contact us on 0121 717 6600 or email [email protected]
Max Coller

The automotive industry is contributing significantly to employment and export revenues in the UK economy. Global competition and technology advancements are a threat to the UK automotive market, and have evolved exponentially, especially after Covid and Brexit.

It’s imperative then, that automotive manufacturers seek innovative strategies to improve productivity, efficiency, and overall performance. One such approach gaining momentum is the adoption of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of TPM in the UK automotive sector and explore its benefits.

Empowering the Workforce:

TPM is not just about equipment maintenance, it also focuses on developing people and appreciating their value. It is the workforce that maintain and improve the machines, equipment, and systems, and especially with Industry 4.0, without the workforce having the right skills to analyse, troubleshoot and intervene at the right time, the situation could be catastrophic.

TPM emphasises developing a culture of continuous improvement involving the entire workforce through engaging employees at all levels to foster a sense of ownership, responsibility, and empowerment.

Enhancing Equipment Reliability:

The UK automotive sector relies heavily on sophisticated machinery and equipment to meet the production demands of an increasingly competitive market. TPM not only focuses on equipment reliability through proactive maintenance practices, but also looks into ease of maintenance, ideally maintenance free. This leads to enhanced manufacturing processes, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.

Enforcing in Quality and Safety

In the automotive sector, maintaining high standards of quality and safety is paramount. Striving for zero-defects and zero accidents are the way forward. People and Equipment are the biggest asset within the business to enforce the dynamic of quality and safety. TPM worked with the asset within the business to aim for zero losses as a result.

Hence, TPM can revolutionise the way automotive organisations operate. Embracing TPM principles will not only drive efficiency, productivity, and profitability but also pave the way for sustainable growth and success in the dynamic automotive industry.

TPM Origins

TPM was developed by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance in 1971 and has been continually refined since.

Our partnership with JIPM

TPM originated from the Japanese Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM). SMMT Industry Forum is 1 of 4 certified TPM consultancies globally, and the only one in the UK awarded by JIPM to provide TPM related training and consultancy.

We pride ourselves on our ‘Learn by Doing’ approach, which enables your organisation to benefit from the implementation as well as develop people through ongoing coaching and consultancy.

For more information on how we can help you and your organisation, contact us on 0121 717 6600 or email [email protected].

We’ve come so far…but there’s still a long way to go.

At SMMT Industry Forum, we are in the unique position of having a Senior Management Team (SMT) that is made up of 3 females and 2 males – a definite diversion from the norm, where in 2022 the CMI (Chartered Institute of Managers) found that fewer than half of management roles in the UK (41%) were filled by women – despite the fact that women make up half of the population and workforce.

Laura Baker, our HR & Talent Management Specialist is one of those women on the SMT. To mark IWD’s 2023 Laura took part in a Q&A discussing her early career, her hopes for the future, and how we can work together to ensure that we achieve true equality for all.

As an HR Professional what do you see as the main barriers for women who want to progress in their careers?

More often than not, I see women who would happily stay at their current company, but unfortunately the chances for them to progress are not there. It was the same for me – when I started out, I worked for a very traditional company – all the main players were men, and the office was pretty much split between the ‘important’ people who had nice offices and better space and the admin/HR functions – who tended to be made up of women, in the smaller part of the office with the dodgy printer and bad lighting! It became clear that if I wanted to move up the ladder, then that company wasn’t the place for me.

Whilst we’ve seen improvements in this area, sadly, especially for women who’ve taken a career break to have children, I see that all too often, applicants are moving simply because the organisations they currently are working for, just don’t have the bandwidth for them to move up and keep pace with their male colleagues.

Picking up on your point re career breaks, how do you think society could improve on the way we deal with parental responsibilities?

I think that paternity leave is a great start, but there’s so much more we could do. Families/parents are no longer just a Mum & Dad – we have all manner of combinations, so why can’t the family decide between them who is best placed to take either all or part of maternity leave entitlement? We’re also sending mixed messages – there’s so much now on early years development and how important it is for Dads especially to spend time with their kids, but by only giving 2 weeks paternity pay we’re signalling that it’s not really important for men to spend a prolonged period of time with their kids when they are born – which just isn’t true! There’s tons of research out there that says if men had the opportunity to take extended time then they would.

We also need to do something about the prohibitive cost of childcare. The UK childcare system is the world’s second most expensive – Cyprus is the first. According to research published in March 2022 by Mumsnet and campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, 43% of mothers have said soaring childcare costs have made them consider leaving their jobs, while 40 per cent say they have had to work fewer hours than they would like to for the same reason. Not only does this disadvantage women but it has a massive effect on GDP – all of those experienced women leaving the workforce will be a real problem in the not-too-distant future, so the Government really need to listen to campaigners and look at solutions.

Given that we are seeing a greater number of women leaving the workforce due to childcare pressures, what would you as HR/Talent Management like to see for people?

At the moment, we’re in a sort of halfway house – post pandemic we have hybrid working, which sounds great, but some of the policies can be restrictive and actually hinder people rather than helping.

I’d like to see true autonomy given to people – whatever the make-up of a family, I would like for them to be able to organise their workloads/caring responsibilities in a way that of course works for business, but crucially works for them too.

We’ve seen some introduction of this from some of the larger UK organisations, with work anywhere anytime policies, but very little from mid-size organisations. I think there’s a real chance for mid-sized organisations to lead on this and start to shift a little and introduce policies that move towards autonomy for everyone.

Things are quite scary in the wider world at the moment, and in the US especially it seems that women’s rights have rowed back significantly – do you still have hope for the future and the next generation?

I do! The world definitely can be a scary place, but what I see from the young men and women who are starting to make their way up is far more openness and awareness of each other – things like mental health awareness, self-awareness, the focus on DEI, all of the things that ten years ago you’d struggle to get people to take seriously is now the norm, so while there are groups who try to destabilise, and while they might succeed in some of their aims in the short term, I genuinely believe that the next generation have an outlook and expectation of the world that is far more open. I have a young daughter, and already the way she and her friends interact and communicate is so different from when I was a kid that it gives me enormous hope for the future.

Published: May 2021

Why it’s time to problem-solve problem-solving, urges Adam Woodward, Principal Engineer – Automotive Management Systems at SMMT QMD.

Any wholesale transition to a new set of rules and requirements takes time to bed in. Who can believe that we are now four years into the IATF 16949 quality management standard?

At this stage, many companies are navigating their way through the first re-certification cycle, an in-depth assessment covering all of the IATF 16949 requirements ideally in person, Covid restrictions permitting – following surveillance audits during the first two years. If successful, a new IATF 16949 certificate is issued with a three year duration.

To help automotive manufacturers remain compliant, SMMT QMD periodically releases data on nonconformities, the latest publication showing the most common major and minor nonconformities raised globally over the past 12 months.


A problem of problem-solving? 

The past 12 months saw a range of nonconformities highlighted. They include contingency planning, total productive maintenance, customer satisfaction, manufacturing process design output, control planning, and monitoring and measurement of manufacturing processes, among others.

Standing out above the rest, and by a considerable margin however, are ‘nonconformity management and corrective action’ and ‘problem-solving’. These numbers include those minor nonconformities that have been escalated to major as a result of ineffective onsite verification. This escalation requirement also demands the issuance of a new major nonconformity against nonconformity and corrective action.

Why is this such a serious issue? The simple answer is that major nonconformities will result in the automatic suspension of an organisation’s IATF 16949 certification. It also suggests a major risk to the customer, jeopardising the organisation’s ability to be effective at what it does, and potentially, to develop new business. That’s something no manufacturer needs, especially now.

As a reminder, here is what the IATF is looking for – specifically, a documented process for problem solving that prevents recurrence:

  1. Defined approaches for various types and scale of problems.
  2. Containment, interim actions and related activities necessary for control of nonconforming outputs.
  3. Root cause analysis – methodology used, analysis and results.
  4. Implementation of systemic corrective actions, including consideration of their impact on similar processes and products.
  5. Verification of the effectiveness of implemented corrective actions.
  6. Reviewing and updating appropriate documentation.

This needs to be evidenced to IATF auditors, beyond the presentation of such documents – examples of the various processes being used to solve real-world problems are required.

We see a common theme linked to manufacturers being able to show that they understand what the problem is in the first place. Have they taken sufficient time to understand the problem before diving in with solutions?

It is important to maintain a structured approach to find the root cause, rather than just adopting a sticking plaster approach.

Here, culture and messaging from the top is crucial. Managers need to consider whether they are providing their employees with the skills required to problem solve effectively and, critically, allowing them the time to invest in it properly.

There is also something to be said around the type of problem being faced. For example, customer product complaints create a sense of alarm and an urge for immediate action for the organisation, whereas supplier problems, internal audit findings, internal concerns may not be met with the same level of response urgency – this could lead to inconsistencies. Inconsistencies are red flags in the IATF audit process.


How to master problem solving and maintain an effective quality management system

There are plenty of steps your organisation can take to enhance its problem-solving capabilities, in support of the IATF goals.

SMMT QMD and Industry Forum offer a problem solving for IATF 16949 course to help companies prepare themselves to meet the requirements of the standard. It’s a practical approach to problem-solving that focuses on empowering employees with the knowledge of how to address issues.

There are also many known and well-recognised approaches to problem-solving that can help get manufacturers where they need to be.

We offer specialist training, which is specifically aimed at the IATF 16949 context, helping firms to ensure they are ready to meet the requirements of the standard.

We also run courses that support other recurring IATF 16949 nonconformities:

APQP and PPAP Essentials

Statistical Process Control (SPC) Training

Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) Training

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) for IATF 16949

We want to be as practical and hands-on as possible. Because we see the same themes pop up in relation to nonconformities, our courses are designed to empower your employees with the knowledge they need to apply it decisively in the workplace. This, coupled with our other core tools, will help make your organisation not only compliant, but also more efficient and better-managed.

Problem-solving is a critical component of any successful business, and perhaps something we take for granted in the automotive supply chain world. The aerospace sector has already developed its own industry-wide problem solving standard in the form of AS13000 – this, we believe, could be a sound example to follow in the future.

Given the recurring prominence of problem solving in the non-conformance data released by the SMMT QMD, we would like to understand more about your experience with relation to the discipline. Please complete this short survey. We will publish the findings in our next blog.

Following the national lockdown announcement earlier this week, IF would like to assure its customers that:

  • IF remains open and available to support you through the challenges faced; the team can be contacted via the website or on 0121 717 6600, our standard operating hours are 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • IF will continue to provide training and support remotely, via the highest quality technology solutions
  • As always, the safety of our customers and team is of utmost importance. Therefore, IF continues to provide face to face provision when remote activity is not feasible, work cannot be postponed and only when strict COVID safety measures can be met

Continuity of service and providing the highest quality support when, and how you need it remains IF’s number one priority. Rest assured that the benefit of our experience means that IF is extremely well placed to deal with and support you through the challenges another lockdown brings businesses such as yours. Since March 2020, we have run a successful programme of virtual and remote assessments, consultancy and training services, with outstanding results.

Overview of support IF provides:

  • eLearning and Virtual training including; TPM, QRM, Six Sigma, Leadership, Supply Chain Management and much more
  • Crisis control and contingency planning
  • Urgent provision of resource on customer focused activities
  • Management coaching, mentoring and 1-2-1 support
  • HR consultancy, planning and implementation support services
  • Absence and furlough management
  • Urgent and immediate support for quality and demand challenges
  • Tailored Supplier Development Assessments to ensure your Supply Chain will meet your challenging and rapidly evolving requirements
  • Current state mapping, line balancing and support with adjusting to new volumes

What our customers say:

The participants really enjoyed the live, online Six Sigma course. The new format allowed us to mix participants from various regions (Europe & APAC) without any travel cost. The trainer was great and highly engaged. The course was the right mix of theory and practical exercises. Lots of the things we learned can be applied to improve our processes. Thank you, IF, for giving us the opportunity to continue developing our skills in project management & data analysis during this Covid-19 period which prevented face to face training sessions.

Véronique Tétaz, Group Continuous Improvement Vice President, Imerys

Contact us for more information about how we can support you.

Authored by: Beth Osborne MCIM CMktr, SMMT Industry Forum’s General Manager – Marketing and CX

Beth has held a number of senior strategic roles within a variety of technical industries and sectors. Beth is both a Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Digital Marketing Institute graduate, holding two professional diplomas in marketing as well as maintaining the highly revered chartered marketer status since 2014. At Industry Forum, Beth heads up the external communications function, overseeing the effective planning and implementation of all marketing communications, as well as holding overall accountability for the Sales and Marketing Intelligence and reporting function.

A recent survey, carried out by The Open University, found that half of all UK roles have been affected by the pandemic and that a change in skillset may be required for as many as five million employees. As such, a quarter of the UK workforce is taking part in online training to boost their employability.

In response to this, we have launched both virtual, instructor lead, courses as well as a range of self-directed, introductory ‘e-Learning’ modules, in order to provide a flexible approach to learning, as well as full certification. By investing heavily in the highest quality platforms, we can ensure that we continue to deliver relevant, world-class training across every manufacturing discipline, providing delegates with the same top-quality training that we also provide in person.

Our e-Learning programs consist of a number self-directed, bite-sized modules, providing key, basic information, and are an ideal starting point for employees with little, or no existing knowledge in the subject area, and who want a flexible approach to training. For those with more experience, virtual training is instructor-led and provides a similar experience to face-to-face courses, while reducing the effort and cost of learning for the employer.

Manufacturing employees are able to attend full courses in one session or pick and choose courses and modules, in quality and auditing, maintenance, team leadership, supply chain, new product introduction and project management, based on their specific needs and desired level of certification. Importantly, the courses we’re offering include training to support the latest government-funded NMCL supply chain support programme.

The following courses are suitable for any sector of manufacturing. Details regarding a number of Automotive and Aerospace specific courses can be found via

Virtual, instructor-led courses:

  • Core Tools Certification Training (APQP, FMEA, SPC, MSA and PPAP)
  • Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Training
  • Sigma Yellow Belt Training
  • Six Sigma Green Belt Training
  • Team Leader Essentials Training
  • New Product Introduction Web Briefing
  • New Product Introduction Essentials Training
  • NPI Project Management Essentials Training
  • Inventory Management Essentials
  • Materials Requirement Planning (MRP) Essentials
  • Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) Essentials

 ‘E-learning’, self-directed online modules:

  • APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
  • APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation & Distribution (CLTD)


What did the worms ever do for us?

Published April 2020 

Just speak to any parent of school age children right now, and they will tell you that keeping the kids interested in learning during lockdown, with all the distractions of the home can be challenging, at best. However, we think this is also a rare opportunity to encourage our children to explore a bustling world, teeming with life, from right by the back door!

One way to dive into a whole new and unexplored world, without even leaving the garden is to make a Wormery. This grants a VIP view of the wonderful work of worms. It’s also a really fun activity to do with children of all ages, whilst the sun shines!

Follow these easy steps and share pictures of your wacky underground worlds to @SMMTIF #ifwormery

Materials you will need:

  • 2l plastic drinks bottle (empty and clean)
  • Soil, Compost, Sand
  • Dark coloured plastic bag (a bin bag will do)
  • Scissors / Stanley knife
  • Water spray / watering can
  • Worm food: grated carrot, vegetable peelings, dead leaves, shredded newspaper

NB: Make sure everyone washes their hands carefully after handling worms, compost or soil.

What you need to do:

  1. Firstly, it’s time to hunt for a few worms! The kids will really enjoy this bit. And what better way to get some help with weeding the flower beds? From experience, we recommend that adults supervise any digging to make sure not to lose any of their favourite plants. It’s also worth having a good look under stones or just carefully dig a hole. The kids will be amazed how easy the worms are to find.
  2. Next, remove the label from the bottle and cut the top off. This is a job for an adult as it is fiddly and the bottle can be sharp once cut.
  3. Fill the bottle with alternating layers of sand, soil, sand, soil – around a couple of inches deep for each layer. Spray each layer with a small amount of water as you fill so it is damp before adding the next layer.
  4. Add a few worms to the top of the bottle and watch how quickly they dig and burrow down into the layers.
  5. Now, add the worm food to the top. You don’t need to push it into the soil; the worms will come and get it.
  6. Wrap the bottle with the dark coloured plastic bag (worms like it dark, as it would be if it were underground).
  7. Pop the Wormery in a warm place.
  8. Remove the bag to make observations of the Wormery and note the changes over time.

The worm’s job is to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. They also break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use (nitrates). When they eat, they leave behind “castings” that are a very valuable type of fertiliser. Worms are vital to healthy soil and are the superheroes of our gardens!

Top Tips for a Successful Wormery Experiment:

  • You can use the end of the bottle you’ve cut off as a funnel, although we’d still recommend filling your bottle in the garden where possible as you can’t avoid making a bit of a mess.
  • Don’t give the worms citrus fruits or onion, they don’t like the PH.
  • Put some tape over the cut edges of the bottle if they are sharp.
  • Cut a small slit in the top end of the bottle so you can use it as a lid to help keep the Wormery damp.
  • Make sure there is always food available for the worms and the contents are always damp to touch.
  • Watch out for the layers disappearing as the sand and soil mix together and channels appear where the worms burrow.
  • Build note taking and even drawing pictures of the Wormery into your daily routine; the kids will be amazed how quickly the worms get to work.
  • If you don’t have any sand (we used some from the sand pit), you can use different mediums to create your layers, such as shop bought compost, garden soil, dried leaves (crumbled up) or grass clippings.
  • After a week, release your worms back into the garden.
  • You can reuse your Wormery and experiment with different layers.

Remember to tweet us pictures of your wonderful underground worlds @SMMTIF using #IFWORMERY

Authored by: Beth Osborne MCIM CMktr, SMMT Industry Forum’s Head of Marketing

Beth has held a number of senior strategic roles within a variety of technical industries and sectors. Beth is both a Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Digital Marketing Institute graduate, holding two professional diplomas in marketing as well as maintaining the highly revered chartered marketer status since 2014. At Industry Forum, Beth heads up the external communications function, overseeing the effective planning and implementation of all marketing communications, as well as holding overall accountability for the Sales and Marketing Intelligence and reporting function. 

Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) is a strategy for reducing lead-times across all functions of an organisation. The resulting improvements in speed and responsiveness increase the organisation’s agility and responsiveness, resulting in competitive advantage.
Many well-known Lean Manufacturing tools have been developed for high volume/low variety, or ‘mass production’ environments. Think of techniques such a Pull Systems, Kanban, Line Balancing and Heijunka for instance, often applied to fast moving production lines. However, these tools often do not translate well to low volume/high variety environments, which require short batch runs, higher levels of customisation and fast response to changes in customer demand.
For businesses facing the challenge of meeting increased customisation and speed, QRM is a strategy which relentlessly focuses on reducing lead-time both on the shop floor and in the office operations. QRM strategy comprises of 4 core concepts; The power of time, Organisation structure, System dynamics, Enterprise wide application.
Quick Response Manufacturing applies to every aspect of an organisation, is singular in its focus and simple to understand – generating competitive advantage through relentless reduction of lead-time.
Industry Forum has now partnered with The QRM Institute, which provides four levels of training and certification in QRM to offer the only QRM Silver Course® in the UK. The QRM Institute Silver ® Course combines theoretical knowledge of QRM principles, with practical applications through exercises and simulations. It illustrates the transformation of a cost-centric traditional organization (shop floor or support services) into an agile QRM-cell organization, focused on the reduction of the lead time.
The QRM approach is not about working faster, but about working better together. In order to simplify operations and streamline the company’s processes – both internally and externally (suppliers and customers) – by creating a motivating and sustainable collaborative dynamic. 
The course, which is suitable for a great number of roles within the manufacturing environment, enables attendees to respond better to the challenges and demands of customers who are moving towards high mix / low volume environments.

During my career, I have had the privilege to work for a major proactive OEM that has been a significant driving factor in the advancement and development of aerospace quality standards, one of which is AS9145 – Aerospace Series – Requirements for Advanced Product Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process.

There have been a number of repeat and common issues that I have seen regarding the APQP/PPAP process, of which were neither commodity or sector dependent. I am highlighting these issues to help suppliers avoid falling into these common traps.

1. Plan

I will start with a quote from Benjamin Franklin:

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.

This is very true when it comes to APQP and PPAP. During reviews of PPAP, it soon becomes apparent that the creation of the PPAP document was an afterthought. The philosophy of APQP and PPAP is that the PPAP documents are created during the APQP process and not a case of “let’s create all these documents today so we can submit to the customer”.

If APQP is done correctly, then you have created a plan by using the knowledge of a cross-functional team. This plan will allow you to deliver all the required deliverables.  APQP ensures that you are doing the right things (DFMEA, PFMEA, MSA etc.) at the right time within the process, with the right people for the right reasons.

If APQP has not been planned appropriately then tell-tale signs start to appear within the PPAP submission. It is important to understand the timeline behind the documents created.

For example, if a drawing was released as a finished drawing in January 2019 and updated due to a modification in February 2019, we would need to review the dates of the documents within the submission. If the DFMEA was created in March 2019, then it was created too late to achieve its true purpose and the supplier has missed a golden opportunity to improve the design of the product prior to design release. DFMEA considerations would not have been available for the original drawing release or its first update

Also, another example is when the Control Plan is created prior to the PFMEA.  When I see these types of issues, it leads me to ask the supplier lots of questions to identify if they have undertaken an effective APQP program or just created a PPAP as a ‘tick box exercise’.

2. ‘All the chapters in the story must be from the same book’. Let me explain…

The PPAP submission is like a story; in essence, you are telling the story of the creation of this part and the process that makes it. All the bits of information need to tie up. For example, if a drawing has a dimension that is measured with a height gauge. When I review element 6 within the PPAP file – Measurement System Analysis, I would expect to see a MSA study for the height gauge measurement system. In reality, what I have seen on a number of occasions is suppliers providing a data dump of all the MSAs they have undertaken. Then as a reviewer, I need to work out which are valid and which are not.

In one example, a height gauge was used but a MSA study was provided for a shadowgraph. On closer examination of the PPAP documents, it was determined that a shadowgraph was not listed anywhere within the Control Plan.

3. If you have a problem, know what you are doing to fix it.

If the PPAP file is not complete or contains discrepancies when making the PPAP submission, an action plan detailing how the submission will be completed/corrected should be included.

The submission warrant in AS9145, also called the Production Part Approval Process Approval Form contains the following statement:

‘I, the supplier, submit this PPAP Approval form as declaration of having met all applicable requirements of the 9145 standard, except as noted…’

What this means is that as a supplier, you are aware of issues or non-compliance with the standard and have a closing action plan which is resourced with completion dates. The approach I have seen too often is that the supplier submits their PPAP pack and waits for the review/approval authority to list and report the issues found.

Often, the supplier only acts on the issues highlighted by the review/approval authority, which is clear evidence that the supplier is not accepting responsibility for the parts they have designed (if design responsible), and the associated manufacturing process they have developed. The supplier is best placed to know what issues and risks they carry, and as such, what they are going to do to resolve them. The onus is on the supplier to identify all issues and to create an appropriate closing action plan.

Just a thought; if the review/approval authority signs off the PPAP file with discrepancies within it, that on its own does not resolve the discrepancies in the file. The customer’s signature on the approval form does not make the file contents right; the corrective action plan does!

4. Not submitting on time is not an option

Consider the following:

A submission date has been given to the supplier by the customer’s project management team at the start of the programme of work, and this date has been agreed by all the parties involved in the project (customer and supplier side). The agreed date is fast approaching but the supplier knows that they will not have everything done on time. So the supplier decides not to submit on the agreed date but carries on undertaking all the required actions to submit a fully complete and acceptable submission. Meanwhile, the customer is expecting the submission on a certain date.

Imagine you are the project team manager responsible for a completely new engine; think of all the thousands of parts that require PPAP. The part in question is just one of many thousands and as such you, the project manager have a real need to understand the status of each of the parts. If the supplier does not submit on time, you do not know whether or not the supplier has a serious problem.

The expectation is that the supplier submits on time so that there is a stake in the ground and everyone (your company and your customer) knows how the project is progressing.

If you take on board the pointers above then it will help you to deliver a successful APQP programme and PPAP submission.

– February 2020 authored by Andrea Goddard

A Bit More About Andrea

For the past two years, Andrea has been working as a Senior Consultant for Industry Forum specialising in the aerospace sector and associated industry standards. Prior to Industry Forum, Andrea worked for Rolls-Royce Ltd in various manufacturing engineering positions.  Andrea was the European PPAP Champion and part of the team that implemented the Rolls-Royce version of APQP & PPAP (a forerunner to AS9145).

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