World Class Factory Audits That Include Your Customers

World Class Factory Audits That Include Your Customers

Do you have the confidence in your product to invite a client to your factory floor to participate in an audit of your product? There are three steps to develop the confidence to take this step:

• Creation of a procedure with and a record of audit attributes and repeat demerit score of 5 or less.

• Practicing for the audit

• Customer participation on audit day

Many companies perceive their products to be “best in class”. Is management prepared to put their reputation on the line with the participation of a major customers in a factory product audit? If yes; read on to understand how the time of action evolved at a major HVAC manufacturing factory.

Step 1 – Procedure and Audit Attribute Record Form

A proven procedure and audit check sheet needs to be produced. Selection of the product attributes to audit should combine customer perception, basic assembly activities and engineering specifications and sales/marketing attributes.

The Procedure

The procedure should follow current company procedure format:

1. An introduction that focuses on the time of action goals.

2. The audit frequency

3. the time of action owner. The audit course of action should be owned by the internal group responsible for Quality Assurance. It is important to walk before taking the jump to invite a client to participate in an audit. It may take several years of internal auditing, measurement and corrective action before offering an invitation to a customer. The internal audit trend will tell you when it is appropriate.

4. The corrective action course of action, charting and communication of audit results

5. The scoring strategy

For the AUDIT course of action to be a valuable tool and measure of course of action improvement it must be based upon a demerit scoring system. The scoring is subjective. (Experience has shown that over time the auditors become tougher in their scoring). The audit attributes should be limited to what an audit team can accomplish in an hour. The audit attribute list should include current customer complaints, meaningful assembly inspection repeat findings and engineering and sales and marketing specifications.

A Finding is a condition which is not considered good practice or that would impact customer perceived quality or does not meet the proven specifications and product requirements

1. minor point Finding – One (1) demerit for any finding not considered good practice or that would impact perceived quality but would not be noticed by the customer or affect the intended use of the product.

2. Minor Finding – Five (5) demerits for any finding which would probably be noticed by the installing technician but would not make the customer dissatisfied, could consequence in a minor warranty claim.

3. meaningful Finding – Ten (10) demerits are to be taken for any finding which would be noticed by the installing technician and customer, causing concern and possible dissatisfaction and would consequence in a warranty claim.

4. Major Finding – Twenty-five (25) demerits for any finding which would definitely be noticed or reported to the customer and w9ould consequence ina unit malfunction during start-up or the warranty period.

5. Serious Finding – Fifty (50) demerit points for any finding that would generate a major service problem or a possible safety danger.

Ratings of 0-4 demerits, Excellent product; 5-14 demerits, Good product; 15-24 demerits, Fair product; 25 or more demerits, Unsatisfactory product.

Step 2 – Practicing For the Day


the time of action must start with communicating the plan and strategy of ultimately involving customers who buy the product. The communication should go to first the businesses management followed by the general salary and hourly staff using the businesses normal in place communication means. The communication should include factory leaders, the production staff and the union leadership (where applicable). It must stress that the ultimate objective is product improvement and customer exposure to the manufacturing team’s pride in building a quality product, not finger pointing or grading of the production team’s performance. Often, problems uncovered during an audit are not in the control of the factory staff. An audit finding may be tied to a supplier, a resource or and engineering issue.

Audit course of action

Attaining the goal of client participation depends on constant practice, course of action refinement and corrective action. Each audit should begin with the chosen auditors gathering to review the audit course of action and divide into 3 or 4 teams, each team with a leader/documenter. It is important to communicate to the group audit etiquette. Depending upon the findings, no action may be required. There may be a finding that warrants stopping of production to address the condition observed. In some situations it could require that all finished inventory be unpackaged and examined and reworked if the condition observed is serious. In other situations it may require contacting the owners or installers using a field alert to ensure the problem observed is corrected.

Audit Participants; It may not seem obvious, but the first associate audits should be conducted by those responsible for leading the quality course of action within the business. The purpose of the first several audits should focus on developing the audit course of action, understand what tools, drawings and order copies that will be needed and where to locate them once an end of line unit is chosen for examination. Each audit should include new faces from the sustain roles, Engineering, Marketing, Procurement, Production Control, Drafting, Finance, Technical Service, Union Leadership (where applicable). At some point Senior Management and Field Sales should be brought in to participate in an audit before an invitation is made to a customer.

Step 3 – Customer Audit Participation

Audit scores have been consistently below a total score of 5 demerit points. The day has arrived to invite a customer to participate in a factory product audit. Marketing should determine who the customer should be. A date is set, the staff and other personnel that will be involved are alerted and the invitation is officially extended.

It may sound comparatively easy as described in the short use above but there is a substantial amount of work that must take place in preparation for a customer participation audit.

1. Don’t pick a day that is near the end of the month or end of a quarter when the push is on to meet managements shipping goals.

2. The day’s event should be planned with as much detail as possible. The audit has great possible to be used as a marketing and sales opportunity with the customer and beyond.

3. The audit activity preparation should be identical to those conducted prior to this special day.

Take pictures. proportion the events success internally, locally and in marketing materials as appropriate. Consider already a press release.

Good Luck..It will be a rewarding and advantageous course of action for the business and the customer.

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