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The state of automotive quality

Written by: Karleen Radke

The state of automotive quality

The global automotive industry is currently undergoing a period of rapid changes and growth, thanks to cutting-edge technology. As electric and autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning continue to disrupt the industry, these recent technological advancements and increasing market needs present manufacturers with an opportunity to benefit from this wide-ranging industrial transformation.

As we drive forward in the years to come, automotive manufacturers will need to consider how to integrate these technological innovations into their products, while keeping up with consumer demands and maintaining compliance with automotive quality standards. Below, we’ll discuss the current state of automotive quality before providing a best practice solution for maintaining high quality in the midst of disruption today.

The Current State of Automotive Quality

The automotive industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with continued progress being predicted across the globe. Consider how far the automotive sector has come since the global economic downturn of the late 2000s. Profits and sales for automotive manufacturers have improved substantially since that time. Looking to the future, global vehicle production is expected to exceed 110 million by 2025, while profits for automakers are forecasted to rise by about 50 percent, according to McKinsey.

What Quality 4.0 Means for the Automotive Industry

While these rapid changes present companies an exciting opportunity to innovate, this record growth has presented the automotive supply chain with unique challenges. From increased regulations to improved safety standards, technological advancements have transformed consumer expectations and demands for faster, better, and enhanced offerings.

The advent of Quality 4.0 magnifies these pressures. Quality 4.0 is the application of Industry 4.0’s developing technological advancements that improve conventional techniques in quality management. McKinsey expects that this Fourth Industrial Revolution will generate process efficiencies and drastically reshape the relationships between suppliers, manufacturers, and customers — even the relationship humans have with the products themselves.

As digital and physical systems merge, automotive production will undoubtedly transform. According to the Center for Automotive Research, there will be a boost in automation as consumers demand more connectivity, enhanced driver support, improved powertrains, alternative engines, and better fuel efficiency. Automotive companies will increasingly rely on new technology such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) for production parts and tooling, autonomous robots for routine tasks, simulations that mirror the physical world, and cloud-based, connected systems with embedded computing capabilities to support real-time responses and decision making.

As a result of this Fourth Industrial Revolution, shorter technology cycles, the pressure to quickly innovate, and the need for higher worker efficiency will manifest. With this process evolution considered, manufacturers will need to seek a holistic solution to consolidate processes in one platform to keep all these innovations aligned to maintain compliance and keep production running smoothly.

Maintaining Compliance Amongst Innovation and Growth

In light of these innovations and growth, it’s never been more imperative for automakers to keep up with compliance measures and safety considerations set by regulatory agencies and internal quality management guidelines. Most automotive manufacturers recognize and implement quality management systems to support standards such as ISO 9001 and IATF 16949. Within the automotive industry specifically, the most recent IATF 16949:2016 has been firmly established as one of the most widely used global standards in quality management systems.

Compliance, however, can come with a high cost of quality. According to Deloitte, most automotive companies estimate they invest over $100,000 and at least 116 workdays per site annually on quality management system compliance. However, by reducing redundancy and complexity requirements in automotive quality management systems, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers also estimate that the industry could achieve cost savings of up to $3.5 billion.

To not only achieve and maintain IATF 16949 certification, but also reduce the cost of quality, it’s crucial to apply risk-based thinking and proactively consider potential threats at every level of the supply chain. That’s where creating a culture of quality will be imperative for customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, waste reduction, and defect prevention.

Automotive Quality Management Software

In today’s hypercompetitive global marketplace, automakers must be able to deliver real-time metrics, deploy technology successfully, and develop a framework for identifying, quantifying, prioritizing, and tracking operational risk. In order to do so, companies must make strategic decisions to sustain success and industry growth in the long-term future, which includes automating core quality management processes into an integrated quality management tool.

Enterprise quality management software (EQMS) can help automotive manufacturers go beyond simply meeting IATF industry standards to providing solutions to streamline processes, eliminate redundancies, reduce waste, and improve visibility. With an automotive-focused EQMS that includes document control, audits, analytics, CAPA workflows, training, and supplier quality functions, as well as quality-focused SPC, PPAP, and FMEA, you can maintain your place at the top of the preferred vendor list.

Contact IQS today to learn more or to request a demo of our automotive quality solutions.

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