The Situation

The company works in the automotive industry, it is the leader in its field with a long history in the market and has always been considered a benchmark.

The company has production units in Europe, America and Oceania and sales representatives on 5 continents.

The turnover is constantly growing and is mainly aimed at the foreign market. Its strengths are strong technological innovation, technical and aesthetic quality and time to market.

The problem

Recently, the company’s customers have introduced more modern and stringent quality standards, and the company has been struggling with its relationship with customers.

Product quality problems have emerged, with an increase in “non-compliances” and warranty interventions for end customers and a consequent increase in repair costs.

To the continuous “non-compliances” highlighted by customers, the company gave ineffective and late responses, aimed only at resolving the emergency, without an action plan to resolve the real problem. Customers began to question supply contracts, considering order cuts and the possibility of changing suppliers.

Audits at customers and certification bodies have highlighted a lack of management of guarantees, failure to comply with company procedures and a rift between business entities.

It was essential for business continuity to review the entire production process to improve product quality standards, intervening on the entire end-to-end process.

The goals

A Contract Manager was called in to review the quality management of the product and process areas, in agreement with the company’s CEO who is showing strong support and commitment. A team of quality managers was identified to manage the intervention.

The Contract Manager’s aims were:

  • To immediately take up the role of Quality Manager to optimize product and process quality standards.
  • To define the quality improvement plan, with the aim of achieving excellence (WCM) and recovering the customers’ confidence.
  • To check and oversee the Quality System, relationships with internal functions and external entities, and ensure a proper interaction between the areas involved (product development purchasing, manufacturing, suppliers and customers).
  • Train a qualified resource to ensure continuity and fully assume the role at the end of the temporary management assignment.
  • The first action was to ensure that customers received products that complied with the standards, this was achieved thanks to a thorough control at the end of the assembly lines.
  • Having ensured compliance and built a database of issues, we moved on to troubleshooting, intervening both with the suppliers and on the internal production process.
  • Key customers were visited, and the company’s quality issues were noted down. Problems were taken care of and an excellent relationship was established on both a technical and relational level.
  • Priority was given to eradicating customer nonconformities using problem solving as a standard (8D, 5why, Ishikawa diagrams).
  • A major intervention was required on suppliers, to ensure quality supplies and adherence to delivery schedules, with surprising feedback in terms of cultural and technical growth in supplier selection.
  • Monitoring of the Quality System in terms of IATF certification and review and adherence to company procedures.
  • Introduced KPIs and visual management.

The result of the intervention can be summed up in the clients’ recognition that the company had changed on a qualitative, relational, and cultural level.

Key customers have moved from considering the end of the business relationship to viewing the company as a preferred partner for current and future projects.

IATF16949 certification was obtained and then confirmed, staff were trained on problem solving methodologies, and kaizen activities were carried out with clear benefits on product quality.