Implementing a Global Advanced Quality Audit Program at GKN Driveline a Tier 1 Supplier

By ,

This case study was recently presented at the AIAG Quality Summit in Detroit, Michigan, USA. You can view the slides here:

Please feel free to contact me at info@nimonik.com for any questions related to implementing our mobile auditing solution

In 2016, Nimonik was approached by GKN Driveline to help them implement a global audit system on mobile devices for their 49 facilities in 20 countries. Nimonik has worked with automotive companies in the past, but only in the capacity of helping them stay informed of environmental, health and safety regulatory information and ensure compliance to those standards. GKN Driveline wanted to ensure their 49 facilities met their internal and external advanced quality requirements.

This led us to take a closer look at the automotive industry and quickly learn of its many complex parts.

In our day-to-day lives, we take many things for granted – police, firemen, clean water, safe cars and many more things that we rely on. However, behind things like safe cars there are millions of people working to meet changing industry standards; the global supply chain for the automotive industry is probably the most complex in the world. GKN Driveline, a Tier 1 Supplier, has over 2000 suppliers around the world along with over 29,000 employees. Ensuring that both GKN Driveline and their suppliers meet automotive standards, government regulations and client requirements is an immense challenge.

Prior to Nimonik, GKN attempted to manage with a combination of pen, paper, and Excel. In 2016, GKN Driveline decided to implement a new advanced quality program and leverage mobile technology to dramatically increase efficiency, reduce error and better communicate issues across their large organization. This was driven by internal continuous improvement, implementing lessons learned through these reviews, along with adapting to new automotive standards such as IATF 16949 (read more about auditing IATF 16949 here).

One of the challenges GKN Driveline had was ensuring their staff understood the standards they had to respect. Too often, quality manuals are lengthy documents that sit on the shelf. Instead, GKN Driveline wanted to convert their documentation into an actionable and auditable list of requirements that could be easily accessed on mobile devices. When accessing a requirement, the specific standards and documents were available online, enabling users to quickly review the context and source of the requirement. This attachment of context to an audit question greatly increased comprehension and eliminated the need to search through large quality manuals.

GKN Driveline worked to develop a series of specific audit protocols that could be deployed across their operations. The goal with these was to keep the questions simple and easy to understand and to keep the format for the audit questions standard across the operations. One item that has hobbled many audit programs are long complex sentences and forms that requires tremendous training to use. These audit protocols were designed to be easy to pick up with and begin quickly, available in multiple languages.

Despite many efforts to keep the audit forms simple, significant resources were devoted to training. In the medical profession, the expression is “See one, do one, teach one”. This approach was emulated at various locations where GKN Driveline and Nimonik organized training sessions for local internal auditors to see the system in action, then actually perform an audit and then teach each other the ins-and-outs of using the system. This process of showing and then doing, helped reinforce the functionalities of the systems and the content of the audit protocols. It also helped contextualize the content to the local language as the participants were able to discuss and repeat the process in their language.

To help the facilities set audit schedules in the software and assist with any technical issues, GKN Driveline leveraged their clusters that already assist facilities. Together, we established a central IT support desk providing two distinct tiers of service. A first tier of technical support is provided to users by GKN Driveline for items such as password resets, access to the correct location and audits schedules, and basic user troubleshooting. A second tier of technical support is provided by Nimonik for issues related to the functionality for the software, synchronization of data and other items that inevitably arise and are related to the programming of the system. This has helped distribute the work between the facilities, the clusters and the head office of GKN Driveline and has helped reduce the technical support costs from GKN Driveline to Nimonik.

One year later, the program has continued to show the fruits of its success. Corrective actions are being identified faster and facilities are taking action more quickly. The facilities have established rigorous audit schedules and are adhering more closely to them. Head office has clear visibility across all of their locations and are now preparing to roll-out new audit protocols, which the supplier audit team is preparing to begin auditing their suppliers on the Nimonik system. The main benefits of this project are clear: higher efficiency, better communication across the organization and a standardization of standards and their application for all of the facilities.

Please feel free to contact me at info@nimonik.com for any questions related to implementing our mobile auditing solution.