The landmark Global Quality Survey conducted in-depth interviews with key leaders at automotive manufacturers and suppliers in China and the NAFTA region, along with supply chain quality experts, to evaluate the current state of quality and explore how quality should be measured and improved in the future. Participants believe that there are currently too many external quality metrics with misaligned targets and objectives, so companies tend to get focused on the quality problem of the moment.
The respondents believe the current measurement system favors tracking lagging quality issues, which can skew quality data and incorrectly guide decisions. They suggest replacing current quality tracking metrics with ones that identify leading indicators of quality, such as design and process. In the future, the most successful organizations will use the right quality measurement tools, effectively mitigate risk and have a culture that drives out fear.
To get to the next generation of quality, the respondents advocate an industry culture shift toward emphasizing the opportunities of good quality in place of today's hyper-focus on avoiding poor quality. They suggest replacing current programs that punish for bad quality with new programs that recognize and reward good quality. The survey also points to the need for an internal culture shift at companies, whereby quality and purchasing departments are aligned so that the goal is to reduce total cost, not just purchase order costs. Many factors will drive the future of quality improvement, but sourcing strategies, reward and recognition, warranty and vehicle reliability will continue to play dominant roles.
The study also suggests that automotive companies need to align business objectives around their quality philosophy in order to deliver continuous improvement, a concept that conflicts with traditional approaches to quality management. Additionally, the study recommends that the automotive industry collaborate with other manufacturing sectors to benchmark and generate new solutions for improving quality. Automotive quality methods have been adopted by the pharmaceutical, aerospace and defense industries, and additional collaboration will help identify where other harmonized processes can be adopted.
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