Driving down the cost of poor quality of aerospace
The Impesq system shines a light on the causes of poor quality and then helps reduce it by identifying the most important problems to solve and what training is required.
Impcross is a leading UK engineering company that uses its extensive knowledge, experience, equipment and technology to provide the global aerospace industry with highly competitive, quality volume manufacturing.
The Impesq application was originally conceived and built by Steve Arnold, the operations director, using Microsoft Excel. The platform is now a fully featured web application which forms the cornerstone of the quality management system that Impcross uses to manage waste out of its business.
The original Excel application, whilst a great solution, required the original architect to maintain it, was not flexible, and was constraining the business’ growth potential. It could not keep up with the fluid nature of the work and the growing demands of the business.
The Excel model that Impcross developed implemented the PFMEA continuous improvement methodology. Process Failure Mode Effect Analysis (PFMEA) provides a framework for mapping out the processes of the businesses and then identifying and evaluating the potential failures that can occur. Most companies use spreadsheets for this but they are unwieldy and a strict 2D matrix doesn’t easily reflect the tree structure that is required to model the processes steps, effects and problems accurately.
However, the Excel model went well beyond anything that other existing PFMEA implementations provided.
It also allowed the capture of non-conformance records (NCR), or incident reports, that are produced whenever a problem is encountered on the shop floor. These NCRs contain important information about where and when the issue occurred and what the team will do to contain it, resolve it, and prevent it happening again. NCR events that occur on the shop floor can be directly linked to the operator, the machine and the process by connecting NCR records to operators’ training records. The Impesq system creates a magic triangle between the three key areas of process, NCR and training, something that no other system has achieved.
The Impesq Excel model has been transformed into an innovative, scalable and flexible web application. It has a unique process view which presents each element as a card in a treeview structure. The application has not only transformed the way the team work together but it has been admired and coveted by customers. The solution is helping Impcross identify waste quicker than ever and then ensures that the team complete the actions required to prevent it recurring.
We took the principles of the Excel model and built the web application from the ground up. It required some creative design thinking in order to make the process mapping screen intuitive to use and the business logic was at times complex to implement but the end result has been a great success.
Now that the Impesq solution is a modern web application rather than a complex Excel model, it means that anyone with the appropriate permissions can maintain it. NCRs are recorded on the shop floor and training records automatically update to reflect events in real-time. For example, the system can automatically identify training requirements for operators, or flag up recurring issues that are causing the business the most waste.
The team can now spend their time on resolving the top priority issues instead of maintaining spreadsheets or spending hours compiling reports. Audits are a breeze now that the system is fully digitised and several auditors have expressed their admiration for the system.
The solution has been so successful, and so admired by those that see it that it is being made available to other companies to use in their own businesses. The vision for the application from the outset was for it to be used as a product in any sector where PFMEA is used to eradicate waste. In addition to the aerospace sector, interest has been received from the healthcare and engineering sectors.
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