The cloud-based PLM firm Arena Solutions has introduced Arena Quality, a PLM tool that helps the engineering and manufacturing team to rapidly identify, capture, collaborate, and resolve product quality problems. As the auto industry has shown us lately, a quality stitch in time can deliver considerable savings.
Arena Quality connects the quality processes directly to the product record. This provides everyone on the team with complete visibility into quality issues. Engineering, operations, and the supply chain can participate in problem resolution, which can drive continuous improvement. Also, since the quality processes are bound to the product record, users will be audit-ready for ISO, the FDA, and other regulatory organizations.
The importance of quality hit home with manufacturers in the 1980s when Japan’s superior quality started to dominate a wide range of market segments, particularly automotive. Today, discrete engineering and manufacturing teams strive for Japanese-style continuous improvement. The goal is to consistently reach ever-higher quality. To accomplish this, companies need ever-stronger quality tools and processes.
Arena Quality was designed to help design engineers increase time to market without sacrificing quality. “We designed Arena Quality so users can create their own form for any quality process by using a templating model,” Steve Chalgren, vice president of product management and strategy at Arena Solutions, told Design News. “Users can build the quality templates, assign them to appropriate team members, and add preventive action and corrective action.”
The tool is also designed to manage quality issues after production. “You can link your product records to complaints and build a story of the product,” Chalgren told us. “Say there is something wrong with the computer. That gets flagged. The next step might be to look for the real cause. It’s not really the computer, but the battery. So the battery gets added and flagged. Then you find it’s really the recharging circuits.” Chalgren noted this process -- basically the five whys -- is embedded in the quality tool. The quality flag remains on the product record until the quality issue has been resolved.
One of the important functions of the tool is to put the details of the problem and the steps to its resolution onto the product record. “You come back two years later and someone who wasn’t involved in the design and production of the product can see all of the steps,” said Chalgren. “You can read the story and follow it from the computer to the battery to the recharge circuit. We have the full audit trail.”