Rethinking Quality in a Digital Age?

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Rethinking Quality in a Digital Age?

Autonomous driving has introduced sophisticated new components and systems, which run under a heavy load of distributed embedded software and electronics. Without proper safeguards, these highly vulnerable systems could become the Achilles’ heel of next-generation vehicle design.

While the auto industry has proved itself adept at managing traditional quality-related risks in the past, this time may be different. Autonomous vehicles and other innovations that rely on advanced electronics and software require new robust quality management systems and advanced tools and methods capable of preventive monitoring and control.

The new functional capabilities of automakers creates an impact on quality of departments to assume a leading role that will include:

  • Taking steps to reduce late-stage design changes.
  • Stabilizing the supply chain, architecture and functionality performance.
  • Reducing warranty problems and associated liability damages.

Automakers needs to manage complexity closely, and monitor it during the product development and production stages, and methods to achieve standardized and consistent results. Given the shift from a mechanical footing to an approach based on electronics and software, the future automotive quality-management paradigm must in the future encompass preventive digital quality controls. Today’s conventional improvement and visual quality management methods cannot handle with these new challenges.

The invention of advance technologies has tripled product recalls over the past years, a clear sign of the increasing complexity of new products has emerged. What’s more, traditional problem-solving does not support the root cause analyses in these cases because of the intermittent nature of failures that these complicated integrated systems exhibit.

Quality-to-market

“Quality-to-market” is an innovative approach for assuring the reliability of highly complex electronics- and software-driven technologies. Its core philosophy is that quality ultimately drives time and cost considerations. Quality to market concentrates on start-of-production delays and overspending on deliveries, as well as reliability issues.

Automakers and Tier 1 suppliers have always focused on the quality of products and systems, but time and cost issues have dominated their processes and the decisions made in executive boardrooms.

Quality organizations, on the other hand, have concentrated on single problems or the provision of methodical support. To establish a balanced link among quality, time and cost, companies need to shift to quality-to-market as a guiding management paradigm, which covers the entire extended supply chain.

Research reveals that the number and proportion of software-related recalls in the U.S. has increased steadily — unmistakable evidence that the auto industry is not ready for this rapid influx of technology. The complexity involved in embedding new technologies in existing vehicles has raised new challenges. Accordingly, companies which are into such technologies has to adjust with new processes of digital quality controls, technical risk management and quality predictive systems.

Faster problem-solving

Transitioning to this new paradigm will require a fundamental change in mindset that enables the company’s central quality function to perform as a neutral authority, delivering a transparent and traceable quality control “dashboard.”

One example would involve the collection of field failure data into a common structure in a “data lake” to classify failure patterns or other algorithms, enabling companies to solve technical problems faster.

A collaborative and fully transparent supplier management approach will help companies identify and resolve bottlenecks faster. Organizations have to map product field and production data directly to new development cycles, which will help trade to be better, smarter and more cost-efficient.

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