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2010-01-01

Navistar uses 'Quality Inspection Software'

Thanks to a Six Sigma project and new Quality Inspection Software system that helps collect quality data in real-time, Navistar’s Chatham, Ontario, plant has forged a path to in-process quality improvement. “Navistar has made a substantial commitment to improving quality and customer service,“ says Rick Burns, the master black belt in charge of the Chatham implementation. “The Six Sigma initiative has refocused our efforts on making sure that we produce the best heavy trucks in the Word.“

Six Sigma projects rely heavily on statistical metrics to help lead teams to the areas that will benefit the most from process improvements. These “opportunities“ are attacked to find the root causes of quality problems. Navistar produces a full line of heavy trucks. The company’s Chatham plant manufactures premium conventional and severe service trucks.

Navistar’s Chatham facility developed an in-house system that helps collect quality data, but it couldn’t trace the location of defects to their X and Y coordinates on panels or within subcomponents. A search began to find a system that would provide this functionality. Twelve potential software companies were benchmarked through the problem-solving and decision making methodology to determine the best fit.

Navistar shopfloor Navistar chose ATS Inspect from ATS International, which has created quality systems for such clients as Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA, MAN Trucks Austria and Rolls-Royce Aerospace in the UK. ATS Inspect consists of several configurable application modules. The system visually presents products to in-line assemblers and inspectors at various points on the plant floor. Touch screen or stylus entry-no keyboard required-allows fast accurate capture of quality information by serialized product. Defect location may be stored with a product image for graphical representation. The Layout Manager module allows users to design each input screen to reflex the operating environment at each workstation. Functional defects not requiring X-Y coordinate capture can also be entered into the system.

Information about the current production now is available to anyone on the Navistar intranet via an Internet browser. Because the data collected is real-time, reaction to production and quality problems is immediate. Navistar also elected to purchase the Event Alert Service module, which may alert personnel via pager, e-mail or displays in the plant based on variable data such as number of defects per unit, defects per thousand or even safety concerns.

The system was installed and functional within weeks. Inspectors had no problem learning the new system with its fast, customizable input and intuitive design. ”When we first discovered ATS Inspect, we thought the ability to pinpoint the actual location of certain defects, especially paint, was the greatest benefit,” says Burns. “But after using the system for a few months, it became clear that this function is secondary to the ability to analyze the statistical information immediately. The Event Alert Service will allow us to automate the notification process instead of trying to track down the appropriate parties when there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately,” he adds.

The system has proved so successful that Navistar is rolling our globally across 36 plants.


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