What is a Layered Process Audit?
The Layered Process Audit (LPA) is a quality management system in manufacturing. Its application is intended to minimise critical risks in production such as rework, customer complaints, costly product recalls and damage to reputation. To ensure that high-risk production steps do not deviate from established specifications, a Layered Process Audit assigns the same set of audits to different "layers" of auditors.
These topics are covered in this article:
1. Why Layered Process Audits should be implemented
2. 3 main components of a multi-stage process audit
3. A digital solution for implementing LPA in manufacturing
Why implement Layered Process Audits?
Manufacturing companies can benefit from the following advantages through multistage process audits:
- Reduction of product variations
- Greater discipline in adhering to standard operating procedures
- Less material waste, rejects, rework and rejected parts
- support of the "buy-in" of production personnel for the quality culture
- Better communication between employees and management
- General improvement of the production ecosystem
- Higher efficiency with cost reductions
3 Main components of a multi-stage process audit
The implementation of a multi-level Layered Process Audit program requires a coordinated agreement within a company. This is the only way to maintain consistent quality through conformity at every stage of production. The 3 main components of multistage process audits are as follows:
- One layer of auditors
The aim of a Layered Process Audit is to double-check whether the processes are actually being adhered to. This ensures that problems of non-compliance are corrected immediately. Assigned auditors proactively perform identical inspections using the same layered process audit checklist to identify and correct inefficiencies in production. Layered process audits are typically assigned to shift managers (for daily inspections) and middle/upper management (for weekly or monthly inspections).
- One layer of audits
A one-step process audit checklist is used throughout the planned assessments. Ideally, it is created in cooperation with the assigned auditors' shift. A layered process audit checklist is designed to be short and easy to answer, for easier and faster reporting.
- Audit reporting, follow-up and containment
Nonconformity and the corresponding corrective actions are then reviewed to ensure that the existing processes are effective to counter future problems.
Many manufacturing quality auditors use LPA software to manage documentation and accounting so that they can better track the status of corrective actions.
The collected audit reports are analysed at the end to get an overview of trends that affect production. Immediate reporting of deviations and the implementation of corrective measures help to minimise the impact on production and prevent future deviations.
A digital solution that facilitates the implementation of LPA in manufacturing
A layered process audit system requires an efficient system to record and manage the data from a multistage process audit. The basis for a successful implementation is the optimal use of time and resources within the quality team and throughout the company. Using Lumiform's Layered Process Audit Layered software, auditors can address the following challenges:
- Uncoordinated planning
Regular multistage process audits, which are to be completed per shift, week or month, can be forgotten. The scheduling feature reminds quality auditors when a multistage process audit schedule is due and indicates the time window in which an LPA should be completed.
- Audits not completed
Audits can be perceived as a nuisance, which is why they are not given priority in day-to-day business in production. Lumiform promotes audit completion through its real-time reporting capability. The scheduling feature also shows managers if audits are overdue. Besides, each layered process audit checklist can be conveniently completed anytime, anywhere via a mobile device.
- Continuing non-conformity
Nonconformity can be overlooked if it is not reported and corrected. With the Lumiform App, it is possible to take photos and notes via a mobile device to capture any non-compliance found immediately. Besides, problems can be assigned immediate action with the appropriate urgency and deadline.
- No follow-up or verification
Paper-based audits are filed upon completion and later manually retrieved for review, thus losing a lot of time that could be better used for corrective action in case of nonconformities. Lumiform's layered process audits software can automatically generate reports and share them with other team members and business stakeholders via mobile devices or the desktop.
- Disorganised records
Lumiform enables quality managers to fill out LPAs via mobile devices and then instantly generate CEO-ready reports that are automatically organised and secured in the cloud and accessible anytime, anywhere.
- No continuous process improvement
Paper-based audits must be manually organised, reviewed and recorded to collect enough data for analysis. With Lumiform's analysis feature, quality staff can quickly review frequently failed checks to determine which issues need to be addressed as a priority. They can also view trends to determine which areas are performing well and which need improvement. The evaluation also allows them to see how checks are progressing over time.