What is it: Layered Process Audits (LPA) are a system of audits performed by multiple levels of supervision and management to monitor key process characteristics and verify process conformance on an ongoing basis. A Layered Process Auditing system is comprised of three critical elements:
- A set of audits focused on high-risk processes
- Layers of auditors from all areas of management who perform audits
- A system of reporting and follow-up to ensure containment as needed and drive improvement
Why use it: Layered Process Audits provide an excellent tool for minimizing process variation, error-proofing systems, contributing towards single-digit ppm reject rates and even meeting the goal of zero defects to your end customers. Key benfits are:
- Reduces variation in production
- Improve quality
- Improves & maintains discipline
- Reduces scrap and eliminates waste
- Reduce customer rejections
- Improves discipline & communication
- Increase employee participation
- Improves overall quality & cuts costs
- Stops production problems from becoming rejections
Where to use it: Layered Process Audits are used to insure high risk processes and error proofing devices do not exhibit a high level of variation and are working correctly. They are generally used in the following areas:
- Manufacturing operations
- All Operations and other support functions
When to use it: Layered Process Audits are conducted for manufacturing and assembly of high risk items at a minimum of once per shift. Frequency of Layered Audits are based on production volume or the level of risk associated with the process.
How to use it: There are three elements of a layered process auditing system:
- A Collection of Audits - Audits are simply an organized group of questions designed to examine a device or process. Audits in an LPA system should focus only on areas in the manufacturing process where deviation represents a high-risk for producing defective products.
- Layers of Auditors - In an LPA system, your collection of audits is performed on a regular basis, at a predetermined frequency, by multiple layers of management from across the manufacturing organization.
- Containment, Reporting & Follow-up - For a Layered Process Audit system to be truly effective, it must integrate action, analysis and improvements. If an auditor finds a non-conformance while performing an audit, that auditor should not only record their finding, but also take immediate initial corrective action to ensure defective products do not get out the door. Information about the finding should be recorded and readily available to management for later analysis. With a good system for recording and reporting audit information, an LPA system provides an excellent tool for troubleshooting problem areas and identifying places which are ripe for improvement.
- Management must own the process
- Identify and ask the right questions
- Participation spans all management layers
- Nonconformances lead to immediate containment
- Include a process for continuous improvement
- Schedule and perform audits regularly