Aerospace Quality Management

The quality of products and business processes are tightly intertwined, both relying on repeatability as the primary means to achieve the desired quality targets.  Improving quality requires measurement of current performance, auditing of process adherence, data analysis, and agreement on changes to the current ways of working.  Dassault Systèmes’ Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system is built with a continuous-process-improvement philosophy in mind and provides tools to support all of these activities. The following are some of the benefits brought by Dassault Systèmes (3DS)' solution for Aerospace Quality Management:

Business Process Repeatability
While the act of invention is anything but repeatable, business processes that Aerospace & Defense (A&D) Programs use to nurture inventions and turn them into marketable product should be repeatable.  Through the breadth of business process coverage as well as the interaction between processes and the extensive reuse of data, Dassault Systèmes PLM solutions allow A&D Programs to achieve much greater levels of repeatability. This begins with the sharing of data across discipline boundaries, especially in collaborative activities that require formal consensus and approval. In the same environment where creative work is done, all documentation (known as “command media”) that describes all desired procedures that guide people in their decision-making can be housed.

Business Process Metrics
Once consistent processes are in place, useful performance measurement becomes possible. In Dassault Systèmes’ PLM system, any implemented process has built-in metrics capability. The performance of the activity can be measured over time to look for improvement opportunities. A typical process related to product quality is the flow from problem detection (by the factory or customer), through problem analysis, to engineering change and on to the implementation in manufacturing. For such a flow that touches many different disciplines and IT systems, Dassault Systèmes’ solution can supports all the activities in a single environment. By federating data from other systems such as production suggestions and customer support, a cross-enterprise view of product quality and its trend-lines can be gained. This not only makes the root causes of problems more visible but also easier for the entire organization to deal with.

Audits
The most common cause of “out-of-tolerance” results is failure to follow established process. This applies both in the factory and in the office. Manufacturing execution systems have grown up in part to deal with the factory case. For the A&D Program office and all the integrated product teams, Dassault Systèmes' PLM system can do the same job. While the system does not attempt to constrain individual creativity, and has many points for human decisions, every step of the agreed collaboration processes is tracked with history data. These data provide the proof to an auditor or to a process-improvement analyst of exactly what steps occurred in collaboration. This makes it very straightforward to justify or maintain certifications such as CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). And to convince a contract auditor that all the proper steps were taken during execution of a contract.

Analysis
Worthwhile analysis depends on trustworthy data. By connecting the data and deliverables of dependent processes, Dassault Systèmes' PLM system provides the level of traceability that permits deeper understanding of cause and effect. These data can stretch all the way from initial contracts and their requirements to the physical product units that get delivered to customers. And since data-copying is one of the great sources of error, the data-federation capability of the solution allows many data external to the PLM system to be viewed in real-time as if they were native to PLM.

Process Improvement
Once an issue has been identified and the root cause analyzed, a solution to improve the situation has to be developed. Depending on the cause, the solution might be a change in product design, a change in tooling or a change in a process plan. For these, the relevant product and process change procedures are provided. For causes that relate to the operation of the business, a range of capabilities – from simple issue tracking and ad-hoc approvals to formal full-blown process-improvement projects – provide various degrees of sophistication and complexity to suit a variety of situations. Most importantly, the very procedures and tools for improvement live in the same system as the processes and data are being improved, providing the whole community with visibility and opportunity to contribute.

Aerospace Quality Management Solution includes:

  • Non conformance management
  • Quality trend analysis
  • Process improvement
  • Physical inspection

We wish to develop our PLM processes and methodologies to improve collaboration and data re-use to support Goodrich’s Lean Product Development initiatives.

Michael Collier Design Technologies, Staff Engineer, Goodrich Aerostructures