Continual Improvement of Production Processes - TS 16949



According to the ISO/TS chapture you have to improve always the production processes. We have one process running since 10 years and deliver e.g. less than 100 ppm in a month. Therefore, we do not want change anything in this process. What arguments did we have therefore to the auditor? Anybody a good idea?


M Greenaway

Tough question.

Assuming that all your production processes are capable of achieving such levels of product conformance then you could perhaps turn your efforts to improving efficiency or reducing costs, or even improving the product itself. Or look at the 'service' side of the business, such as delivery performance, etc.

If you have already achieved all this then you are perhaps quite a unique company !!


IMO, PPM target is set differently from customer to customer pending on type of process, product and other historical factors.

For the continual improvement, analysis from the results of current PPM status, leading to actions to improve the process in order to reduce the PPM, or even leading to the determination of lower priority than other needed action plans (case of the target PPM has been met) is still acceptable, I think.

Paul N.

Randy Stewart

PPM Numbers

PPM is another statistic that can really mess up a company. You must look at what your volume of shipping is first. If it is a low volume it may not tell you anything, especially if the reject numbers are inflated. Here's an example, Company Q supplies parts to Company K on a low volume scale (< 8000 per year). Parts are shipped in racks of 10 parts per. Company K rejects in lots and finds 1 part with shipping damage in each of 2 racks. Company K reports rejecting 20 parts and Company Qs PPM goes through the roof (somewhere around 250,000). Now is that a good reflection of what Company Q's quality is? I say no. If you look at the 6 month or 3 month PPM it may but the company will spend most of the next 12 months trying to reduce the PPM (annual average) because of the amount of parts being shipped. Company Q could show great improvment on reducing the PPM but what do they gain from it? For the Process Improvment initiative look at scrap reduction, just because you deliver < 100 PPM per month doesn't mean there isn't a lot of sorting or scrap. Maybe quicker set up time, etc. As an auditor I would be curious if a process hasn't changed over a 10 year period, I'm not stating that it couldn't but with all the changes in industry it would be a dinosaur if it hasn't been changed at least a couple times.


The real issue is "improvement". Reduction of PPM is only one way to 'improve' the process. From the customer's viewpoint, you can make significant advances in the service aspects with this product that would constitute 'improvement'. Investigate all parts of the value chain.

Also, we have had some success in the past by demonstrating how our prioritization of resources for improvement activities has resulted in an overall improved relationship with the customer. But our actions were not directly related to the output of the production process. Depends on the auditor and registrar, talk to them, you pay the bill!

M Greenaway

Another angle would be to consider other 'interested parties' such as stakeholders or employees, by for example improving share dividends or reducing absence or staff turnover.

If you production processes are so good (which is probably questionable) then turn your attention to these areas.


Look at

The ISO/TS 'bible' does not state that you must improve ALL processes. What it does say (in is the organization must define its process for continual improvement. It is up to the organization how they do this.
Somehow, you need to prioritize your improvement efforts and if your 100 PPM process does not bubble to the top of the list for your company, then you shouldn't need to argue with your auditor at all. Just make sure that you have backup information showing that there are other processes within your organization that require focused efforts, other than this one.


Starting to get Involved
Re: TS 16949 - Continuous Improvement of Production Processes

Another way to look at this is the ranking of your PPM's, similar to RPN's on PFMEAS. You may not be able to do all your lines at once, but based on RPN, PPM, Volume, Cost, Customer, etc. you may have to prioritize what needs to be done. Also can there be small improvements (layout, Ergo, etc.) that may help drop from 100 to 99 PPM, or maybe reduce stress & strain injuries, or improve cycle time by a sec or two. All improvements, but not necessary "Quality" improvements.
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