It’s evident that the automotive industry has come a long way since the creation of the first moving assembly line in 1913. In today’s age, the advent of connected and self-driven cars has unleashed unheard-of levels of autonomy. While the fast paced nature of connected cars have transformed the way we live and travel, these vehicles require in-depth quality assurance at the software level to verify that they keep up with their suggested functionality levels.

In honor of World Quality Month being celebrated every year around the world in November, we explored why automotive OEMs need a strong testing infrastructure and a top-notch quality management system to successfully engineer the next generation of innovative vehicles.

The lives of drivers and their passengers depend heavily on the motor manufacturers’ expert workmanship, making it critical that safety is given absolute priority in the design, manufacturing and upkeep of vehicles. The increasing challenge for automakers in relation to connected vehicles and self-driving cars, is while OEMs have superior skills in their core areas of mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, they need to turn to external sources for expertise in quality assurance purposes.

As a pioneer in the connected car space, HARMAN has extensive experience in both automotive and software industries to validate and certify standards across the automotive supply chain that helps automakers eliminate avoidable errors throughout the manufacturing process. Most recently, HARMAN revamped our own Quality Management System (QMS) for our automotive customers in order to improve our ability to find and adhere to our processes. This presented our business process owners with a prime opportunity to simplify, asses and reduce the inefficient processes in place by bringing process teams across the business together and have them work to develop a singular process framework that can be scaled across the company.

HARMAN can better serve our customers with simple, streamlined processes that reflect business realities and priorities, and to ultimately reduce unnecessary actions for our teams. Our customers benefit from products and services that meet their requirements and are right the first time. Here’s how this can be achieved:

  • Business Teams Drive Seamless Redesigns: HARMAN’s Process Redesign Business Teams consider the inputs, outputs and process steps to consistently execute.

  • Team Fills Gaps Individuals Alone Miss: Our Team Selection Criteria ensures all process ownership teams have the three criteria necessary for effective redesign: cross-functional visibility, key quality and business characteristics and a sufficient level of influence.

  • Address Roadblocks Before They Arise: HARMAN’s process redesign enablement tools help address any roadblocks before they crop up. These tools are leveraged by the process owners when proactively identifying challenge points. From potential roadblocks including not having the knowledge to define inputs and outputs, or being unsure on how to track process efficacy, HARMAN’s process redesign enablement tools keep our redesign teams focused on the critical process characteristics and the links between processes.

  • Coaching Helps Keep Pace with Process Needs: HARMAN’s Quality Coaches help process owners maintain momentum throughout process redesign by actively providing feedback and keeping visibility on the end-goal of ensuring process efficacy and cohesion. We’ve come to see that many organizations are unsure of process requirements, and that other priorities distract owners from remembering to maintain the process. As a solution to this risk, HARMAN’s Quality Coach role teaches process owners quality management best practices and even reviews redesign drafts! The Quality Coach function also provides annual reminders to owners if they haven’t completed their process; helping them get into a healthy maintenance habit.

Our revamped Quality Management System has yielded positive results for HARMAN in as little as 8 months. Internal studies we conducted found that our system eliminated 25 processes and redesigned 18, to arrive at 35 processes for HARMAN automotive. HARMAN’s QMS results showcase a culture of continuous improvement for not only our own company, but for our automotive customers. A savvy QMS makes all the difference for an organization, including efficient shipments, products that always meet customer requirements, ensures plants and supply chains are running efficiently with appropriate capacity, and more.

Implementing a quality management system or process is immensely beneficial to all parties involved. Automakers can help by pushing for further alignment across their requirements in order to stay competitive and safely meet the changing demands of today’s sophisticated consumer. OEMs are not always successful in aligning their requirements, but it is clear to all that well designed Quality Management Systems result in increased customer satisfaction, safer vehicles, and an improved bottom line, it’s simple to see why the importance of a quality management system is growing in the automotive industry.