By Marc Lind and Thomas Gill
selected from different product lines
and plants to ensure all key considera-
CASE STUDY: FREUDENBERG-NOK tions would be taken into account.
After conducting several kaizens, the
project team’s research identified a set
Secrets to Eliminating
of key issues the business faced. For
one, new product programs were not
being managed in a consistent manner
because project managers were using
Disparate APQP Systems
different methods and systems. This
resulted in three primary problems:
1) OEM customer quality
deliverables were inconsistent
Freudenberg-NOK eliminates redundant systems, gains 2) Launch performance was not
executive visibility and improves launch performance by measured and unclear; and
integrating APQP program management, and product 3) Executives lacked visibility.
development. When presented with the team’s
findings, the steering committee em-
phasized a customer-focused ap-
The requirement for advanced product Planning for the Future proach to solving the problems. The
quality planning (APQP) compliance In 2002, management at Freudenberg- committee understood that solving the
has resulted in a general structure for NOK could see the combination of problems required a single process
reporting on status during product trends that lay ahead, including: and that getting the company aligned
development and launch in the auto- I An increasing number of new with one solution would be difficult.
motive industry. However, the fact that product programs; The steering committee also recog-
different OEMs demand different vari- I Shortening development cycles; nized that a combination of organiza-
ations has complicated the original I Customer-specific quality tional change, reengineering and
intent. For suppliers, it is increasingly deliverables and reporting information technology would be
difficult to satisfy the many OEM requirements; and required to address the problems and
requirements while maintaining effi- I Continued pressure on product provide the company with a competi-
cient product development processes margins. tive advantage in the years ahead.
and running a profitable business. These converging circumstances
Forward-thinking suppliers are tack- meant that effectively managing The Power of Perspective
ling these issues with methods that sat- product development programs was Prior to the initiative, some at
isfy reporting requirements while becoming a competitive necessity Freudenberg-NOK considered APQP a
improving the product development while simultaneously getting more dif- process handled by the quality
process and maintaining proprietary ficult. As a global supplier with a group—a common belief at many
competitive practices. For example, diverse set of customers, Freudenberg- companies. Whether unintentional or
by managing programs in a phase- NOK recognized the coming chal- deliberate, this set a tone in the organ-
based structure that aligns with the lenges, and senior managers were ization that can lead to a “that’s not
APQP standard and creating templates determined to make APQP program part of my job” attitude. The project
for different OEM requirements, management an organizational compe- team understood the effect of this
Freudenberg-NOK has been able to tency and a competitive advantage. and decided early on that achieving
eliminate the numerous systems and Given the strategic importance and project success and customer
spreadsheets used to track APQP status cross-functional nature of the program satisfaction would depend on over-
and improve visibility into the product management process, a steering coming the perception.
development process for more committee and project team were Both OEM and Tier One customers
effective program management. The formed with broad representation. are adamant about the application of
approach also helped Freudenberg- Membership included executives and APQP as the basis for the new product
NOK measure launch performance to staff from product development, quali- process and not just the generation
improve product quality and customer ty, manufacturing management, pur- of documents and reports. By using
satisfaction. chasing and finance. Participants were Continued on page 19
May/June 2005 actionline 17
Secrets to Eliminating Disparate APQP Systems
Continued from page 17 Corporation as its software supplier. relationships and interdependencies
the phases and deliverables from The supplier went live in eight weeks, between program variables.
the APQP standard as the foundation deploying the system across all The flawless launch scorecard was
for the reengineering efforts, the Freudenberg-NOK’s North American designed with 13 key performance
Freudenberg-NOK project team was development centers. More than 50 indicators (KPIs), measuring customer
able to quickly build a process model templates have been defined to date, satisfaction and plant launch perform-
that addressed customer requirements as different spreadsheets and systems ance across five dimensions: quality,
yet still had a consistent and efficient have been retired as a result of the roll- readiness, timeliness, service and
design. While certain program man- out. Each of the templates follows a profitability. Since going live with the
agement and product and process standard APQP program format provid- solution, more than 360 flawless
development activities are not techni- ing process consistency. launch scorecards have been complet-
cally part of the APQP process (e.g., Keeping “APQP” as the process ed. The intent is to gather data that will
production volume planning and name—even though the activities and be used to target improvement
capital acquisition), the majority of deliverables had been expanded— opportunities and provide insight into
value-add tasks critical to new product turned out to be an important decision. the interdependencies of program
success were already included or Today APQP, program management variables to help run the business
easily added. and product development are not more effectively and profitably.
Product lines around the company only considered a single process, The inclusion of the launch coordi-
were invited to map existing product but are practically synonymous at nation metrics as part of the APQP
development processes and unique Freudenberg-NOK. solution rollout has become a driver
methodologies to the APQP process to Freudenberg-NOK works diligently for acceptance of the single process
maintain competitive practices while to embody the essence of the APQP and system. As more data is located
satisfying the standard approach. standard. It has achieved better organi- within the system, executives increas-
Templates were established to address zational alignment than anticipated ingly ask about and emphasize launch
different OEM deliverables and report- simply because of the way people metrics in other meetings and reviews.
ing requirements. At the detail level, think about the relationship between The pressure combined with regular
different products had different tasks APQP, program management and communication and training is helping
and activities; however, each template product development. When working to convert the remaining laggards.
followed the same phases and must on a deadline, people ask each other, Freudenberg-NOK executives are
satisfy the same milestones. The secret “If you’re not working on APQP, what committed to customer satisfaction
is in the way deliverables are grouped are you working on?” and competitive competency through
and relationships are defined. APQP program management excel-
As the template structure was being Making Every Launch Count lence and it’s showing in new business
fleshed out, the Freudenberg-NOK OEM customer stipulations and loom- and growing revenues.
project team set out to identify and ing warranty considerations are provid- In summary, Freudenberg-NOK’s
evaluate software that could satisfy the ing even greater incentive for suppliers implementation of a common APQP
emerging program, project and to focus on product launch. tool has had considerable impact.
process requirements and replace the During the initial analysis of issues, Employees can see the current status
various spreadsheets and databases the Freudenberg-NOK project team of projects across the enterprise.
that had been put in place over time. identified the measurement and Internal and external launch metrics
The critical characteristics for consistency of launch performance as are being captured and used to pro-
Freudenberg-NOK’s solution included: one of the primary problems facing the vide feedback to the development
I Must support a template structure. company. For years, managers inher- process. The Web-based technology
I Have functionality to run the ently understood that there was a has made it easier to deploy the system
business, not just report. relationship between the numerous to all team members—not just the
I Offer simple Internet screens that project management variables that are quality group. The data consolidated
allow drill down. involved in a new product program, within the system is now being used to
I Must be able to implement including the number of programs make the product development system
software quickly. assigned to an individual, the variety of even more effective.
I Must be flexible enough to adapt OEM-specific deliverables, and the
easily and expand applications degree of success at program launch. Marc Lind, CPIM, is vice president
over time. With many more programs coming in for Aras Corporation. Thomas Gill is
After an extensive review of systems, the near future, Freudenberg-NOK director, CAE technology and support
Freudenberg-NOK selected Aras wanted to explicitly understand the for Freudenberg-NOK.
May/June 2005 actionline 19