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Automotive manufacturers operate in a hyper-competitive industry, producing complex pieces of equipment that have, on average, over 30,000 parts. Manufacturing them comes with substantial uncertainty due to quickly shifting consumer tastes—and the unwavering expectation for high quality.

To navigate these challenges, automotive manufacturers are increasingly turning to smart manufacturing software to help them compete, manage shifting consumer tastes, facilitate the massive shift from combustible engines to EVs, and maintain the highest levels of quality ever.

Strategic Decisions – Balancing Quality with Growth

As supply chain disruptions and worker shortages become the norm across industries, automotive manufacturers realize they need to balance their growth with a more substantial commitment to quality. And they are looking predominantly at technology to provide the path to that balance.

Already, 42% of manufacturing leaders identify improving quality as a priority that technology and software will enable. And 28% acknowledge that this balance is best achieved with smart manufacturing.

But how is this balance achieved? And how can software lay a solid digital foundation for quality within the automotive industry?

How Software Drives Quality

While smart manufacturing platforms and integrated software are critical components of the search for improved automotive quality, many manufacturers look to software that can address the automotive industry's unique challenges.

Demand Planning

With Plex's demand and supply planning software, automotive manufacturers can create more accurate forecasts that directly impact quality. With a precise demand plan, companies can respond with more agility. Hence, they are less dependent on secondary suppliers, substitutions, and other demand-related challenges that could affect quality in production.

Because this software incorporates the unique challenges of automotive, these manufacturers can rely on additional capabilities such as a market forecast manager to further reduce risk by using automated data in a forecast manager dedicated to their needs.

This helps prevent potential quality problems based on insufficient or erroneous data.

Process Control and Optimization

Smart manufacturing software also drives quality by providing enterprise-wide visibility of production processes. In smart manufacturing, production process optimization and quality are intricately linked. Because there is no better place to start with quality than at the moment of production, as production processes are optimized, quality procedures can be automatically audited to analyze results.

Advanced MES software delivers visibility to error-proof control on the plant floor, directly impacting quality. MES automation and orchestration capabilities within advanced smart manufacturing platforms mean functionality critical to assessing quality can be automated and leverage real-time data to respond quickly if a quality issue arises.

Quality Management Systems

Of course, at the core of every automotive manufacturer's quality effort is an advanced Quality Management System (QMS). But unlike traditional manufacturing QMS, a QMS within a smart manufacturing platform doesn't exist in parallel to other OT software. Instead, it utilizes the same data and insights in a single definition of truth to integrate with other software.

This capability is critical to the automotive industry for several reasons. First, it helps deliver a digitally traced, repeatable quality process.

The same data that drives the MES tracks the quality, output, and defect rate and generates transparent reporting and auditing of processes in real time.

Second, in an industry of highly complex regulations and compliance requirements, digital tools and automation can deliver real-time quality documentation immediately to ensure compliance. And because the quality data is dynamic and available as production is done, quality is genuinely "in-line" and based on reality.

Realizing Tomorrow's Production Quality Today

Advanced software and smart manufacturing are transforming many industries. But they have become especially critical to automotive manufacturing. They use data, a company's most valuable asset, to deliver real-time insights that drive quality across the enterprise. And they act as the digital building blocks of any company's quality program.

Contact us to learn more about how smart manufacturing software can address the challenges you face and how you can take advantage of your machine data.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.