Benefits of Proper Document Control In Automotive Manufacturing
Benefits of Proper Document Control In Automotive Manufacturing
Industry Insights
Benefits of Proper Document Control In Automotive Manufacturing
Understand the benefits of document control and how it can lead to a more cohesive and high-functioning work environment that generates quality products for customers.
June 9, 2021

A document control system keeps data in a central place, giving greater control over processes and providing a reliable means of documenting procedures. It's an excellent way to improve processes in manufacturing.

How have automotive manufacturers organized and handled processes, job descriptions, and other vital materials? The benefits of document control far outweigh those of document storage. Every aspect of your automotive facility can benefit from a centralized document control system.

Document Control and Quality in Automotive Manufacturing

Good document control is necessary for eliminating ambiguity and improving Quality. Consistency is not usually mentioned when automotive manufacturers discuss Quality. However, it's essential for efficient and profitable product development and manufacturing.


Inconsistent documentation is inadequate and ineffective. It's also the most significant and needless cause of product delays and cost overruns in modern automotive manufacturing.
Product data is typically strewn across departments, suppliers, and outsourcing partners on different platforms. Typically, they're in different formats, with insufficient disciplines to avoid dependence on incorrect or unreliable information.


A poorly coordinated system for creating, revising, approving, storing, and retrieving documents inevitably leads to late products, quality issues, and liability exposure. There are also returns, reworks, and scrap.


On the flip side, comprehensive product documentation is managed using one accessible system that helps automotive and other manufacturers achieve sustained high Quality, cost control and optimize manufacturing efficiency, especially with outsourced work. Such record management prevents expensive mistakes and is readily implemented.
Smart operations leads know that product documentation is the intellectual property of a manufacturer. When engineering talent leave an automotive manufacturing company, they're walking out the door knowing more than when they first came in. They need to leave documents as a significant part of the training for their replacements. These documents will also guide production and prevent redundant development.


Therefore, the health and value of an automotive manufacturing business depend on maintaining and preserving the product record. Yet, sound management of product data remains an essential ethos of many automotive manufacturing operations.

A Proper Approach to Records

Frequent engineering requests and change orders are typical of auto manufacturers with aggressive schedules during product introductions. The volumes are often much during short development cycles through prototyping, initial production, pilot runs, and process debugging. Each change often involves multiple item attributes, including bill of materials, drawings, designated sources, nomenclature, workflows, test procedures, and assembly routines.
Strict document control is critical in distributed, outsourced automotive manufacturing, where language, time, and geographical barriers exist.

Document control for automotive manufacturing should feature the following basic parameters:

  1. Prevent unauthorized revisions
  2. Ensure approval for all revisions before release
  3. Provide version-correct documents to the right parties
  4. Verify document reviews
  5. Ascertain current document statuses
  6. Discourage the use of obsolete documents
  7. Import and track documents from external sources

Accurate product specs support efficient product development when engineering, materials scientists, operations, and suppliers refer to a single source of truth. That all information lives in one place is the first principle of document management.

Documents in one central repository are easier to access and produce in conformity with ISO and other quality standards. Automotive companies make equipment critical to life; therefore, they must meet the tight requirements of regulatory agencies for documentation. Smart operations executives protect their manufacturing organizations from liability claims by ensuring they can easily extract documentation for an entire product history.


They can then show how they surfaced and dealt with the problems, who authorized design changes, what vendor supplied which parts, and the Quality Control measures they applied. They'll also tell how they handled any complaints.


Achieving a central, universally accessible repo for product information leads automotive manufacturers to engage modern document management techniques in the form of web-powered product lifecycle management (PLM) services. Any automotive manufacturer, regardless of size, can leverage this type of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as it lowers risk, cost, and IT requirements that enterprise client-server solutions typically require.


Manufacturers can lower the frequency of communication errors and improve time to market as their businesses become capable of offering a secure, collaborative online environment for sharing product data and changes with offshore partners and contract manufacturers.


The Power of Document Control: Quality Software and Analysis

Manufacturers, including automotive manufacturers, began document control at the behest of the ISO. Customers are increasingly aware of what document control is capable of. Modern manufacturing plants use some form of document control. However, they're usually limited systems such as electronic spreadsheets. However, document control is more.
Stephen Cummings, Vice President of Marketing at IBS America, describes document control as talking about tubes rather than transistors in a radio. It's the foundation of a compliance solution, human resources, or training. The right system can help an automotive manufacturer manage policies, procedures, and work instructions, ensuring employees have the correct documents. Cummings says melding training and document systems is critical.


Document control should track document modifications and automatically issue prompt notifications to interested parties. Companies can ensure the applicability of documents and look for potential changes. These are especially important because of the crucial support for multilingual documents or user communities. The interface for accessing the document needs to be specific to a community, with the ability to handle multiple document types.
Compliance systems such as FDA or ISO regulations assume document control. It provides a formal procedure for review and improvement of management procedures.

Benefits of Implementing Document Control in Automotive Manufacturing

A proper document control system in an automotive manufacturing operation guarantees improved success. Ensuring that everything is in one place allows adequate organization and handling of processes and job descriptions, among other things. It goes beyond document storage. Likewise, the benefits are even bigger. A centralized document control system is an excellent aid in automotive manufacturing.


Regulations including the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 emphasize the documentation of processes and implementation of set procedures. Here are some benefits of centralizing data in automotive manufacturing using document control.

#1 – Improved Process Control

Unifying automotive manufacturing data offers greater control over all processes, regardless of the operational specialization. Documents vary, and it can be an arduous task to organize them in a meaningful way. For example, a job description may not need the same workflow as a supplier specification. A document control system offers much information and routing options to keep everything accessible.


Accessing the various documents with ease requires having an easy-to-configure system to organize them. Document control enables the configuration of the metadata around your documents. It means customizing high-level information per document, including department, priority level, or ISO elements. Keeping things organized and centralized allows for robust search, filter, and change functions to find documents quickly.


A centralized organizational structure is crucial in quickly accessing documents, such as during employee training. Document control ensures document integration with the training system of an automotive manufacturing facility. Besides, you can exercise complete control over employee training after creating documents or updating them.
Integration with a training system through a document control system like WorkClout helps define who needs what training and effect automatic update of records. Employees may indulge in self-training to streamline the process, and leaders can determine who gets what training, ensuring that everyone follows a similar training path.

#2 – Quicker and More Efficient Collaboration

Putting all things in one location makes for better communication. As such, internal and external collaboration (with vendors) is more efficient. Linking all documents to one central system with automatic notifications and reminders improves collaboration efforts. Once parties are aware of their assignments and receive reminders of due dates, the alerts lower the response time of internal and external communication without emails, urgency, and security issues.


An important element in achieving quick and efficient collaboration is to ensure that all parties have access to the most accurate and current document versions. Document control keeps documents relevant by integrating changes with Office tools. Changes in the document will instantly appear in the system, making them live edits, essentially.
Establishing and maintaining this smooth workflow can hit the rocks when important personnel is unavailable. Document control considers these possibilities and provides review and approval rules.


The rules make room for assigning substitutes and alternate approval routes when key personnel is not available. It keeps the process from proceeding smoothly to meet all deadlines.
Also, the collaboration involves liaising with third parties without compromising security. The data security and filtering of good document control allow for secure collaboration. A direct communication system removes the risk of loss or interception of email, for instance. This system type can filter or secure certain information based on established rules, so parties can only access what they need. Other sensitive information is off-limits.

#3 – Greater Visibility and Platforms For Improvement

Ensuring that all data in the same place provides improved visibility into the effects of procedures on automotive manufacturing. Document control systems like WorkClout, which integrate well with reporting tools, offer even more visibility. It's easier to view all data in one place using one of several options, including:
on an aggregate level,
as ad hoc reports, or
as scheduled or templated reports.


Presenting meaningful information is helpful when making decisions or improvements. Multiple reports offer insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. They also surface opportunities and areas in need of improvement. In all, your organization will have reliable platforms for decision-making. Decisions deriving from accurate data instill the confidence that the actions will improve operations.


Changing processes to back up these improvement measures inevitably generates crucial new documents and updates for teams. Centralizing document control supports change requests and revision control. There's a workflow for approval, revision, and review of the new document version, enabling automatic replacement of the old document.
Such centralized systems can also support multi-document change requests, so a change to a range of documents means the system can rely on the metadata to change all affected documents.


These features promote improvement by allowing quick changes. The automatic workflow streamlines the process and dramatically lowers the time for implementing a change.
The workflow is automatic, so you can be confident that employees are accessing the latest document versions. Besides, the system creates automatic alerts when additional training on new versions becomes necessary.


Good visibility into quality data is the best approach to improvement. Data-driven decision-making plus a system for quick change implementation is the most efficient way to improve quickly. A centralized document control system can help with data gathering, data analysis, and rapid change implementation.

What are the Challenges of Document Control in Auto Manufacturing?

Document management is increasingly complex with outsourcing and mergers. However, manufacturers grapple with lower IT capital expenditure and staff to maintain competitiveness. Every product document exchange and revision can introduce errors that impact the entire distributed manufacturing enterprise without strict systems for document control.
For a lot of mid-tier operations, it's now an obsolete option to archive paper documents. Electronic data automation using a comprehensive tool such as WorkClout is the more effective norm.
Paper systems, digital spreadsheets, email, and faxes influenced department-wise document control in companies instead of holistic methods. Today's auto manufacturers need to empower business units at any location to share production documents with other authorized parties elsewhere. This includes key collaborative suppliers and should coordinate data across various silos for change control. As such, obsolete information may contaminate supply chains, manufacturing, and engineering.
Automating and centralizing document control improves process and product-change cycles, increasing the Quality and quantity of product description. Also, it mitigates liability concerns and improves organizational structure. Important contractors and suppliers with authorized access are assured that they're viewing the same current, approved documentation as engineers and procurement staff.


In addition, there's internal document tracking to assemble complete history, approval dates, and the specific changes included in each revision. Adequate document control systems eliminate ambiguities in product specification and foster good Quality, improved accountability, and higher revenue potential. More successful automotive manufacturers rely on document control and process management to gain a competitive advantage and leap ahead of their rivals.

Conclusion

According to recent ISO revisions, automotive manufacturers have a stronger need for documenting procedures for Quality operations. Centralized document control ensures compliance while making many benefits available to the manufacturing organization.
Automation and centralization of important documents offer greater control over processes, fast-forwarding collaboration efforts, and increasing visibility while presenting the perfect culture medium for improvement.

A document control system such as WorkClout organizes and simplifies document handling and employee training, providing room to improve many aspects of the automotive manufacturing operation.

Get the latest updates, straight to your inbox
Book a personalized 15-min demo
Book A Demo
illustration of person performing an inspection using a tablet on WorkClout.
The #1 QMS In The Industry For Auto Manufacturers
Get control of your quality. Get results 10x faster.