4 questions for Johannes Michel…
Today, Johannes Michel, Logistics Management Consultant at valantic, provides some insight into auditing, in the automotive industry and elsewhere. In the interview, he discusses the benefits and challenges of auditing according to the VDA 6.3 standard.
Hello Johannes, it’s nice that you can take the time to talk to us. Please introduce yourself briefly!
My name is Johannes Michel, I am 31 years old, father of four, and I have been part of the Logistics Management team at valantic since November 2021. Our goal is to develop various topics for our customers such as network planning, complete logistics concepts, process analyses, and auditing; we also implement projects from start to finish.
Can you explain process analysis and the related aspect of certification according to the VDA 6.3 standard in more detail?
Many people only regard such certificates as framed “dust collectors” in companies’ reception areas. However, they can be so much more than wall decorations that are cleaned occasionally.
The VDA 6.3 process audit was originally introduced by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) for automobile manufacturers and their suppliers. Almost all automobile manufacturers now assume that their suppliers regularly audit their processes in accordance with VDA 6.3. The VDA 6.3 audit can also be used by companies in other sectors.
The third part of the “Quality Standards of the German Automotive Industry (VDA 6)” defines, among other things, how a process audit is to be conducted for creating products and services, series production, and providing services.
Process analysis and auditing according to the VDA 6.3 standard can be set up independently by companies in order to check quality levels within specific process sequences: Such auditing reveals weaknesses in the company’s processes and uncovers optimization potential. This way, you not only fulfill all customer requirements, you also optimize internal processes, reduce costs, and increase product quality.
But everything starts with a first step. When an audit is conducted, the customer or company to be certified is forced to look at their own processes more intensively. When we look at things together, specific processes can then be analyzed and examined in more detail.
What are the benefits to your customers of the standardized approach?
In the automobile industry, numerous transport companies and logistics service providers move expensive and sensitive goods from A to B every day. In colloquial terms, this is often referred to as “box-pushing.” However, the safety of cargo, the large number of operational employees, and, last but not least, adherence to delivery times must not be neglected. Without a uniform and standardized procedure in day-to-day business, it is difficult for most site or branch managers to continuously improve these processes or even to have a clear overview of them. That’s why it is so important to put internal processes and processes on a reliable and standardized basis. Here we are very much in line with the VDA 6.3 standard, which we have expanded further with our experience and specialist expertise. This is where three areas come together, some of which have different objectives:
- Cost-optimized processes from a business perspective
- Process-technical flows of employees from the point of view of occupational safety
- Commonly regulated high-quality transport processes from the customer’s point of view
Can you give us some examples of the real-world challenges?
For many branch and operations managers, an audit is a tiresome affair, especially if the client commissions an external company for process analysis. First of all, no one has the time, desire, or opportunity to work with the auditor. There is so much potential in regular audits, it would be helpful if the auditor is no longer regarded as just someone wielding a red pen, but rather someone who identifies and develops potential for improvement. The measures implemented as the result of an audit can increase the company’s added value.
The size of the company is irrelevant. Our audits and process analyses according to the VDA 6.3 standard can be adapted to the size of the company, whether we are commissioned by a large corporation or an SME.
The logistics industry in particular runs on low margins, and these are even lower right now given the impossible-to-calculate energy costs. However, it is precisely here that efficient and cost-optimized processes are essential, and in many areas can even give the company a competitive advantage. However, it is not always easy to establish this mindset at the company.
That sounds difficult. How do you actually proceed with a customer project?
Every company is unique. Therefore, only rarely do standard rules apply to special processes. In this case, a special audit must be developed and implemented, from the individual solution (e.g. a location or a single process) to the association standard (different branches or divisions within a company). This way, individual auditing systems and areas can be developed, which can be integrated into an established quality management system and are thus subject to continuous monitoring. The audit can include various topics, such as social responsibility, handling of highly sensitive or valuable objects, various site-specific factors, personnel deployment, technical equipment, and economic safety assessment. All of these areas must be considered individually by each company. Even in an association, these areas cannot be treated the same way everywhere.
And now it’s all about getting started. With the help of our Logistics Management team, it is possible for every company, every industry to work with us to examine their own and/or the commissioned logistics processes and reveal optimization potential. And all this regardless of whether with regular monitoring or with the goal of determining the maturity level during a project launch.
Thanks for the interview, Johannes!