Layered Process Audit – best practices

Layered Process Audit (LPA) stands as one of the pivotal elements in enhancing an organization’s quality system. Proper implementation instills confidence in reducing the number of quality issues arising from field invoices and 0-km concerns, safeguarding operational activities and ensuring their minimal impact.

Safety concerns, maintenance tasks performable by production staff, and the identification of internal notifications (non-conformities not communicated to customers) fall within the purview of LPA. It’s crucial to include these aspects in the audit scope.

When conducting Layered Process Audits, adhering to several best practices can amplify their effectiveness and enhance awareness among auditors and participants alike.

Effective communication during Layered Process Audit

Prior to conducting audits on the production line, it’s advisable to coordinate the timing and duration with the production leader. Considering their myriad responsibilities during a shift, scheduling the audit ensures it receives due attention, avoiding marginalization.

However, this doesn’t imply a marginal approach from the production side towards LPA.

During the meeting with the leader, identifying the specific production station for audit allows for informing the employee whose knowledge will be tested. Additionally, this gives the leader time to arrange necessary workplace documentation beforehand, if not readily available at the station.

Calibration – how to increase competences between individual levels of auditors

The very name of layered audits comes from the level of people (layers) who carry it out. We usually deal with three levels, starting with the production leader who performs such an audit on his shift, through middle managers, and ending with the director of the plant or a dedicated person from a senior management.

layered audits - performed audits reporting

Fig. 1: Example of Audit Levels for Individual Production Lines Reporting

This approach provides the opportunity to calibrate auditors across different levels to develop a proper interpretation regarding potential non-compliance. In practice, an auditor from one level (e.g., a manager) invites another level auditor (e.g., a production leader) to participate in an audit.

This tool helps increase the competence of auditors conducting layered audits.

Defining owners for found nonconformities

One of the post-audit activities involves reporting non-compliances with the owner and planned completion date. It’s crucial to inform the designated person responsible for addressing the non-compliance. This prevents assigning non-compliance resolution to individuals who did not participate in the audit.

Assigning the leader as the owner for all open points or organizing a closing meeting can ensure proper management of identified issues.

Layered Process Audit: Production Line Audit vs. Workstation Audit

A crucial aspect of LPA involves verifying each workstation, ensuring that auditors audit every position for each production line at least once a month. This confirms the verification of all workstations, a crucial starting point for defining system activities when identical non-compliances are identified in several workstations.

Using appropriate software or visualization techniques can help manage this process efficiently.

Audit Question List as a Living Document

The audit question list should be viewed as a “living document,” subject to regular updates based on feedback and observations from:

– Certification Body visits,

– customer feedback,

– and corporate audits.

Automotive customers, may provide additional recommendations. For instance, GM suggests including a blank field in the audit list to address specific topics for a certain period. Example? Lock-out Tag-out procedure kick-off in maintenance or verifying the effectiveness of implemented actions after obtaining a claim.

You can download an automatic, editable Excel form for free on the Free Quality Tools

Document name: Layered Process Audit – Excel form

Dariusz Kowalczyk

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