The convergence of cross-regional teams has resulted in a Global Quality System that includes one quality language, standard measures, target setting to drive top quartile(1) results and standard global processes.
The Global Quality System has been a key driver in establishing a process for definition of customer requirements, developing component and vehicle testing and implementing manufacturing plant quality processes and measures. The Group has implemented a common Quality methodology and standard measures worldwide through its defined Six Types of Quality to surpass customer expectations, eliminate inconvenience and cost to the customer and improve the company’s reputation. The Six Types of Quality that the Group monitors for improvement are:
- reliability, also described as ordinary quality, is measured according to warranty claims. The establishment of 14 customer satisfaction teams has been a key factor in significantly reducing the number of warranty claims in the past five years. Each of the teams is responsible for identifying and correcting problems for a specific vehicle system (brakes, driveline, electronics, etc.). For example, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) team - made up of experts from engineering, manufacturing, supplier quality and service - is tasked with continually reducing warranty claims and improving HVAC system quality on all Group vehicles
- perceived, also called appearance quality, measures and evaluates vehicle attributes such as fit-and-finish, ergonomics, the feel of interior materials and even the sound quality of movable parts like doors and storage bins. The goal is for customers to identify new vehicles as well-crafted and quality-built vehicles the first time they see or touch a vehicle at a dealership, auto show or in a neighbor’s driveway
- performance quality measures how well a vehicle performs and functions compared to its competition. To improve a vehicle’s performance quality, engineers start with an all-new vehicle program, collecting and prioritizing customer desires. Then the team benchmarks more than 300 physical characteristics of best-in-class vehicles. Criteria such as acceleration, braking, handling, seat comfort, storage space, fuel economy and visibility are measured so that all-new vehicles are designed to compete with the best
- dislike quality refers to situations where customers find certain vehicle features frustrating or poorly designed even though the vehicle performs reliably. For instance, a customer may think the cup holders are too low or the cruise control is difficult to set. The Group uses this customer feedback to reduce “dislike” design issues. Another example is the Group’s extensive consumer research to make sure the Uconnect radio, navigation and entertainment controls are intuitive and easy to use
- service quality measures the customer’s experience in the dealership, before and after the sale. The Group surveys customers after dealership visits to determine how likely they are to recommend the brand and product. If the vehicle was serviced, the company also asks customers about their level of satisfaction and monitors whether an issue was fixed properly on the first visit
- regulatory quality refers to recalls for safety or environmental compliance issues which can have an impact on a manufacturer’s reputation, in addition to customer inconvenience for extra service trips to a dealer. With strict quality control processes, the Group is committed to identifying potential issues as quickly as possible and providing safe, high-quality vehicles for its customers.
The implementation of World Class Manufacturing (WCM) at Fiat Group plants worldwide has also been a key driver of manufacturing quality system improvements. WCM is a best-in-class system of manufacturing that encompasses all plant processes, including a Quality Control pillar dedicated to creating instruments and methods that help the company reach its quality targets.
All Group manufacturing plants have adopted a Quality Management System Certification compliant with ISO 9001:2008. In addition, Fiat Powertrain plants in Europe are also ISO / TS 16949:2009 certified.
Among the factors contributing to strengthened manufacturing quality systems is the development of common vehicle measures worldwide. Fiat Group measures approximately 2,500 standard vehicle characteristics during the manufacturing process. Additionally, final vehicle quality is measured through a common Customer Product Audit (CPA). The CPA is a global quality audit methodology integrating best-in-class criteria that prioritizes defect severity levels based on customer perception and the competitive landscape.
Common quality tools, such as Metrology Centers, are utilized for product measurement at Group plants. The Metrology Center enables engineers and technicians to find sources of build variation - even when the components appear perfect to the naked eye - and resolve any fit and finish issues before customer vehicles are built.
As a commitment to global vehicle quality, the Group has implemented a goal of achieving the top quartile competitive placement for the vehicle portfolio by 2020, which is confirmed through relevant benchmark data in each region. This commitment is also supported by targets to improve customer satisfaction within each region and vehicle reliability as measured by rates of repair. In 2013, rate of repair in the first 90 days of ownership improved by 10% to 20% globally, depending on the model. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an internal tracking system that measures customers’ willingness to recommend their vehicle to a friend or family member. In 2013, NPS on three year old vehicles improved by as much as 32% in regions with available measures.
(1) Vehicle portfolio will place within the top 25% of benchmark data.