Layered process audits: definition, examples, checklists

Layered process audits: definition, examples, checklists

Scheduled reviews and audits are not always enough to ensure consistent quality throughout all levels of the organization. As a result, many manufacturers have introduced Layered Process Audits to strengthen their QMS and verify that standard process is consistently followed on the factory floor. To minimize the admin burden for everyone, many organizations use a software for layered process audits.

Layered process audit: definition

Layered process audits (LPAs) are a type of audit that focuses on observing and validating how products are made, rather than inspecting the finished products. This type of quality audit can help management teams make continuous process improvements and strengthen their quality control plan: identifying recurring issues, correcting them right at the source, and standardizing processes to eliminate manufacturing non-conformances.

LPAs are not only managed by the Quality Department, they involve all employees in the auditing process and don’t necessarily require specialized knowledge.

LPA Audits: checklist-driven internal quality audits on the plant floor

As the name indicates, different “layers,” or levels, of management and production personnel perform these quick and frequent checklist-based audits. Therefore LPAs involve not only the working level team members (e.g. team leader or shift supervisor), internal auditors, but also department managers and ultimately the executive management level. Involving various levels of management demonstrates that conformance to requirements is everyone’s responsibility. 

What is audited during an LPA audit?

Each layer has their unique checklist and procedures. Generally, their main objectives include:

  1. Ensuring processes are correctly set up and adhered to.
  2. Logging corrective actions if necessary
  3. Documenting all modifications to the system.

The audit commences with an in-depth look at the work instructions for each production layer. After this initial assessment, the audit team evaluates the effectiveness of each layer. Furthermore, these audits also encompass:

  1. Talking to staff involved in production.
  2. Observing actual processes in action.
  3. Validating the correctness of records and paperwork.
  4. Checking the quality management systems
  5. Scrutinizing inventory management and monitoring methods.
  6. Ensuring compliance with applicable regulations or standards.

Regular feedback loops and continuous improvement mechanisms should also be established to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the audits and to adapt to evolving factory needs.

Layered Process Audit Frequency

The frequency of LPA audits depends on the hierarchical level of personnel conducting the audits. A typical LPA audit plan includes 3 layers that total up to a relatively high number of regularly scheduled audits:

  • Daily: layer 1 – supervisors or team leads who conduct audits at every shift
  • Weekly: layer – middle management who perform weekly or bi-weekly audits
  • Monthly or quarterly – layer 3 of plant managers or upper management / executives

Layered Process Audit software: efficient LPA Audits

From a practical perspective, in many cases this process happens with various paper checklists filled in by different personnel, many times per day or per week. This means the that Cost of Quality and quality appraisal costs can quickly escalate.

With this in mind, many plants have implemented software to digitize their Layered Process Audits to cut the paperwork and administrative busywork. The good news? There is no need for major IT projects or process changes: an app like GoAudits is user-friendly, easily available on everyone’s phone of tablet, works offline, and can be swiftly rolled out to all locations and personnel within days.

factory process audit software
Example of plant floor checks on tablet and phone

Here’s some of the key advantages of digitizing layered process audits on the plant floor with a software:

  1. Documentation: the user can take a picture and immediately attach it to document the non-conformance. Additional picture annotations and comments can be added as required.
  2. Visibility: any issues logged are immediately visible to Management or the right team members
  3. Scheduling & compliance: frequent daily checks are not always done by every team member and in every shift. Improve compliance with reminders and notifications.
  4. Analysis: see trends, how often a certain issue re-occurs, how frequently the audits take place, performance over time, and more.
  5. Accountability: assign corrective actions to the right team and track resolution. Receive alerts and setup escalations in case of delays or recurring non-conformances.
  6. Efficiencies! Save your team’s time, Management time, and save paper. All the information can be easily captured on the mobile device – no need to move data from paper, to emails or spreadsheets.
  7. Use standard checklists in all locations, and easily update them anytime, on everyone’s device.

Examples of Layered Process Auditing: efficient daily Quality Assurance on the plant floor

Many manufacturers have implemented the GoAudits for their Layered Process Audits, including daily production line checks, Good Manufacturing Practice checks, plant walk-throughs and more. For example, the instant cup noodle manufacturer Nissin Foods in the US increased the audit frequency and compliance – with over 96% completion for their daily checks. This includes audits of different production lines, product quality and integrity checks, packaging inspection, incident logging, inspection of different facility areas, and more.

Another example is our metallurgy customer Heat Treating Services, where the supervising team use GoAudits as part of the layered audit process, including higher-level plant and manufacturing process checks. The real-time digital communication has helped put everyone on the same page in terms of QA. Additionally, GoAudits enabled them to get ahead of the trends before they become a gross non-conformance. Their QA team consider GoAudits “a game-changer”, and said it was “the biggest no-brainer for our quality system in the past couple of years”!

You can read more of our customer success stories.

Beyond LPA Audits, improve all your quality and safety inspections

You can improve quality management and process performance through digital layered process audits. Moreover, manufacturers use GoAudits not only for their layered process audits (LPAs) and Quality Management, but also for other internal audits and inspections. The app can be easily customized for different manufacturing processes and locations.

Layered Process Audit Checklists & More

Other audit areas typically include daily, weekly or monthly checks. This covers areas such as health and safety, fire safety, cleaning, 5S, maintenance audits, warehouse walk-through and much more. We offer a library with 100s of checklist templates for different types of audits, in different industries.

You can also create your own checklist or ask us to digitize your checklists for you. Simply download GoAudits and try it for free!

Learn more about GoAudits Manufacturing Inspections Software.

Try the GoAudits Inspection App for FREE

It’s easy to get started with GoAudits! Book a personalized demo with our experts, or simply download the app and try it with a free 14-day trial (we even digitize your checklists for free!)