Episode 3 where Ivan Verwulgen try Sven Vanden Eeden’s job as a weldmaster can be viewed here.
Auditors – Guardians of quality
Quality rolls through everything we do at Volvo Cars. Who makes sure we keep to the highest of standards on our finished cars? Auditors – the pickiest of the picky.
They carefully examine the lacquer, look and feel for any imperfections. They remove all covers and check every single cord and tube. They pour 2,400 litres of water over a car in four minutes. They test the electronics and the digital systems. They drive each car for 50 kilometres in various environments, listening to sounds and evaluating measurements. And more.
All remarks are then carefully noted and reported back to the plant departments to correct and improve. They, in this case, are the auditors – literally the guardians of quality in our Volvo car factories.
At the Ghent plant, a team of 16 are responsible for the external audit, the quality check, of our factory-complete cars. Inge De Meyer supervises the group:
“A computer programme randomly pick cars, and we have to check a mix of models and cars for different markets every week. The external audit is an extension of the regular quality check, which all cars go through. Here we really examine everything,” Inge says.
Being an auditor requires a real attention to detail and an ability to stay focused. All personnel go through several interviews and tests during recruitment. The department hunts for the best people in the plant, often team leaders and quality minded operators who are interested in a new challenge. But as Inge De Meyer says, it’s not for the faint hearted:
“Since you work independently and are responsible for making remarks or not, you must also be able to take some pressure and criticism, because people in the plant don’t always agree with your view.”
For auditor Peter Van Gyseghem, the main challenge is to stay on top of tasks and always have the knowledge needed to do the best job, especially when new models are introduced regularly.
“New car models demand more attention from us” Peter says. “New issues may surface in the initial production phase and it takes time to establish an in-depth knowledge of those new models.”
The Ghent plant started building the new XC40 small SUV back in November. The plant will also start producing cars from the sister brand Lynk & Co at the end of next year, in addition to Volvo models in the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA).
With new models comes new technology. For the auditors this is a challenge, requiring more learning for new systems and features, and processes for how to review the quality.
“The cars we audit today seem like they’re from another dimension compared to what we had here a couple of decades ago,” Peter Van Gyseghem says. “They are high-tech masterpieces. We are the tool that measures the quality output, and our feedback to the plant is crucial for a continuous improvement of these vehicles.”
– The external audit department in Ghent checks 30-35 cars per week.
– Each car review takes around eight hours, one full working day.
– At Volvo Cars, we have a Global Audit Team, which works to synchronise and educate the audit groups in our plants around the world.
Interested to see earlier job swaps? Go to this page.