Solaris Bus & Coach S.A.
Ingenics AG Quality Project at Polish Bus Manufacturer Solaris Bus & Coach S.A.
Investments in efficiency pay off: customers appreciate greater supplier dependability
The bus market shows a trend toward products with individual equipment. In order to continue supplying tailored high-quality buses to its customers in 32 countries, Polish manufacturer Solaris Bus & Coach S.A., based in Bolechowo near Poznań, commissioned Ingenics AG to develop a sustainable quality strategy. It was an impressively successful project: intelligent optimization clearly pays dividends very quickly.
- Reduced assembly faults in the pilot area of production by 25 percent
- Reduced occurrence of errors in final inspection by 28 percent
- Improved customer satisfaction Improved product quality and process quality
- Improved understanding of quality
The number of buses needed on the road is rising in both large cities and metropolitan areas as well as in the intercity travel segment. While more and more cities and regions are focusing on hybrid and electric vehicles, long-distance carriers can still only consider vehicle models with combustion engines. In all areas of use, however, manufacturers are experiencing growing customer demand for individually configured buses. Conversely, there is hardly any desire for “off-the-shelf” commercial vehicles. In other words, there is a clear trend toward one-piece manufacturing. For production, this entails significant challenges with regard to process and product quality. This makes investments in efficiency and quality all the more worthwhile.
Against this background, Solaris Bus & Coach S.A. – the market leader in Poland among manufacturers of city buses, intercity coaches and low-floor trams – decided to respond to growing product flexibility requirements with a comprehensive quality improvement project. With Ingenics as a partner working with the Solaris team, it was agreed that quality improvement and efficiency optimization strategies should be based on an analysis of current processes. Problems would be solved by examining root causes and learning from any errors identified.
Once the need for action had been outlined and some initial objectives were established, the team developed targets for quality improvement, quality management, error reduction, and error sourcing processes. These objectives were then used to derive appropriate measures to increase efficiency. Working on this foundation, efforts soon began to address the most important issues. Systematic fault management proved to be especially relevant because error sourcing immediately led to preventive measures, which in turn had a direct positive effect on timely delivery. Additionally, it was clear to see that a structured approach to analyzing sources of error had a positive influence on the understanding of quality among employees. Ultimately, the targets agreed with the management and company directors provided an essential basis for establishing new control and quality loops as well as defining tasks, competencies, and responsibilities. They also made it possible to develop the necessary documentation and to introduce a regular reporting system for error prevention.
The management of Solaris Bus & Coach S.A. were most convinced by the design and implementation of a continuous improvement process (CIP) – a guarantee that the new achievements and quality standards will not be neglected after a certain length of time. Within a few weeks, the intelligent optimization measures introduced by Ingenics in collaboration with the Solaris team had a noticeable and enduring impact, benefiting Solaris in Poland and Germany as well as in other European markets.
The most significant outcomes of the project can also be expressed in figures: the occurrence of errors in final inspection was reduced by 28 percent, while the number of assembly faults in the pilot area of production was down by 25 percent. Also important are general improvements in terms of process and product quality as well as customer satisfaction. Given these encouraging figures and experiences, the project was subsequently rolled out in other areas of production.
The management team at Solaris were immediately impressed by the clear benefits of the project, which include significant improvements to the quality of production processes, a systematic approach to reducing errors, and a high level of transparency at all times. Furthermore, long-term solutions were found given that it was not only a case of treating symptoms, but dealing with the causes of errors and involving in-house experts in the relevant departments.