Worldwide lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the Corona pandemic have severely restricted or rendered important corporate processes and activities virtually impossible over the past year. Audits are no exception in this context. For many industries, however, audits are necessary in order to ramp up new production lines, because they serve not only to ensure quality, but also to track production steps in real time and to check product quality.
Normally, these audits were carried out by customers or partners of the company in person, but with current travel restrictions this will continue to be complicated for the foreseeable future. Therefore, we at AT&S decided to try a different approach: Virtual Audits.
Michael Monschein, Head of Corporate Quality Assurance, developed this project. “With the help of a helmet camera or a gimbal, one of our technicians can walk through our production facilities and show any customer or participant the important production steps within PCB production,” he explains.
Thanks to modern technology, this is actually a surprisingly simple process. By attaching a smartphone to a gimbal, the live transmission can begin. This gimbal automatically stabilises the image and the movements to avoid blurry images.
All participants can take part in these virtual audits via a collaborative tool that connects individuals- similar to a Zoom meeting. In doing so, the auditor not only has the ability to access all necessary documents, but also to communicate with the participants in real time. “However, these virtual audits are by invite-only. The participants receive the invitation from us with all the important information and only then can they log in,” clarifies Monschein. Such security precautions are essential in order to be able to carry out the project at all.
From mid-March, AT&S will invite the first external customers to our virtual audits. Further, it is planned to continue these virtual audits even after the pandemic has passed. By enabling such a remote access and eliminating the need for customers and partners to travel in person, we can additionally contribute to environmental protection and reduce our carbon footprint.