Dana Launches Internal Quality Certification for Personnel Based on AIAG’s Core Tools Self-Assessment

by Greg Creason | Feb 24, 2016

SOUTHFIELD, Michigan, February 24, 2016 — 
David Kneisler, vice president, global quality for Dana Holding Corporation, provided a snapshot into his company’s personnel development journey at the recent Southern Automotive Quality Summit, sponsored by AIAG and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association. Held January 28, 2016 in Birmingham, Alabama, the one-day event showcased the Southern automotive industry’s commitment to world-class quality.

Kneisler’s session, titled “Personnel Development and Continuous Improvement — Utilizing AIAG Core Tool Products,” was a case study on Dana’s experience with AIAG’s Core Tools Self-Assessment.

In an interview with AIAG Quality eNews, Kneisler says, “We examined all our opportunities for personnel development, and one of our main requirements was that the solution would be available to all our quality staff,” noting that Dana employs approximately 23,000 people in 25 countries on six continents. “AIAG’s assessment made that part easy because it’s online and available in English, Korean, Chinese, and Russian.”

Kneisler says Dana used AIAG’s Core Tools Self-Assessment to get a professional knowledge baseline established among Dana’s quality engineers and managers. “It had been a while since we had the opportunity to assess our quality team on the basics,” he says. “The Core Tools are the foundation of all we do in a product launch, so it was the obvious assessment to use.”

Kneisler calls the Core Tools the “building blocks for quality knowledge and performance in the automotive industry,” adding that they are required by many OEMs and Tier One suppliers. In addition, third-party auditors must be certified so that they can effectively audit these Core Tools, which include:

Kneisler says Dana asked its quality staff around the globe to take AIAG’s online self-assessment, emphasizing to employees that the timed, open-book test was completely anonymous. “We didn’t want people thinking that we would use this to evaluate someone’s job performance or that it would affect their future advancement,” Kneisler says, “and we made clear that it was not a competition among employees, either. We did this strictly for continuous improvement.”

Dana asked employees to take the self-assessment the first time without advance preparation or study, just to get a sense of their Core Tools knowledge. The scores averaged about where Kneisler thought they would — in the low 70s, which is on par with the rest of the industry.

“It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t stellar either,” Kneisler says. To encourage employees to score higher, Dana developed its own Core Tools Certification, which is awarded when the employee scores a minimum of 80 percent on all four scoring categories in a single sitting.

To help employees pursuing the certification to reach the minimum 80 percent score, Dana provided them with access to all the AIAG Core Tools e-learning they would need to brush up. “You don’t use every skill you’ve ever learned every day on the job,” Kneisler points out, “so it’s perfectly natural to return to original Core Tools resources for an occasional review. We made it easy by providing them with the e-docs so they didn’t have to go searching for a book. We also gave them access to quality experts on Dana’s staff so they could get their questions answered,” he says. “Kind of like using ‘phone a friend’ when you get stuck.”

Employees can take the Core Tools self-assessment multiple times if needed to reach the 80 percent threshold. Once they do, they turn in their self-assessment scores to Dana, which awards the employee with the Dana Core Tools Certification.

“It wasn’t long before the people who spent time studying scored well into the 80s,” Kneisler says. “We’ve seen quick, immediate results. I get one or two emails a week of people who have passed their Dana Core Tools Certification.”

Employees have embraced the opportunity, he adds, “because we’ve given them access to the information they need, and they get recognized for it.” In addition, he says that practicing quality engineers and managers know that their Core Tools knowledge is key to their careers. Dana is planning to expand the Core Tools certification opportunity to its application and process engineers as well.

Kneisler says he expects more companies to make use of the AIAG Core Tools Self-Assessment, as more of them know it’s available. “AIAG members should take advantage of all the free tools and information afforded them as part of their membership,” Kneisler advises. “Giving members pervasive access to the information they need is what makes our members successful.”

The Core Tools Self-Assessment is open to anyone who wants to take it — member or non-member. However, having your employees’ scores analyzed with high-level metrics by AIAG quality experts is a free service only available to member companies.

Magna and Paccar are also taking their employees through the AIAG Core Tools Self-Assessment; Kneisler urges all Tier One and lower tier suppliers to take advantage and get the results analyzed by AIAG.

Based on Dana’s experience, his only advice to fellow members is to get engagement from middle management at the onset. “They must get that it’s about people development at the plant level. They need to understand how this will impact their people,” he says.

“The industry must facilitate our people’s ability to keep learning,” Kneisler sums up. “Our customers expect us to be quality experts.”

About AIAG

The Automotive Industry Action Group is a unique not-for-profit organization where OEMs, suppliers, service providers, government entities, and individuals in academia have worked collaboratively for more than 30 years to drive down costs and complexity from the supply chain. AIAG membership includes preeminent manufacturers and many of their parts suppliers and service providers. For more information, visit