When companies choose to pursue ISO certification, they are agreeing to a rigorous process of identification, documentation, and strategic improvement that touches nearly every aspect of their business. Even the most structured organizations can struggle to meet the requirements of certain sections of a standard.
Specific to AS9100 (QMS Standard for Aviation, Space and Defense Manufacturers), we notice recurring problem areas for our clients. We reached out to our consultants to define exactly where the shortcomings occur, and we aim to create awareness for companies who plan to pursue this certification.
You’ll find that the AS9100 requirements are closely linked to the ISO 9001 quality standard. Most companies are fully capable of fulfilling those base requirements, but struggle with the added requirements of the AS9100 standard.
There are four topics, specifically, that seem to continuously prove to be pain points.
Due to the high-risk nature of the aerospace and defense industry, the standard sets stringent requirements related to product safety, both through production and in their function. Companies who deliver a finished product have an easier time identifying and testing the expected function of the end-product, but others who work at the component level don’t have as easy of a time identifying what safety means for their deliverable. Those businesses have to consider not only their own requirements, but also their customer’s product structure and the way their component plays a part in the final assembly process. They are able to test their own product’s function, but not the way in which it will interact with other components. These are the unknowns that cause challenges when attempting to guarantee complete product safety.
Transversely, companies who deliver component pieces often have a more streamlined and simple assembly process, so their assurance of proper and documented configuration management is more straightforward. This process becomes much harder for companies who are making more complex assemblies or end products. As the number of steps through production increases, safeguards multiply, and the measurement of each action can easily become overwhelming. Additionally, these multifaceted processes increase the need for proper training and evaluation of competence, which further increases the required workload as organizations work toward certification.
Tied, again, to the safety of the end product or service, the verification of sourced materials to avoid counterfeit parts is a crucial requirement of AS9100. Certificates of conformity are not always enough. Thorough testing of function prior to acceptance of parts ensures they won’t compromise the performance and safety of the deliverable.
In addition to parts verification, organizations are sometimes required to send samples out for independent composition analyses on raw materials like metal, oils, and plastics. These test reports must then be validated, and organizations sometimes have to incur additional costs to work with third-party test facilities to ensure their raw materials meet requirements.
Once the proper controls have been put in place to monitor and measure inputs, companies must then ensure that they clearly communicate their expectations to their suppliers. Doing so allows them to get in front of the risk of sourcing products or services, and helps suppliers understand acceptable limits in the component they are providing.
Each organization that approaches AS9100 standard certification will be faced with struggles and challenges specific to their business. When our clients find themselves at a stand-still due to uncertainty of how to move forward, our consultants are able to help them navigate through the process and find the solution that will keep them on the path to certification. Their guidance helps businesses stay in front of potential time-consuming pit-falls that can jeopardize their compliance efforts, and their expert knowledge gives them the strategies needed to navigate through any problem areas that may arise.
For more information on how to meet AS9100 requirements, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 866.354.0300.