THE AS9100 STANDARD
WHAT EXACTLY IS AS9100?
AS9100 is an international standard containing requirements for establishing and maintaining a quality management system for the aerospace industry.
To assure high levels of customer satisfaction, aerospace industry organizations need to produce, and continually improve, safe and reliable products that meet or exceed the requirements of customers and regulatory authorities. A quality management system is set up by an organization to achieve high levels of customer atisfaction and continual improvement, focusing on common requirements and the reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain. This is done by:
• establishing a quality policy and quality objectives
• establishing the means to achieve those objectives
Rather than specify requirements for your final product – what you produce – AS9100 focuses further “upstream” on the processes – or how you produce. AS9100 requires documented systems for controlling the processes you use to develop and produce your products. This standard is based on the idea that there are certain elements every
quality management system must have in place in order to ensure that safe, quality products are consistently provided to the customer on time.
AS9100 includes the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 plus additional requirements for a quality management system for the aerospace industry. It was prepared by SAE International: The Engineering Society for Advancing Mobility in Land, Sea, Air and Space,® with support from the ISO technical committee responsible for Quality Management and
Quality Assurance, which includes representatives from countries around the world.
WHAT IS THE “PROCESS APPROACH”?
ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems – Fundamentals and Vocabulary defines a process as a “set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs.”
In a company, the output of a process often becomes the input to another “downstream” process. For example, when a customer order is received and reviewed by the Sales Department, the output of the “Sales Order Review Process” may be the generation of a production order, which becomes one of the inputs to the production process.
By identifying and managing all “processes” in your company and the interactions and handoffs between these processes, your company is embracing the “Process Approach” to management.
The AS9100 standard is divided into five main sections that state requirements for the primary process “categories” in your company:
• Quality Management System processes, including developing the QMS documentation, documentation control and records control.
• Management processes, including planning and management review.
• Resource management processes, including human resources, infrastructure, and the work environment.
• Product realization (production) processes, including sales order review, product design, purchasing, calibration, and the actual “production” of your product or service.
• Measurement, analysis and improvement processes, including internal auditing, inspection, testing, and corrective/preventive action.
WHAT DOES BEING “REGISTERED” MEAN?
Companies may be “registered” (or “receive certification”) to AS9100 by applying to a registrar and paying a registration fee. A registrar is a company that will audit your company’s quality management system to see if it is meeting all the necessary requirements.
WHY WOULD MY COMPANY WANT TO BE REGISTERED?
A major reason that most companies want to become registered is that their customers are demanding it. Registration to AS9100 assures your customers that you have a quality management system with the ability to produce, and continually improve, safe, reliable products on time. Some of the other benefits a company might expect to see include:
• Competitive advantages in marketing an improved “quality” image
• Better performance of internal operations (less scrap / rework)
• Better quality
• Fewer customer audits
• A stronger focus on customer satisfaction and continual improvement
• Better company-wide communication
• Decreased costs
• Better documentation
All of the above changes can lead to higher levels of financial security for the company and its employees.