All industries need quality management, but the aviation, space, and defense (ASD) or aerospace sector particularly benefits from its importance. Strict regulations are in place, fraudulent components are a major concern, and products must function consistently to ensure safety.
You can provide consistent quality and lower risks by following the requirements of the aerospace industry’s specific quality management standard, AS9100.
This guide to implementing AS9100 covers the standard’s requirements, its benefits, and how to implement it.
What Does AS9100 Stand For?
The most recent standard for companies that design, develop, or offer aviation, space, and defense products and services, including parts, components, and assemblies, is EN9100:2018, also known as AS9100D or AS9100. The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) developed the standard with assistance from representatives of aviation, space, and defense companies in the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe.
EN9100:2018 standardizes the requirements for quality management systems for businesses involved in the aerospace industry and supply chain, much like previous iterations of AS9100. The standard accomplishes this by adding sector-specific guidelines for the secure development, production, and distribution of high-quality aerospace parts and products to the general ISO 9001 standards for quality management systems.
Organizations from all over the world can obtain AS9100 certification to enhance their performance in terms of quality, cost, and delivery. This was achieved by scaling back or getting rid of organization-specific requirements, putting a quality management system in place effectively, and using more ethical business practices.
The IAQG has also developed two additional, more specialized aerospace management standards, AS9110 and AS9120, in addition to AS9100, which is a general aerospace industry standard. The former, Aerospace Management Systems for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Stations, amends AS9100 to include new requirements for the upkeep of civil, military, and private aircraft.
The latter, Aerospace Management Systems for Stockists and Distributors, adds specifications for the production of aerospace materials and component sourcing. NQA is able to evaluate adherence to AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120.
Many aerospace manufacturers and suppliers will only work with certified partners because AS9100 certification helps ensure an organization has adequate quality management systems in place. As a result, AS9100 certification is something that every business involved in aerospace should think about.
Who Does This Standard Apply To?
As a sector-specific quality management system standard, AS9100 is primarily used by businesses that produce goods and offer services to the aerospace, defense, and space sectors. Any company that works in the aerospace industry or has aerospace partners is subject to the AS9100D standard, including:
- Manufacturers of aircraft components and materials
- Designers of aerospace parts and assemblies
- Quality management organizations working with aerospace manufacturers
- Other companies working in the aerospace industry regularly or irregularly
Although it is not required by law, AS9100 certification is frequently necessary for efficient participation in the aerospace, defense, and space industries. Achieving AS9100 certification can open doors to major OEMs and other players in the supply chain.
When Was The AS9100 Standard Released?
The ISO 9001:1994 standard served as the foundation for the initial release of the AS9100 standard in 1999. The following changes were made to the standard:
- Updated from ISO 9001:2000 in 2001, AS9100 Rev. A also permits a legacy system built on ISO 9001:1994.
- The 2004 release of AS9100 Rev B only contained updates to ISO 9001:2000.
- Updates to ISO 9001:2008 were included in the 2009 release of AS9100 Rev C.
The most recent version of the specification, AS9100 Rev D, was published in 2016 and updated to include the 2015 ISO 9001 requirements.
Is It An International Standard?
Simply put, yes. The ISO 9001 standard, which was published by the International Organization for Standardization and is, as previously mentioned, a widely accepted standard, serves as the foundation for AS9100.
Additionally, the International Aerospace Quality Group, which publishes AS9100, is a group with representatives from businesses all over the world.
Why Is AS9100 Certification Important?
Better Customer Satisfaction
The AS9100 standard mandates that you concentrate your efforts on comprehending your customers’ needs in order to more effectively meet their needs. More repeat business and, consequently, higher future sales are correlated with higher customer satisfaction.
Improved Company Image
Enhanced brand recognition with AS9100 is now expected by customers by default because it is the internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems in aerospace businesses. It will be very challenging, if not impossible, to fulfill your first order for a customer if they expect you to have AS9100 certification.
If the customer doesn’t make their first purchase, you won’t be able to convince them of the quality of your goods and services, and you’ll lose them as a client even before you begin.
AS9100 promotes making decisions based on facts and data rather than hazy assumptions and integrates your top management into the QMS. Making decisions based on data will help you direct your efforts toward pressing problems, which could result in cost savings.
AS9100 emphasizes understanding how these processes interact and is based on the process approach to understanding how you provide your products and services. You can identify and remove systemic inefficiencies for better product and service delivery by adopting this perspective on your entire business process.
Engaging Your Employees
You can make sure that your processes are working as expected by defining and mapping them and involving the individuals who are part of them in the activity. You can also engage your workforce in efforts to improve processes and increase customer satisfaction. Who could improve your procedures and look for time and money-saving opportunities better?
Better Supplier Relationships
By putting a priority on relationships that are mutually beneficial, you can find ways to collaborate with your suppliers to raise customer satisfaction. Suppliers who cooperate with you can provide you with goods that are quicker and less expensively delivered and better suited to your needs.
You can establish long-term contracts with suppliers who benefit from your partnership and who can help you save time and money in the long run.
Finding ways to make the management system progressively better over time, or through continual improvement, is one of the fundamental ideas ingrained in the AS9100 requirements.
Your engaged workforce can be focused on finding ways to make the processes they are involved in better, faster, and more affordable by implementing improvements into your daily operations.
By using your quality management system in this way, you will experience savings in both time and money over the years.
What Is An AS9100 Audit?
A crucial step in the Quality Management System procedures is the AS9100 audit. In general, an audit involves gathering evidence of what is occurring in the processes and comparing it to the processes’ intended arrangements.
When actual activities match planned activities, the audit’s goal is to confirm conformance; however, if processes are not going as expected, this is noted. This audit evidence is gathered through interviews, observations, and documentation reviews.
The organization hires individuals to carry out internal audits of the processes and provide feedback to the business on how well the processes are performing in comparison to the plans as part of the QMS.
Many businesses will also employ impartial, outside certification auditors to assess their systems against the AS9100 requirements and issue a certification that all requirements have been met. The term for this is AS9100 certification.
To acquire and demonstrate the abilities necessary to audit the management system, both internal auditors and certification auditors need AS9100 training.
How Long Does It Take To Get AS0199 Certified?
You must consider how long it will take to implement the system before you can have the certification audit when figuring out the cost of AS9100 certification. Each company has a unique certification process for AS9100, so this will vary from company to company.
For instance, your QMS will likely take longer to implement than one that does not include design and development.
The complexity of the configuration management system, the management of counterfeit parts, and the implementation of product safety requirements are additional factors that lengthen the time of implementation in an aerospace company.
Use a gap analysis tool to compare what you currently have in place with the requirements in order to estimate how long it might take to implement AS9100 in your company.
Requirements For AS9100 Certification
Planning For Product Realization
In the project and configuration management aspects of production and control of work transfers between facilities and suppliers, AS9100 places an additional emphasis on risk management and assessment, according to Quality.
These requirements cover information provided to vendors and controls put in place on purchased goods that might be released before verification. They also deal with supplier control.
Design And Development
The procedures for design validation and verification, as well as the guidelines for testing and documenting each stage, are covered in this section.
Design verification entails creating a piece on paper and calculating all requirements, inputs, metrics, and laws to determine where the product satisfies or needs to satisfy, industry standards.
A prototype, also known as a first production unit or an engineered model, is created as part of the validation process to represent the first production run of a novel and intricate design.
Product Monitoring And Measurement Rules
These regulations cover quality measuring capacities, including measures for rejection and for non-conforming processes.
In 2018, Revision D added the following elements to AS9100:
- Product Safety
- Counterfeit Parts Prevention
- Risk clause was merged with the new ISO 9001 risk requirements along with an increased emphasis on risks in operational processes
- Awareness clause was added with reinforced requirements for awareness of individual contribution to product and service quality and safety along with ethical behavior
- Human Factors are included as a consideration in nonconformity management and corrective action
- Configuration Management was clarified and improved to address stakeholder needs
Steps To Certification
Step 1: Learn About The Requirements
The first step in the process after deciding to pursue AS9100 certification is to educate yourself on the standard and its requirements. A copy of the standard and any necessary supplementary materials, such as AS9101, which outlines the conditions for planning and carrying out the audit process, should be obtained first. Additionally, you might want to get a copy of ISO 9001.
Take some time to become familiar with the appropriate standards and supporting documents once you have copies of them, as doing so will make the transition process easier.
You can become familiar with the requirements of AS9100 and where your company stands in relation to meeting them by reading the standards documents themselves. AS9101 will help you get familiar with the audit and certification processes. You may also want to start looking into the procedures that various companies use for auditing.
Step 2: Perform A Gap Analysis
A gap analysis is a crucial first step in the procedure. Comparing your company’s current practices to those demanded by the standard to which you’re seeking certification is known as a “gap analysis,” also known as a pre-audit.
This analysis informs your implementation plan by highlighting the gaps between your company’s current state and its certification-required state. Your implementation procedure may be more involved if you find more or wider gaps. The implementation process might be simpler if the gaps are small.
The person performing a gap analysis will typically do the following:
- Compare the requirements of the standard to your current quality management system.
- List the areas where your system complies and fails to comply with the requirements of the standard.
- Depending on the findings of the gap analysis, discuss with management what should be included in the project plan.
The assessor will create a report after the gap analysis is complete that typically contains the following information:
- where your business already complies with the standard’s requirements
- Where your business is not adhering to the standard’s requirements
- Recommendations that could serve as the basis for the implementation strategy
You can begin to develop a project plan that fills in the gaps you identified using the data from your gap analysis.
Step 3: Create An Implementation Plan
The next step is to use the findings of your gap analysis to begin developing your plan for implementing AS9100 in your company. This strategy will outline how to put AS9100 into practice and should include precise, measurable objectives and achievable deadlines.
Your quality manual and procedures will be designed and documented as you create your plan. Examining your current processes and redesigning them as necessary to bring them into compliance with AS9100 is a significant part of finishing this. You must set up procedures for regulating these procedures, including documentation.
For complete AS9100 compliance, every task that needs to be completed must be described in detail in your implementation plan. You should list the relevant AS9100 section, the necessary paperwork, the team member or individuals in charge, any required approvals, any necessary training, any necessary resources, and the anticipated completion date for each task.
Along with the advantages, your plan should address the expenses of certification and implementation. You can use this information to budget for costs, defend expenditures, and gain support from management and staff.
Step 4: Design Documentation
A crucial component of implementing AS9100 is controlling processes through documentation. You must record your processes as quality system procedures once you have created or altered them to comply with the standard.
Your documentation will enable you to verify compliance while assisting in directing your processes. As long as your documentation complies with the requirements of the standard, you can design it to meet the particular needs of your organization.
Starting with the bare minimum needed for documentation can be useful. Include your documentation in your implementation strategy, and create more as necessary.
Step 5: Train Your Employees
You must make sure that all employees are informed about the decision to implement AS9100, how it will affect them, and what the implementation process will entail in order for it to go smoothly. Additionally, it’s crucial to inform staff members of the advantages of AS9100 certification, as this can foster buy-in.
All workers who will assist in putting the standard into practice and enabling compliance with it should get the training they require to do their jobs. Before starting the implementation process, make sure employees have enough time to finish the training.
Step 6: Implement Your Plan
The next step is to put your plan into action. Of course, the AS9100 implementation procedure will differ from business to business depending on the gaps found during the gap analysis and the tasks listed in the implementation plan. Run your quality management system as per your plan for a few months, being sure to pay close attention to the procedures.
Adjust as necessary if problems occur during implementation or you find areas for improvement. Make sure that all pertinent employees are informed of all changes, and meticulously document all of them.
Conduct initial audits to find room for improvement and to assist with certification preparation. Create a preliminary AS9100 audit checklist and use it to assess the areas of your system where it is performing well and those where it needs to be improved. Verify that your procedures adhere to AS9100 standards. Keep track of the findings from your initial audits and use them to inform any necessary adjustments.
Step 7: Choose A Certification Body
After establishing your quality management system and performing your first audits, you can start researching third-party certification organizations (CB). Investigate each certification body’s credentials and experience, then assess what they have to offer.
Choose a company that has the right accreditation, is knowledgeable about AS9100 certification, and aims to assist you in improving your organization through audits. The value you receive from the audit and certification process will be increased if you select a certification body with these characteristics.
Step 8: Audit And Certify
You are now prepared to start the process of third-party auditing and certification. This step of the process ensures that you comply with the standard’s requirements. You can become certified to AS9100 if you successfully complete the necessary audits.
You must submit an application to the certification body you’ve chosen after making your choice. You will provide the certification body with information about your business, the standard you’re looking to be certified to, and any additional requirements when you fill out this application. We define the scope of assessment you require using the data you supply, and we then present a proposal for certification.
The assessment phase of the AS9100 certification process comes after you have accepted a proposal for certification. Initially, a CB must make two visits as part of the certification audit. You must finish a management review of the system and a complete cycle of initial audits before starting the initial certification audit process.
The initial certification audit’s stage one assessment’s goal is to determine whether your business is ready for a full assessment. At your management system center, which is typically your head office, a review of the supporting documentation is conducted as part of the stage one assessment.
During the stage one assessment, your certification body will:
- Verify the accuracy of the data your organization provided during the application process.
- Verify that your management system has been in operation for at least three months.
- Check your certification’s purview.
- Ensure adherence to the law
You will receive a report outlining any non-compliance or areas for improvement found during the stage one assessment after it is finished. You will also need to decide on a corrective action plan, if necessary. If your organization is found to be compliant, you will arrange your Stage 2 assessment visit and finish the Stage 2 assessment plan.
The certification body will determine whether your quality management system fully complies with AS9100 requirements during the stage two audit. This audit will include any site work your business is doing as well as all locations that fall under the purview of your certification.
During the second assessment visit, the certification body will:
- To prove that your system complies with the standard, use unbiased evidence.
- Conduct test audits of the procedures and activities covered by the certification.
- Verify that the management system complies with AS9100 requirements.
- To assess how the management system works off-site, visit any remote locations, remote sites, or other additional sites.
- Record any noncompliance and opportunities for improvement, and report them.
Until your organization takes corrective action and a CB can verify the corrective action, the certification body will not be able to issue the certification if the assessor finds any significant non-conformances.
The certification body will decide whether to certify you if your company passes the stage two audit and, if the decision is favorable, it will issue a certification to AS9100. Your certification will come to you in both hard copy and digital form. You must complete annual surveillance audits and a recertification audit in order to maintain this certification, which is only good for three years. In the section after this, we’ll go into more detail about maintaining your certification.
Step 9: Maintain Your Certification
You must successfully complete a surveillance audit every year and a recertification audit every three years in order to keep your certification. During the three-year certification cycle, surveillance audits, which are only partial audits, make sure that your organization continues to adhere to the standards you’ve selected.
You must demonstrate during surveillance audits that your system has been getting regular upgrades. Your organization’s size and organizational structure, the risk and complexity of your operations, the number of standards covered by your certification, and the number of sites covered by the certification will all affect how long your surveillance audits last.
Companies change over time. Your company may change the locations and activities it engages in, the number of employees it employs, and other factors. Inform your certification body as soon as you can if you make any changes of this nature during your three-year certification period. The scope of your certification, your management system, or other program components can then be adjusted.
Is AS9100 Certification Right for My Organization?
This standard can be used in other industry sectors when a quality management system with more stringent requirements than an ISO 9001:2015 system is required, despite being primarily developed for the aviation, space, and defense industries. All ISO 9001:2015 requirements for quality management systems are included in EN9100:2018, along with additional definitions and requirements specific to the aviation, space, and defense industries.
Although obtaining AS9100 certification requires work, many businesses find the effort to be worthwhile. If any of the following apply, you might want to think about implementing the AS9100-compliant systems:
- Want to expand your ability to do business in the aerospace sector
- Hope to improve your quality management systems and lower risk
- Are already certified to ISO 9001 standard
Because AS9100 and related standards are based on ISO 9001, companies that already follow ISO 9001’s fundamental quality management guidelines may find that implementing the systems required to meet AS9100 requirements is quicker and easier. If you decide to pursue certification, you can be sure that your choice is a positive one for your aerospace business.
Getting a copy of the AS9100D standard and the supporting standard AS9101 (Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space, and Defense Organizations) from SAE would be a good place to start if you wanted to become AS9100D certified. The specific specifications that your management system must follow are provided by these standards.
Selecting a certification body is something you’ll need to do after looking over the standards. NQA can assist you in comprehending the requirements of the AS9100 certification procedure and performing exacting, improvement-focused audits as an accredited certification body.
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