Aerospace Suppliers Take Heed of the Operational Impacts of AS9100 Rev. C
Announced early in 2011, the latest revision to AS9100—a standard first introduced in 1999 by SME and the European Association of Aerospace Industries—includes the widest scope of changes ever made to the standard. Of the 15,000 aerospace and defense suppliers certified to Rev. B, less than one-third of them (as of this writing) have completed their Rev. C certification.
Consequences are dire for those companies that do not achieve Rev. C compliance by the deadline of July 1, 2012. Aerospace and defense suppliers that fail to comply will be suspended from approved supplier lists, including the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS). In addition to losing future business by being removed from such lists, companies failing to comply by July 1 also place their existing business in jeopardy. OEMs face their own consequences if they maintain noncertified companies within their supply chain, so they may choose to change suppliers as needed.
Its wide scope of changes, aggressive deadline and dangerous consequences of noncompliance have made Rev. C a critical area of focus across the entire aerospace and defense industry.
Documentation, Record-Keeping, Process Traceability
For example, Rev. C requires that documents be stored within a manufacturer’s Quality Management System (QMS). Manufacturers must be able to immediately produce real-time records and documentation. Also, the manner in which records are stored must be secure and well-documented. Auditors will seek to identify what each company documents, how it documents information, how it retrieves records, who has access to records and how the company protects its QMS when data and records of external origin are introduced into the system. This includes records created or maintained by suppliers.
Rev. C also requires that manufacturers be able to identify and trace all steps in their manufacturing processes, from start to finish; record any issues that occur at any step of the process; and prevent problems before they cause nonconformances or require rework.
With Rev. C, the manufacturer must be able to identify the steps involved in every manufacturing process, such as the inspection of tooling, materials and machinery. For example, suppliers must be able to identify steps describing how tools are inspected, maintained and replaced at prescribed intervals.
Customer Satisfaction a Focal Point
Rev. C is more demanding than Rev. B when it comes to documenting and measuring customer satisfaction. For example, Rev. C requires aerospace suppliers to develop, deploy and maintain a customer-satisfaction improvement plan; track its performance to that plan; initiate corrective actions in response to negative trends; and report on the results of any corrective actions.
The plan must measure critical customer-satisfaction data, such as:
• Delivered part quality performance;
• Customer disruptions, including field returns;
• Delivery-schedule performance, including incidents of premium freight; and
• Customer notifications related to quality or delivery issues.
Solutions in the Cloud
While many aerospace and defense companies already had, prior to the introduction of Rev. C, transitioned from paper-based to electronic document-management processes, this transition is now an urgent need for those who have not. Cloud-based ERP systems that automate data collection and maintenance provide immediate accessibility to real-time data. Many systems can be deployed quickly and without significant upfront cost.
Aerospace suppliers should seek cloud ERP systems that integrate traditional ERP functions with plant-floor functions, the company’s QMS, supply-chain management capabilities and other critical business and operational functions. A fully integrated system eliminates the need for redundant data entry, patches between systems and any delays in pulling and sharing real-time reports and documentation.
Burden or Opportunity?
Manufacturers often view new regulations as a burden that will consume time and resources. While it’s true that, for those companies that have relied on paper-based processes and disparate or out-of-date systems, the changes needed to meet Rev. C will require a great deal of work, the long-term benefits should outweigh the short-term investment.
Those that use the latest cloud-based ERP technologies experience streamlined operations, increased productivity, reduced scrap and other benefits. Not only does it make it easy for manufacturers to meet the tough requirements of Rev. C, but they’re also well-positioned for improved competitiveness and growth. MF
Francis Louis Charbonneau and John Lundy have produced a series of webinars discussing the impacts of Rev. C. The webinars have been recorded and are available from Plex Systems, on demand, at erp.plex.com/forms/operational-impacts-revc-charbonneau.
See also: Plex Systems, Inc.
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