What Is an AS9100 Audit?
Companies operating in the aerospace industry are held to high standards, and these expectations are upheld for good reason. Problems in flight and other failures are unacceptable as they pose great danger to pilots, engineers, and civilians. In order to ensure aerospace businesses meet relevant requirements and standards, you must orchestrate an AS9100 audit.
The AS9100 audit ensures that aerospace companies maintain consistent, reliable, and high-quality standards in their work.
What Is the AS9100 Certificate?
The AS9100 certificate signifies that an aerospace company has met the high AS standards expected of such operations. These certifications verify that your company is operating efficiently, effectively, and safely.
In order to earn the AS9100 certificate, aerospace companies must meet ISO 9001 standards, as well.
ISO 9001 vs AS9100
The ISO 9001 standard is not exclusive to the aerospace industry. Instead, it is a broadly-used standard for assessing and implementing quality management systems in any industry. The universality of ISO 9001 is intentional; it can be used in virtually any field to improve operations.
Conversely, AS9100 is designed explicitly for the aerospace industry, encompassing the aviation, space, and defense sectors.
While AS9100 and ISO 9001 are technically separate, the AS9100 standard uses the ISO 9001 requirements and simply adds specifications relevant to the aerospace industry in italicized and or bolded print throughout the document.
What Is AS9100 Rev D?
What Is AS9100 Rev D?The AS9100 standard comes from the International Aerospace Quality Group, whose members consist of representatives from aerospace companies around the world. As a modified version of the ISO 9001 standard, the AS9100 outlines specific requirements for quality management systems for companies in the aerospace industry.
Originally released in 1999, the AS9100 has undergone several revisions and updates. The most recent update is referred to as AS9100 Rev D. AS9100 Rev D is the fourth edition; it was released in 2015 to reflect updates made to ISO 9001.
Some unique features of AS9100 Rev D include a focus on counterfeited parts, the impact of human factors, product safety, ethics training, supplier and delivery monitoring, and more.
Who Needs an AS9100 Certificate?
Companies within the aviation, space, and defense industries should obtain an AS9100 certificate. Specifically, aerospace industry suppliers and companies that supply post-delivery service to the industry must earn this certification.
Getting an AS9100 certification assures customers and business partners that your business not only meets expected standards for operations but also strives to provide high-quality products and services.
Aerospace Industry Suppliers
Aerospace industry suppliers who obtain an AS9100 certificate will demonstrate their commitment to their customers. Ensuring that your quality management system meets AS9100 standards promotes increased customer trust and satisfaction through enhancements such as improved product and service quality.
Vendors that fall into the category of aerospace industry supplies are often the companies that more commonly pursue AS9100 certifications.
Companies That Provide Post Delivery Support or Service to the Aerospace Industry
Following the distribution of aerospace products (or the fulfillment of aerospace services), post-delivery support is another component to consider for customer satisfaction and positive business reputation.
Post-delivery support and services can take many forms, including:
- Data collection and analysis
- Investigation and reports following the detection of a problem
- Technical documentation updates or revisions
When Do You Need an AS9100 Audit?
To achieve certification, you must receive an AS9100 audit. This audit requires an internal and external audit to assess your quality management system.
If your company does not have trained internal auditors on staff, you can hire external companies like Ledge to conduct internal audits for you. External registration audits must be conducted by registrars, and working with companies to assist with the AS9100 auditing process can provide you with connections, support, and consultants throughout the audit.
Need to Receive Your Certificate
If you are looking to receive your AS9100 certification for the first time, you are likely a new business in the aerospace industry, or you have recently expanded your offerings so that this certification is more relevant and valuable to your company.
The AS9100 standard relates to the production quality of a company’s offerings, as the standards in the aerospace industry are high to promote safety and satisfaction. Therefore, the sooner you begin working to earn your AS9100 certificate, the better.
Need to Maintain Your Certificate
Even after receiving your AS9100 certificate, it is important that you routinely assess your quality management system to ensure you are meeting standards and requirements. Making adjustments and improvements as needed will be key, as well.
While having your AS9100 certification is good on its own, keep in mind that your business will be subject to scrutiny over time, and conducting regular internal audits to assess and verify continuous improvement can ensure you keep your AS9100 certificate.
How to Get an AS9100 Certificate
To get your business AS9100 certified, you will need to complete two types of audits, one internal and one external. Contacting the appropriate personnel, scheduling audits, and preparing necessary materials and documentation are all essential to obtaining your AS9100 certificate.
The AS9100 Certification Process and Audit Types
The internal and external AS9100 audits are both critical to the process. To qualify for an AS9100 certification, your company must be audited by internal (or contracted) auditors as well as by relevant external parties.
Internal audits can be conducted by trained auditors on your staff or hired contractors. These audits assess your quality management system on-site. If you use members of your staff to conduct an internal AS9100 audit, you must avoid having auditors audit areas that they are typically responsible for. Having multiple auditors assigned to an internal audit, or simply hiring external auditors like Ledge to perform the audit, can help you avoid any conflicts of interest.
Internal audits are required for an AS9100 certificate, but they also provide the added benefit of ensuring your company is prepared for the external audit. By conducting an internal audit, you will assess your quality management system by comparing it to the AS9100 standard requirements; in doing so, you can identify areas of improvement or non-conformity and make adjustments as needed.
The external AS9100 audit focuses on surveillance, customers, and suppliers. External audits may also include certification audits. The external audit process may request audits from existing or potential customers as well as product suppliers to assess whether your company is meeting the requirements and expectations of other parties.
To determine if your company is eligible for an AS9100 certification, your selected registrar will first conduct a documentation audit to verify that you have met the minimum criteria for qualification.
Before you can get your AS9100 certification, you must undergo a certification audit by your selected registrar to determine if you meet the qualifying requirements.
The AS9100 certification audit features on-site interviews and record reviews. Auditors will assess your compliance with AS9100 standards using these practices. Certification audits tend to occur once every three years.
What Happens After Certification
Once you obtain your AS9100 certification, you can feel satisfied knowing that you have met the necessary criteria and demonstrated your dedication to high-quality products and services.
However, you should not become complacent. Your registrar will periodically conduct surveillance audits to ensure you are complying with AS9100 standards. Getting your AS9100 certificate is the first step, but you must be careful to uphold these standards moving forward, as well.
How Audits Are Conducted
AS9100 audits can be conducted in different ways including on-site, remote, and self-audits.
On Site Audits
On-site AS9100 audits take place over full days. The number of days required to complete an on-site audit varies depending on factors like the size, complexity, and risk of the company. Internal AS9100 audits are conducted on-site to ensure an accurate, comprehensive audit is completed.
Remote audits can occur via teleconferencing, web meetings, and electronic process verifications. While remote AS9100 audits offer increased flexibility, they are less popular than on-site audits due to decreased effectiveness and accuracy.
The self-audit is not synonymous with an internal audit, but they can be requested by customers to provide quality assurance. Self-audits for AS9100 certification can be used to verify product and service quality meets the appropriate requirements and standards.
How to Prepare for an AS9100 Audit
Preparing for an AS9100 audit requires diligence and insight. If you want your company to obtain an AS9100 certificate, be sure to review the requirements of the certification and move forward accordingly.
Your AS9100 Audit Checklist
There are certain steps you should take to prepare for an AS9100 audit. Take your time to prepare so that you can be sure you can meet the necessary criteria of the AS9100 standards.
Give Your Company Plenty of Time to Prep
Rushing into an AS9100 audit is not going to benefit you. Instead, take your time to review the AS9100 certification requirements and identify what you need to accomplish and what expectations you need to meet in order to qualify.
Train and Prepare Your Employees
Earning your AS9100 certification cannot be accomplished on your own. It is important to inform your employees about the impending audit so that they are aware of the standards they must collectively work to meet.
You should also ensure your employees understand their roles in the quality management system. Training employees on AS9100 standards, as well as any new or updated processes and procedures they need to know and follow, should be a top priority.
Verify All Documented Information
Making sure your documents, reports, and records are in order will be critical for the AS9100 certification process. Review the information you have documented and verify that what you have meets AS9100 standards before proceeding with the audit.
Complete an Internal Audit
Completing a full round of internal audits is a requirement for the AS9100 audit, but taking this action is also the easiest and most effective way to identify any nonconformances. Internal audits can also help prepare employees for the interview stage of the certification audit.
When conducting your internal AS9100 audit, remember that these audits serve to help you identify weaknesses so that you can make improvements to promote a more effective management system.
Complete Your Certification Audit
Once you have adequately prepared for the external audit by completing the aforementioned steps, you can proceed with the AS9100 certification audit.
At this point, you should be confident in your compliance, as you have educated your employees, identified areas of improvement, and made productive changes to meet AS9100 standards.
The Advantages of Completing an AS9100 Audit
The process of preparing for and completing an AS9100 audit is productive in and of itself, as the audit process highlights weaknesses and allows companies to make necessary improvements to quality management systems. However, there are additional benefits and advantages to completing the AS9100 audit.
Offers Access to New Markets
The AS9100 audit and certification process encourages data-based decision-making and improved efficiency at every level of operation. As a result, AS9100 certified businesses are often more inclined to identify innovative ways to cut costs, reduce risk, and continually improve.
In this way, businesses who complete an AS9100 audit often gain access to new markets because of their attention to detail and their willingness to change and grow as market demands do the same. Additionally, many businesses beyond the aerospace industry recognize the value of an AS9100 certification and will refuse to work with companies that do not have it, making the audit and certification essential to business growth and expansion.
Strengthen Supplier Relationships
Strong relationships with suppliers can be immensely beneficial, and conducting an AS9100 audit often lends itself to improvements in these relationships. Obtaining an AS9100 certification can enhance your reputation in the eyes of shareholders, customers, and supplies alike.
The AS9100 standard features specific requirements for supplier interactions, so by completing an audit and meeting those standards, your business will have better success in working with your supplies to achieve mutual goals like enhanced customer satisfaction, increased delivery efficiency, and cost-cutting.
Improves Internal Operational Efficiency
The AS9100 audit process primarily focuses on improving efficiency and quality. By completing the audit, you will give your business an advantage in implementing effective processes that take into account the big picture of your operations.
In other words, AS9100 encourages you to identify ways your practices intersect and overlap so that you can make adjustments that effectively improve the efficiency, quality, and cohesion of your operation.
Risk mitigation is a big part of the AS9100 audit and certification. An AS9100 certification requires your business to implement an operational risk management process.
Rather than supplying a generic risk management process, the AS9100 standard requires you to develop and integrate a tailored process that aids in improving the quality of your processes as well as the traceability of your products.
Why Choose Ledge as Your Auditing Provider
If you are looking to complete an AS9100 audit, consider choosing Ledge as your auditing provider. Our experienced team provides tailored services to ensure the audit is thorough and comprehensive.
You’ll Need an Impartial Auditor
To ensure you conduct a complete, objective audit of your quality management system, having an impartial auditor is key. While assigning team members the auditor role might save some money in the short-term, prioritizing impartiality is more important when it comes to AS9100 requirements.
At Ledge, we provide an impartial audit of your operations to ensure you have a complete look at what you need to adjust in order to qualify for the AS9100 certification.
We Have Years of Experience
The team at Ledge, Inc. features experts who have a combined experience that exceeds 50 years. Our expertise is especially notable in areas like engineering, manufacturing, and quality management systems.
Working with a consultant from Ledge can give you the expertise and insight you need to successfully obtain your AS9100 certification.
Outsourcing Audits Frees Up Internal Resources
Rather than delegating the AS9100 internal auditing tasks to employees, especially those who are not trained auditors, outsourcing this project can ensure your employees are able to focus on their work and perform at their best.
Because employees are an integral part of the AS9100 auditing process, it is important that you feel confident in their knowledge of AS9100 standards as well as their role in obtaining this certification. Working with an experienced auditor from Ledge can offer additional confidence in your business, operations, and workforce.
Tailored to Meet Your Aerospace Company’s Unique Needs
A “one size fits all” approach is not going to cut it when striving for an AS9100 certification. The team at Ledge, Inc. understands the importance of data-based, detail-oriented, and innovative procedures when it comes to quality management systems.
We will work with you to ensure that the unique qualities, features, and needs of your company are addressed and met while conducting the AS9100 audit.
Frequently Asked Questions About the AS9100 Audit
When was the AS9100 Standard Released and Updated?
The AS9100 standard was initially released in 1999. Expanding on the requirements laid out by ISO 9001, the AS9100 standard has been revised several times, with updates released in 2001, 2004, 2009, and 2015. The most recent of these is AS9100 Rev D, released in 2015.
Is AS9100 Internationally Recognized?
The ISO 9001 standard is internationally recognized, having been established by the International Organization for Standardization.
Likewise, the AS9100 standard, which draws on the ISO 9001 standard, is similarly recognized as an international standard; the International Aerospace Quality Group, which is responsible for the AS9100 standard, is composed of aerospace company representatives from around the world.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Audit?
Completing an AS9100 audit takes time primarily because implementing a quality management system that adheres to the established standards tends to be an involved process. The exact amount of time it will take to complete an audit varies from company to company.
Differences in quality management system, internal operations, and other processes can impact how long it takes to complete an AS9100 audit.
If you want to get a better idea of how long an audit will take for your company, you can use a gap analysis tool to compare your existing systems with the AS9100 requirements.
How Much Does an AS9100 Audit Cost?
Each AS9100 audit is tailored to the individual company, so the exact cost will vary. However, you should be aware of the factors that can influence how much you will pay to complete an AS9100 audit.
Some of these factors include:
- External consultants or auditors
- Employee time
Acquiring the AS9100 certificate audit will cost money, as well, though the exact cost will depend on the entity supplying the audit and certification.
How Is an AS9100 Audit Failed?
If you have taken the necessary steps to prepare for your AS9100 audit, failure is unlikely. However, failing an AS9100 audit is not impossible, so it is important to be aware of common mistakes and errors that can result in failure.
Failure to integrate and utilize an AS9100 compliant quality management system is an obvious, but not unheard of, reason to fail the AS9100 audit. Similarly, a lack of evidence to support employee training, consistent improvement initiatives, established objectives, management reviews, and other relevant documentation can result in a failed audit.
You may also fail an AS9100 audit even if you have been certified in the past in the event that the standard is updated; in most cases, certified companies will have three years to make necessary adjustments to their quality management systems before they can be held to the updated standards.
Does Every AS9100 Clause Have to Be Audited in an Internal Audit?
To complete a comprehensive and thorough internal audit, your auditors should consider the impact of every AS9100 clause. However, auditors may make judgments based on your unique company on how the clause applies.
Remember, an internal audit is a precursor to the external audit. The internal AS9100 audit allows you to identify areas of improvement so that you can meet the AS9100 standard. If you miss something important in an internal audit, you may not meet the requirements necessary to receive your AS9100 certification.
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