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After just completing two consecutive AS9100D re-certification audits as the Director of Quality at Sonfarrel Aerospace, I have garnered great respect for the standard that guides our industry. Since 1999, AS9100 has helped give companies the structure needed to thrive in the aerospace industry while keeping up with customer requirements. Smaller companies go to considerable expense to become AS9100 registered. Completing an audit comes with a great sense of accomplishment and pride while letting other companies understand your commitment to improvement.
Unfortunately, some of the larger companies in our industry have spent many years developing their supplier requirements in addition to AS9100. These requirements could be a 25-page release in which companies are required to acknowledge or a seemingly yearly release of a 100 plus page manual suppliers must review. The smaller supplier, with either format, will need additional resources to become compliant. Some of the additions are slight and only require a small change to a procedure or the Quality Manual, while others require full process changes that tend to put financial strains on the smaller supplier. Quite often, these same companies request yearly costing reviews in an attempt to lower contract prices. While some may deem this as a “cost of doing business”, trying to implement these additional company-specific requirements affects your entire QMS and drive up costs. Some smaller companies that have had a substantial footprint in the aerospace industry are now pulling back and moving away from this type of work, leaving some companies scrambling for new suppliers.
"The rule is the perfect guideline to assist companies that need direction, stability and structure while giving them the necessary credibility to procure work in the aerospace industry"
As the prices of aircraft continue to soar to unimaginable heights, the foundation of our industry, the AS9100 standard, remains the driving force behind our manufacturing practices. The rule is the perfect guideline to assist companies that need direction, stability and structure while giving them the necessary credibility to procure work in the aerospace industry. If the more substantial companies could police their processes instead of passing down corrective measures, we could then place our faith back into the AS9100 standard where it belongs. It has been guiding us to excellence for over two decades, and with the release of Revision D, including risk management, it will undoubtedly guide us well into the future. The mindset that comes with being AS9100 certified has helped change cultures with companies that would otherwise struggle to survive.
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