28 Mar 2021

Why pursue AS9100 certification

In the aerospace industry a small error in the supply chain can have disastrous consequences to the final product. AS9100 certification in the industry provides third party validation of the processes and organization has put in place to manage the quality of the product/service they deliver. It also helps to provide confidence to customers that they employ a process-based management system to continual improvement.
To manage the extensive global supply chain of part manufacturers and ensure that each is implementing a basic framework of a quality management system, AS9100 was developed. It is based on the framework of ISO 9001 and follows the same high-level structure as ISO 9001. So a company implementing AS9100 also meets the requirements of ISO 9001. AS9100 is developed by ISO in collaboration with SAE. Is AS9100 certification mandatory?
ISO 9001 allows organizations to self declare as does AS9100 if you want to gain from the benefits of the management system approach. However, if you are looking to do business in the aerospace industry then AS9100 certification is almost mandatory. For to be listed on the OASIS supplier database an organization will need to pursue AS9100 certification. However apart from this at times being the sole goal the system implementation also provides other benefits. These include a feedback loop for opportunities for improvement to be communicated up the chain as also for them to be addressed in a structured manner. It allows for non-conformities to be addressed so that effective corrective action is taken. The management now remains more involved in the system and quality cannot be something that is buttoned on but is something that is integral to the success of the system.
However, AS9100 certification does not imply that an organization will not get audited by a supplier. It may however reduce the possibility or frequency of a supplier audit. The supplier audits look at the organization’s compliance to the supplier requirements and not just to the AS9100 standard. It also does not reduce the internal checks to be done by the company. The company must realize that the AS9100 certification audits will not go to the same depths that internal audits can when it comes to sample size.
AS9100 certification does of course come at a cost, a recurring cost as recertification occurs every 3 years and there are annual surveillance audits conducted in the intermediate years. An organization looking to do business in the aerospace industry will need to consider AS9100 certification after implementing a system. Care must be taken in the system implementation not to use a template and to take the effort to build a strong foundation that will deliver benefits beyond just the certificate on the wall.