What is AS9100?
What is AS9100?
At Systel, quality management is not just a buzzword – it’s at the core of everything we do. We understand that in order to provide exceptional products and services, we must maintain exceptional quality standards. This requires strong engagement from everyone in the organization. We embrace the maxim, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility.”
We have been ISO9001 certified for many years, demonstrating our commitment to quality management, however, starting in 2021 we took it a step further by achieving certification to the more rigorous AS9100 aerospace quality standard.
AS9100: The Gold Standard for Quality in the Aerospace Industry
AS9100 is a quality management system (QMS) standard specifically designed for the aerospace industry. It provides a framework for organizations to establish and maintain an effective QMS that meets the unique requirements of the industry, including regulatory compliance, safety, and reliability.
The aerospace industry is known for its stringent quality requirements and the need for excellence in every aspect of design, production, and assembly. In an industry where safety and reliability are of the utmost importance, having a robust QMS is essential. That’s where AS9100 comes in – a globally recognized standard for quality management in the aerospace sector.
Compliance with AS9100 is often a requirement for doing business with aerospace and defense customers, including the US Department of Defense and major commercial aerospace manufacturers. Holding AS9100 certification also demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction, which is essential in a competitive industry like aerospace.
The Evolution of AS9100: A Historical Perspective on Aerospace Quality Standards
The birth of AS9100 can be traced back to the late 1990s, a period marked by significant growth and increasing globalization in the aerospace industry. During this time, the need for a unified, industry-specific QMS became apparent, as existing quality standards like ISO9001 did not fully address the unique requirements of the aerospace sector.
In response, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) was established in 1998, bringing together aerospace industry representatives from North America, Europe, and Asia. The IAQG aimed to develop a comprehensive, globally harmonized quality standard that would ensure consistent levels of quality, safety, and reliability across the industry. The result was the release of the AS9100 standard in 1999.
Since its introduction, AS9100 has undergone several revisions to keep pace with the evolving needs of the aerospace industry and to align with updates to ISO9001. The following are the key revisions in the history of AS9100:
- AS9100 Rev. A (2001): The first revision was primarily aimed at incorporating changes made to ISO9001:2000. It emphasized the need for process-oriented thinking, customer focus, and continuous improvement.
- AS9100 Rev. B (2004): The second revision focused on clarifying the standard’s requirements and introducing new elements, such as project management and risk management. It also included additional requirements for the aerospace industry and sought to enhance compatibility with other quality standards like ISO9001:2000.
- AS9100 Rev. C (2009): The third revision aimed to further improve the effectiveness of the standard by emphasizing risk management, project management, and configuration management. The revision also expanded the scope of the standard to include organizations involved in the production of aerospace-related hardware and software.
- AS9100 Rev. D (2016): The most recent revision aligned AS9100 with ISO9001:2015 and incorporated new requirements related to product safety, counterfeit parts prevention, human factors, and risk-based thinking. It also streamlined the standard’s structure, making it more user-friendly and easier to implement.
Benefits of AS9100
In an industry where safety, reliability, and performance are paramount, companies in the aerospace and defense sector must continually strive for excellence. Being an AS9100 certified company sends a clear message to customers that the organization is committed to maintaining the highest quality standards:
- Enhanced Quality and ReliabilityAS9100 certified companies adhere to a rigorous QMS that encompasses every aspect of their operations, from design and development to production and delivery. This comprehensive approach ensures that products and services meet stringent quality and safety requirements, resulting in improved reliability and reduced risk of failures. As a result, aerospace and defense customers can trust that their suppliers are delivering high-quality products that perform consistently and safely.
- Streamlined Supply Chain ManagementWorking with AS9100 certified suppliers simplifies the procurement process for aerospace and defense customers. The certification serves as a guarantee of quality, reducing the need for extensive audits, assessments, and supplier evaluations. Streamlining of the supply chain results in time and cost savings, as well as increased confidence in the overall performance and reliability of products and services.
- Improved Customer SatisfactionAS9100 certification emphasizes customer focus and requires certified companies to closely monitor customer satisfaction levels. This customer-centric approach ensures that suppliers are attentive to their customers’ needs and requirements, leading to improved communication and collaboration. Ultimately, this translates to better products, services, and support, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Compliance with Regulatory RequirementsThe aerospace and defense industries are subject to stringent regulations and standards from organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). AS9100 certification helps suppliers demonstrate compliance with these regulatory requirements, giving customers peace of mind that they are working with a partner who understands and adheres to the industry’s legal and regulatory obligations.
- Access to Cutting-Edge Technologies and InnovationsAS9100 certified companies are required to continuously improve their processes and products, fostering a culture of innovation and technological advancement. By working with AS9100 certified suppliers, aerospace and defense customers gain access to the latest technologies, innovations, and best practices, ensuring that they remain at the forefront of their industry.
- Lower Total Cost of OwnershipAS9100 certification can lead to increased operational efficiency, optimized resource utilization, and reduced waste in the manufacturing process. These improvements often result in cost savings that can be passed on to customers. Moreover, the increased reliability and reduced risk of failures associated with AS9100 certified suppliers contribute to a lower total cost of ownership for aerospace and defense customers.
What is Systel Doing?
In order to maintain our AS9100D quality certification, we conduct annual third-party audits and focus on improving our processes and workflows to better serve our customers and support their missions. This requires ongoing dedication and attention to detail from everyone on our team. Our robust internal auditing program is comprised of cross-functional teams that review our processes and workflows to ensure that they meet our high standards for quality.
In 2022, we passed our first AS9100D annual surveillance audit and in 2023 we were recertified, proving an immense commitment of our team to maintaining exceptional quality standards.
“Systel approaches each AS9100 audit as an opportunity to further strengthen our quality management system,” said Jacob Evans, vice-president of operations at Systel. “This mindset has helped drive dramatic improvements in recent years, where Systel has reduced warranty returns by more than 50%.”
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Airbus are some of the largest and most well-known companies in the aerospace industry, and their certification to AS9100D demonstrates their commitment to quality and reliability in their products and services. As suppliers to these companies and many more in the aerospace and defense industry, Systel’s own AS9100D certification is an important factor in maintaining strong business relationships and most importantly, ensuring consistent reliability of our products in support of our customers’ mission-critical applications.
We believe that quality management is not just a one-time task – it’s an ongoing process. We are dedicated to continually improving our processes and workflows to better serve our customers and support their missions. We believe that this commitment to quality is what sets us apart and allows us to deliver exceptional products and services to our customers.