A quality management system is a set of structured, repeatable and scalable processes that ensure consistent results in a business setting. This broad definition makes it possible to tailor individual management systems to the requirements of organizations in a range of industries and applications.
Quality management systems must undergo regular auditing to ensure their correct implementation. This is especially important for suppliers in the aerospace, aviation and defense industries, where quality control is essential, and issues such as counterfeit parts are commonplace.
What Is a Management System Audit?
A management system audit is an independent assessment of the effectiveness and applicability of a management system. Typically, an independent third party is engaged to do this, ensuring unbiased reporting and bringing objectivity to issues that may impact quality control. Management system audits are frequently performed to gain certification with ISO 9001, AS9100 or other international standards.
OEMs in various industries will also arrange independent audits to vet suppliers and assess their suitability for future projects. Supplier quality management system audits give OEMs the peace of mind of knowing their partners are delivering components they can trust. That’s where NTS Unitek comes in.
NTS Unitek Technical Services evaluates your suppliers’ quality management system to provide a better understanding of their performance, continued commitment to quality improvement and their capabilities to meet ongoing production and new product requirements. We can:
- Determine a supplier’s existing production capacity and identify known constraints to future capacity needs
- Evaluate their existing machine capability and determine its appropriateness for your new parts
- Assess their willingness for capital investments required for new equipment/machinery
- Review the capability of their first article inspection process and any needed special processes
- Review the effectiveness of their calibration process to assure proper recall cycle times and control
- Analyze the strengths and capabilities of their existing workforce and determine if new skills, training, or resources will be needed to meet your requirements
- Assure the proper integration of activities above and other processes to evaluate risks and potential shortcomings of supplier's quality management system
Our technical specialists have extensive experience developing quality management system audits for aerospace, aviation, defense and other demanding clients. We provide customized service for each supplier, tailoring the audit process to deliver the most accurate — and actionable — set of results.
What Are the Benefits of a Quality Management System Audit?
Regular auditing of your suppliers' quality management systems can have several benefits, including:
- Fewer incidences of nonconforming parts and components
- Fewer production delays and less product loss
- Creation of a detailed audit trail for investigative purposes
- Simplified reporting processes and a streamlined path to compliance with various regulatory standards
- More efficient resource use, less waste
- Improved overall product consistency
- Greater customer satisfaction and improved financial stability
- More proactive risk management and protection from liability issues
The above benefits are useful not only for OEMs and end users, but for suppliers as well. Quality management auditing at different levels of the supply chain allows all stakeholders to develop leaner processes that save money and allow them to do more with fewer resources.
While quality assurance auditing is often thought of as a nuisance requirement, approaching it with the right attitude and with appropriate support engaged at the management level, they can deliver enhanced value to both suppliers and their partners.
The Audit Process: What to Expect
A quality management system audit requires several steps. Typically, the process will involve:
- Interviews with ground-level employees, allowing the auditor to gain a clearer picture of how the business functions and how quality controls are integrated into everyday processes
- A comprehensive review of records to verify the correct implementation and documentation of the prescribed quality controls
- An evaluation of the business' internal controls and assessment of their potential risks, internal structure and overall effectiveness
- Any additional clarifications as deemed necessary by the auditor
The best candidate to perform a quality management system audit is someone who understands your industry and knows the right questions to ask. That's why it's so important to work with a well-respected, knowledgeable independent auditor.
Working With NTS Unitek
NTS Unitek brings extensive industry expertise to every quality management system audit it performs. We are adept at identifying potential risks and gaps and using this information to suggest improvements that will help your suppliers streamline their overall quality control and quality assurance processes.
Since 1973, we have been a dedicated partner to OEMs and their suppliers in the aerospace, defense and other industries. Contact us today for more information on our quality management system audit services.