WEST YORKSHIRE, UK-The Heat Treatment division of Keighley Laboratories has been certificated to the AS9100 Revision C standard, the quality management system for the aviation, space and defense industries. Designed to meet the stringent and complex demands of the international aerospace industry, AS9100 is the highest certification in the sector and Revision C is the latest version of a standard with which all suppliers must comply, in order to ensure a listing on the OASIS (online aerospace supplier information system) database.
The West Yorkshire company was audited over a three-day period by BSI, the United Kingdom’s premier certification body, and was recommended for accreditation to AS9100 Revision C, strengthening its position as a specialist technology provider and augmenting its existing accreditation to BS EN ISO 9001:2008. Earlier, a four-man team led by Heat Treatment Technical Manager Allan Carter-a metallurgist and chartered engineer-had put in place a year-long program aimed at implementing changes to internal systems and procedures necessary under Revision C.
“The major themes for the new AS9100 specification were risk assessment and customer satisfaction,” says Allan. “This has entailed reviewing all of our First Article Inspection reports and developing risk management procedures for all new aerospace work, including treatment process sheets identifying temperature and soaking times, quenchants used, testing stages, case depth and other technical criteria. We have also introduced methods for measuring customer satisfaction, by recording on-time delivery performance and customer feedback, as well as carrying out routine calls and surveys. These procedures are primarily aimed at organizations in the aerospace sector, although our clients in other industries also appreciate these enhanced standards.”
Quality and reliability are critical values for the aerospace industry, where errors or product failures could prove fatal, so the effective operation of a quality management system plays a critical role in reducing risk. Recognizing the need for compliance across the industry, in 1997 a group of major U.S.-aerospace manufacturers released a single, unified quality standard, AS9000, which was subsequently replaced and updated by the internationally-adopted AS9100 that is based on ISO 9001.
Released in January 2009, Revision C is the fourth and latest release of the standard, which takes in the revised requirements of ISO 9001:2008 and nearly 100 additional criteria specific to the aerospace industry, Revision C changes include greater focus on planning and project management, additional emphasis on risk management and mitigation, and the need to develop plans for continuous improvement of customer satisfaction.
A major requirement within Revision C is for organizations to take responsibility for their specific supply chains and ensure that all products making up aircraft components conform to standard, including implementing the necessary processes to verify procured products and services. As an AS9100 Rev C accredited supplier of heat treatment services, Keighley Labs can offer its customers a quality management system accepted by the aerospace industry and ensure compliance with risk management throughout the supply chain.
“This accreditation underlines our ongoing commitment to quality assurance and strengthens our supplier status,” says Keighley Labs MD, Debbie Mellor. “The revisions to AS9100 make the standard even more rigorous than before and it demonstrates that we can meet the most exacting requirements. We are grateful to Allan and his project team for steering us through the accreditation process and to our whole workforce for their commitment to continuous improvement. Hopefully, this will open up fresh market opportunities for us.”