A complete First Article Inspection (FAI) prior to shipment is a reality that most suppliers understand and they move heaven and earth to comply with their customer’s demands. But after completing the lengthy documentation and submitting this FAI package to the customer, the supplier often cannot ship the parts: The FAI is held up without the necessary customer approval.

Quality managers often monitor the FAI activity very closely on the production floor to ensure they are capturing the multitude of requirements, but the reality is this: extensive gaps between submission and customer acceptance frustrates this harried quality manager and impacts delivery and invoicing. The ramifications for slow approval are sorely problematic and expensive; parts are not shipped and are stockpiled, thus affecting cash flow, and ultimately the company’s bottom line and future planning. And submitting a simple Delta FAI often is not a remedy.  The full FAI assembly could fail, impacting the approval of the remaining components—this becomes an avalanche of non-shippable parts.

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One supplier complained, “Currently we have about 200 assemblies that have been submitted without customer approval and I have hounded everyone at the customer site to get these approved to no avail. What recourse does a supplier have when the customer is not accepting the FAIs?”

Some suppliers take matters into their own hands and bend the rules to get the FAI approved, but this action can be problematic and cause more headaches and legal problems down the road.

Let’s step back a moment to take closer look-- from the customer’s point of view. Is the documentation fully complete, legible and clear? Are items on the drawing not accounted for? Is the ballooned print hard to follow and not in a logical order? Is all the information in one localized place so the customer can easily access the data, from specifications to certs to part marking? If a customer has to riffle through messy documentation that takes hours to review, the approval process can be held up.  The customer may also be frustrated and simply throw his hands in the air, “Too hard!” So this customer reviews another supplier’s FAI that is more organized and approves this before the other problematic FAI. That FAI could fall further behind in the queue, thus delaying approval even longer.

As a quality solution to this problem, a supplier can depend on a software solution to organize and fully comply with the customer’s needs. Creating the FAI report with the customer’s special AS9102 form that they know and understand may be a simple solution. A method to catch any missing characteristics and then insert them logically into the print can help facilitate a review. Having all the critical information in one Technical Data Package (TDP) gives a reviewer immediate access to the information in one centralized location in a matter of clicks. Last but not least, a professionally prepared ballooned print with appropriate comments and markups can guide a reviewer through the FAI process. All of this can expedite approval and can be done with easy-to-use software.

While there may be other issues at the customer’s site that affects approvals, why not do everything in your power for the most professional and complete FAI package? The answer to the question, “What recourse does a supplier have?” can be simple. Acquire an FAI software to help organize the data and professionally submit the FAI package, so instead of hounding the customer for acceptance, provide a pro-active solution to speed up the approval process. This is a quality solution that will help you realize immediate ROI.

One supplier to a major OEM solved his approval woes with such a software solution:

"DISCUS has considerably reduced the time we spend on FAIR compilation and we were able to hit target dates for FAIR delivery with ease. DISCUS gives the user the confidence that the FAIR submitted to the customer is Right First Time and we are getting customer approvals immediately. This is a huge change." - Tim Marshall, Quality Team Manager, Esterline Darchem Engineering Ltd

To learn how to speed up customer approvals visit www.DISCUSsoftware.com