More than anything a FAI typically will help a manufacturer ensure that production begins on schedule and that quality concerns have been addressed. Mistakes will occur but a FAI will minimize them (and document how they’re addressed).
The FAI process is a good opportunity to establish checkpoints based on operations. For example, parts sent to a FAI inspector need to arrive at the right times (and noted when late).
A proper FAI will:
Allow for verification of drawings so they represent adjustments that were necessary in parts design.
Help verify the production process in a comprehensive manner that considers every parameter, not just aspects that are deemed “most critical.”
Verify that tooling is in the right condition and able to produce parts within defined specifications.
Ensure that that fixed process documentation attachments are available.
Detail customer approvals.
Associate process certification with the correct revision levels.
An FAI is a good way to evaluate suppliers. Over time fewer inspections may be needed if a supplier has a good track record. The burden for a First Article Inspection generally falls on the supplier who must verify that it’s able to produce quality products.
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