Product accountability is a critical component of the manufacturing process. For manufacturing and quality assurance and safety outcomes, heavily-regulated industries like the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors require heightened oversight and compliance standards. 

The AS9100 quality management system governs the aerospace industry in particular. As part of that process, the AS9102 Aerospace First Article Inspection Requirement (FAIR) is a governance standard that includes checklists and forms. Accurately completing the forms ensures compliance with design requirements.

The three forms of an AS9102 document are:

  • Part Number Accountability
  • Product Accountability
  • Characteristic Accountability

This article will detail the significance of investigative product accountability for the manufacturing first article inspection (FAI) process, and outline best practices for improving business productivity. 

The importance of product accountability

Safety and efficiency are of paramount importance when it comes to aerospace part manufacturing. Accountability and audit trails provide traceability for each and every component and part involved in the process. This end-to-end project management visibility is designed to save time and money later in development by establishing a high level of consistency. The detailed analysis of a first article inspection identifies the bounds and interactions between products involved in the entire manufacturing process.

FAI helps to regulate the production and manufacturing outcomes to precise and stringent quality standards. By comparing a sample part against detailed design specifications, any flaws or vulnerabilities in the manufacturing process that produced it can be identified and corrected before any mass-replication of the test asset begins.

Product accountability details the citation of raw material specifications, special processes and functional testing. These guidelines help guarantee the precise replication of these products in the production phase of manufacturing.

The product accountability process

First article inspection consists of three distinct forms, collectively resulting in a report that can be included in a larger technical data package (TDP). The TDP is an electronic record that can be viewed and utilized by downstream departments in the supply chain, and usually contains 3D models, a bill of characteristics and product manufacturing information (PMI).

The product accountability form follows the initial report – part number accountability – which catalogs every component required for the manufacturing process. By composing a list of detailed part descriptions and serial numbers, workforces can reference specific assets or parts that need to be exchanged in the event of malfunction or fault. 

Product accountability is enacted after each part has been documented, including sub-assemblies and detailed parts. From there, all raw materials and specifications are outlined and any functional tests that are defined as a design requirement are outlined. 

Once the product accountability form has been completed, the characteristic accountability form tackles the unique elements of each part, and offers comprehensive reporting of the inspection results. This final form allows an engineer or team leader to validate the entire process, with all of the significant elements and materials accounted for.

All three FAI forms are comprised of fields that are required (R ), conditionally required (CR) or optional (O). The product accountability form consists of 24 points that require a combination of these three user-defined fields. Everything from drawing numbers to additional process changes is reported here. Optional information that appears upon completion of the FAI may include the classifications such as the name of the product leader who approved the FAIR and the name of the receiving customer.

DISCUS partners to provide product accountability 

DISCUS offers solutions specifically tailored to increase the efficiency of your technical data package collection. By providing software that handles the setup of the FAI process, your workforce can enjoy accelerated productivity, with the assurance that the margin for human error is greatly reduced. 

From free downloadable AS9102 forms – including the product accountability sheet – to first article inspection software, DISCUS has a solution for every step of the manufacturing process. The ability to verify drawings to represent adjustments that emerge during the parts design process affords your team a degree of ‘confined dexterity.’ This means that any necessary redesigns are ensured to be compatible with the parameters outlined in the earliest stages of the FAI process. 

The comprehensive verification elements of a DISCUS platform consider every possible element of design, and factors in the tooling conditions of support assets.

Your workforce will appreciate the oversight provided by DISCUS Desktop, proven to reduce first article inspection (AS9102, PPAP, Part 820) and ballooned drawing upwards of 90%. The versatility of this platform will ensure you’re able to use the same process and tools for all of your customers. Thanks to DISCUS, consumer-specific formatting prerequisites can be uploaded to your internal inspection sheets, saving the time and energy once consumed creating unique architectures for every client.

DISCUS Desktop allows you the maneuverability to upload your characteristic data into an array of web-based FAI applications. This ‘single source of truth’ consolidates the efforts of your designers, engineers and manufacturers, while providing the ability to upload your completed FAIR to a number of applications.

Should your customers have their own web-based FAI quality management system, deploying the DISCUS Results platform will enable your team to enter the specifications and measured values of the FAIR. Should your clients utilize CAD 3D modeling software, the DISCUS 3D Data Management module will enable you to view and inform 3D elements and designs. 

Contact DISCUS

With the importance of product accountability for the FAI process, utilizing a DISCUS solution limits the margin for error while providing increased visibility and clarity for your design and manufacturing teams. Why not test out a trial version today? 

We have years of experience helping close to 2,500 customers achieve FAI success.

More questions? Contact us today!