As a supplier to the highly regulated aviation industry, Skandia must comply with multiple, global regulations. To address a recent push from its customers for standardization, the company decided to pursue registration to AS9100C, the primary quality management system for the aerospace industry. With limited AS9100C experience on staff, however, Skandia turned to IMEC for support in preparing for the registration audit.
IMEC first conducted a mock audit with every department – reviewing processes, identifying gaps and detailing non-compliance issues and how to address them. Then IMEC provided internal auditor training to teach Skandia’s quality team how to identify and audit processes. After Skandia fixed the gaps, IMEC held a management review training session, walking leaders through the AS9100C standard in detail and explaining how it applied to their departments. When these three steps were complete, Skandia completed its formal AS9100C registration audit and received certification.
With IMEC’s support, Skandia achieved AS9100C certification:
- On the first attempt
- In 10 months, ahead of the company’s one-year goal
- Without needing to pursue ISO 9001 certification first
- With buy-in from the entire management team
Aircraft Interiors Specialist Flies Through AS9100C Audit With IMEC’s Help
Jumping straight to AS9100C registration without first completing ISO certification was a bold idea. Setting a goal to complete the process in less than a year was an even bigger challenge. But with IMEC’s support, Davis Junction-based Skandia Inc. sailed through its audit on the first attempt.
An aircraft interiors specialist, Skandia supports the business aviation industry – mainly private aircraft customers like Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna and Gulfstream. Because aviation is a highly regulated industry, with customers located worldwide, the company must comply with multiple, global regulations.
According to Jeff Vardell, Skandia’s quality assurance manager, there’s been a big push for standardization in the aviation industry recently. “Certification gives our customers confidence and peace of mind,” he said. “Without it, they have to conduct extra surveillance and audits, which requires time and money. With it, we’re more attractive as a supplier.”
That’s a key reason Skandia decided to pursue AS9100C registration. As the primary quality management system for the aerospace industry, it includes all of ISO 9001’s standards along with aerospace-specific quality and safety criteria. With limited AS9100C experience on staff, however, Skandia decided to reach out to a third party for support in preparing for the registration audit.
“We could have spent the money to learn the standard ourselves and go through a trial-and-error process to get it right, or we could turn to a professional instead,” Vardell said. “For us, the return on investment associated with using IMEC’s expertise was a no-brainer.”
Together, IMEC and Skandia tackled AS9100C preparation in three key phases. During the first phase, gap analysis, IMEC conducted a mock audit of every department – reviewing processes, identifying gaps and detailing non-compliance issues and how to address them. Next was a two-day internal auditor training session to teach Skandia’s quality team how to identify and audit processes.
After fixing these gaps, Skandia moved on to phase three: management review training. According to Vardell, this training – in which IMEC walked the company’s entire management team through the AS9100C standard in detail – proved to be the most valuable part of the project.
“Internally, we can talk about the importance of quality all day long, but IMEC brought credibility to the table,” he said. “They were able to explain to each manager how the standard applied to their department, which was instrumental in helping us get buy-in.”
With these three phases complete, the company was ready for its formal AS9100C registration, first completing a preliminary audit and then the full audit about a month later. In total, from the time Skandia began working with IMEC until receiving certification, the process took about 10 months – faster than the one-year goal the company had set for itself.
“Most consultants recommend you get ISO certification first before moving on to AS9100C, and they tell you to expect to fail the audit the first time or two,” Vardell said. “We skipped right over ISO and set ourselves a nearly impossible deadline, but we were confident. Internally we had a very dedicated team, and externally we knew we’d have the support we needed from IMEC.”
That support was instrumental in giving the Skandia team the confidence to complete the audit. “Could we have done it without IMEC? Sure. Would we have been done in 10 months? Absolutely not,” Vardell said. “Why go it alone when you have access to a resource that’s readily available and reasonably priced? IMEC combines a familiarity with AS9100C standards with expertise in the manufacturing industry. They’re confident and sure – and that instilled a sense of confidence in us.”
“Why go it alone when you have access to a resource that’s readily available and reasonably priced? IMEC combines a familiarity with AS9100C standards with expertise in the manufacturing industry. They’re confident and sure – and that instilled a sense of confidence in us.”
– Jeff Vardell, Quality Assurance Manager