People that have quality control or manufacturing roles always need to be sure that the goods or products being manufactured meet the client’s specifications. One way to achieve this is by conducting a first article inspection which is also commonly abbreviated to FAI. In this article, we will be discussing everything someone new to all this needs to know about FAI.
First Article Inspection – What is it?
First article inspections are usually carried out by authorized personnel (often a 2nd party inspector or the supplier). Special measuring tools are often used for inspection. You can click here to learn more about the kind of equipment used in the process.
The process involves the inspector taking one or more part(s) of the very first production and then comparing the part(s) with the specifications of the client and ensuring they match. The client’s specification is usually documented in the purchase order; therefore this document is the key reference material for the entire process.
Unlike what some persons think (probably due to the name of the procedure); this process does not compulsorily involve inspecting the production’s first parts. Instead, the parts are taken out of the initial batch produced; the inspectors carrying out the FAI would sometimes just pick randomly out of the initial batch.
When Does FAI Take Place?
Typically, an FAI is required for the first production runs and when part(s) design is changed. However, outside these cases, some other situations call for FAIs. For instance, when there are 2 or more years of production lapse. Before manufacturing can restart, it is important to conduct an FAI.
Also, when there’s an alteration of the materials, location, tools, process, or sourcing an FAI needs to accompany the alteration. The inspections carried out after alterations are to ensure that the alteration didn’t result in any kind of adverse effect on the product’s dimension, quality, or functionality.
Delta FAIs (also called partial FAIs) happen when a product or part undergoes design changes. You can click this: https://iopscience.iop.org/ to read a review on product design and engineering changes. For delta FAIs, the report made would typically break down the changes between the original first article inspection and the new version.
Just like with anything, before this inspection process begins, a plan needs to be created. Because the plan is the guide for the process, it typically is the first thing that is done. Usually, balloons that have unique numbers are added to drawings of the component(s).
The inspectors are then told what to look out for as they scrutinize the component. The balloons can be added to the drawing or picture via software or by hand.
The plan also needs to contain a table stating the inspection requirement. The unique numbers on the balloons, relevant tolerances and associated specifications should also be on the table. The table is a vital aspect of the document that is gotten at the end of the process. This document is known as the FAI report and it summarizes if a part failed or passed the examination.
Can a Client Rule Out an FAI?
The benefits of carrying out this process are numerous and include saving time when problems are noticed sooner and waste reduction. However, in some cases, a client can decide that this process is not needed. One of such cases is when the batch being produced is not large. In this case, the manufacturer also has to be very proficient in making the components.
When companies decide to make a supplier handle a big batch of new products, opting for pilot runs may be a better choice. For this to work the supplier must take responsibility for the batch that can range from tens to hundreds of products and each one would be produced to meet the client’s specification. Hence, the supplier has to show competency via another method that isn’t an FAI.
The inspector would typically have a document (usually a checklist) that would be referred to throughout the procedure to ensure thoroughness is maintained.
Specialized tools known as coordinate measuring machines are used for comparing the specifications with the parts and seeing if they match or differ. If any difference is noticed between the specifications and the parts, the inspector will check to see if the difference falls within the tolerance of the client.
Production often gets paused while this process is being done. If the part passes the examination, manufacturing typically would resume immediately.
If the parts fail the examination altogether, manufacturing has to cease immediately and the cause of the issue has to be found and addressed by the party or parties responsible. Once the issue is found and taken care of, another inspection will be conducted to be sure that all is correct. When that is confirmed, then manufacturing can resume.
First article inspection is one of the means manufacturers ensure that the products meet the specification of their clients. This procedure is a vital aspect of quality control and is often taken seriously. Some important things to know about this process including what it is, how it is planned, when it takes place, and other relevant issues have been discussed in this article.