Have you ever received a product that didn’t meet your expectations? Perhaps the item didn’t function as intended, or the dimensions were incorrect.
In the manufacturing industry, First Article Inspection (FAI) is the process that ensures such errors are caught before they reach the customer’s hands.
FAI involves inspecting the first sample produced to verify it meets all customer requirements. This process is critical in today’s highly competitive market, where quality is paramount to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
In this blog, we will teach you:
Table of Contents
What is a First Article Inspection?
First Article Inspection, also known as Initial Sample Inspection (ISI), is a process that verifies the manufacturing process’s capability to produce parts that meet the customer’s specifications.
This process ensures that the manufactured parts meet all customer requirements, including design, engineering, and performance specifications.
The three types of First Article Inspection:
- Full FAI: In this type of FAI, the manufacturer inspects all the characteristics of the manufactured part, including dimensions, materials, and performance.
- Partial FAI: In partial FAI, only specific characteristics of the manufactured part are inspected, depending on the customer’s requirements.
- Sampling Inspection: In sampling inspection, the manufacturer performs a statistical inspection of the sample size of the manufactured parts instead of inspecting every single part.
Why is a First Article Inspection Required?
First Article Inspection (FAI) is typically required when a new part or product is being manufactured for the first time or when there are significant changes to an existing product.
Here are some common situations when an FAI is needed:
- New product introduction: When a manufacturer introduces their first product, an FAI is typically required to ensure that the product meets all customer requirements and specifications.
- Product design changes: If there are significant design changes to an existing product, an FAI may be required to ensure that the changes are implemented correctly and do not affect the product’s quality or performance.
- Supplier changes: When a manufacturer changes suppliers for a critical component or material, an FAI may be required to ensure that the new supplier’s parts meet all requirements and specifications.
- Process changes: If there are significant changes to the manufacturing process, an FAI may be required to ensure that the changes do not affect the product’s quality or performance.
- Regulatory requirements: Some industries, such as aerospace, defense, and medical device manufacturing, require FAI to meet regulatory requirements and ensure compliance with industry standards.
Steps of First Article Inspection
First Article Inspection involves several steps to ensure manufactured parts meet customer requirements. Here are the steps involved in the First Article Inspection:
- Planning: The first step in the FAI process is planning. The manufacturer reviews the customer’s specifications, requirements, and any relevant standards to prepare for the inspection process. This includes identifying the critical characteristics to be inspected, the inspection methods to be used, and the acceptance criteria to be met.
- Manufacturing: Once the planning is complete, the manufacturer produces the first sample of the part. This sample is usually produced using the same tools, materials, and processes used to manufacture the final product.
- Verification: The next step is verification, where the manufacturer inspects the first sample to ensure it meets the customer’s specifications and requirements. This step involves measuring the critical characteristics identified at the planning stage and comparing them to the acceptance criteria.
- Documentation: Finally, the manufacturer documents the inspection process and results. This documentation includes a First Article Inspection Report (FAIR), which provides evidence of compliance to the customer. The FAIR includes information such as the inspection results, the inspection methods used, and any deviations or non-conformances found during the inspection.
By following these steps, the manufacturer can ensure that the parts meet the customer’s requirements and specifications. This helps to minimize quality issues, reduces costly rework, and ultimately improves customer satisfaction.
The documentation required for First Article Inspection includes:
- Engineering drawings and specifications
- Inspection checklists
- Manufacturing process sheets
- Material certifications
- Test reports
Benefits of a First Article Inspection
First Article Inspection offers several benefits to the manufacturing industry. Here are some of them:
- Reduced manufacturing errors
One of the primary benefits of FAI is that it helps identify manufacturing errors at an early stage. By inspecting the first sample produced, manufacturers can identify any non-conformances to customer requirements and specifications.
This allows them to take corrective action early in the process, preventing non-compliant parts and reducing waste.
Another benefit of FAI is that manufacturers save money. By identifying and resolving errors at an early stage, manufacturers can prevent additional costs if errors are found later in the production process.
This includes costs such as rework, scrap, and customer returns or rejections.
- Improved product quality
FAI helps ensure that the first sample meets all customer requirements, including design, engineering, and performance specifications. By doing so, manufacturers can ensure that subsequent parts produced meet the same quality standards.
This improves product quality, which leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Regulatory compliance
FAI is often a requirement for heavily regulated industries, such as aerospace, defense, and medical device manufacturing. By performing FAI, manufacturers can ensure they meet all regulatory requirements and avoid costly penalties or legal action.
- Risk mitigation
FAI helps mitigate the risk of quality issues arising during production. By identifying any potential issues at an early stage, manufacturers can take corrective action to prevent them from occurring.
This reduces the risk of delays, rework, and customer dissatisfaction.
By ensuring that the first sample produced meets all customer requirements and specifications, manufacturers can reduce manufacturing errors, save costs, improve product quality, ensure regulatory compliance, and mitigate quality issues.
In today’s highly competitive market, quality is paramount to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. First Article Inspection is a critical process that helps manufacturers ensure that their products meet customer requirements and specifications, as well as regulatory standards.
By identifying and resolving errors early in the production process, manufacturers can save costs, improve product quality, and reduce quality issues.
Furthermore, FAI can provide evidence of compliance to customers, which can build trust and strengthen relationships. In short, First Article Inspection is an essential tool for manufacturers looking to stay competitive, deliver quality products, and exceed customer expectations.
About IS Auditr
IS Auditr is a team of experienced ISO and Audit experts who offer several end-to-end services, certify businesses and help them enhance their day-to-day operations. If you want to know more about First Article Inspection, feel free to contact us.