Internal Quality Audits are a Must for an Electronic Manufacturer
Clients depend on their electronic contract manufacturing company to provide efficient, compliant, and secure services to produce their products.
That's why your Electronic Contract Manufacturer, or ECM, should consider internal audits a must. It's how you can ensure your ECM is doing what they say they are doing and identify gaps in policies and procedures.
Any ECM needs to take the audits very seriously and have a thorough understanding of the processes.
What is an Internal Quality Audit?
An Internal Quality Audit is performed within an organization to measure its strengths and weaknesses against its own procedures or methods. Audits verify compliance, conformance, or performance. Some audits have special administrative purposes such as auditing documents, risk, performance, or following up on completed corrective actions.
The audit is conducted by a third-party who is employed by the organization being audited but has no vested interest in the results. The findings will then be used internally to identify what improvements can be made.
Think of it as a practice audit. You wouldn’t put on a play without a dress rehearsal, right? This is the company’s chance to practice and prepare for a certification audit. It's also a way to identify issues before the arise and ensure continuous improvement.
Requests for correcting nonconformities or findings are very common. Corrective action is taken to eliminate the causes of an existing nonconformity, defect, or other undesirable situation in order to prevent recurrence.
Corrective action is about eliminating the root causes of a problem and not just following and correcting an effect the problem created. Most of the nonconformities found will be minor and will be easily corrected. Proof of the correction will be provided to auditors. This is extremely important. If minor issues are not corrected, they could lead to major nonconformities. These are major issues that could affect the status of your ECM’s certification. Therefore, an internal audit can catch issues before they become larger problems that may eventually disturb the entire manufacturing process.
Since most corrective actions cannot be performed at the time of the audit, a follow-up audit may be required to verify that corrections were made. Due to the high cost of a single-purpose follow-up audit, it will more than likely be combined with the next scheduled audit of the area.
However, this decision should be based on the importance and risk of the finding. A company may also conduct follow-up audits to verify preventive actions were taken as a result of performance issues that may be reported as opportunities for improvement.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and The Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) conduct third-party audits to check compliance. However, once your manufacturer has been audited for certification, they will be reassessed at periodic intervals as proof of continued quality.
ISO audits are typically performed once every three years.
SSAE audits are performed annually.
But, that's no reason to let standards slip for your electronic contract manufacturer in-between formal audits. This is why it is so important to conduct internal quality audits. This will make sure quality is maintained during the time frame between the formal audits by ISO and SAE.
Internal audits are also effective for gap analysis. This may reveal areas that can be improved.
An effective gap analysis involves finding the requirements of a business and determining the current capabilities of a business. The gap analysis also applies for exploring new certifications.
When an EMS is looking at being audited for a new version of the certification, they need to understand what is new with the upcoming revision and put the necessary processes and procedures in place. This all needs to be complete before the next formal audit. Often, and internal audit will be the only way of knowing if your company is ready.
Keeping One Step Ahead
Internal quality audits are a must for any company looking to continuously improve. The audit creates a mindset across the company to increase efficiencies, assess risk, and increase quality on an ongoing basis.
Levison Enterprises takes this method of checks and balances seriously. We maintain our current AS9100 and ISO certifications with frequent internal audits to maintain quality and identify areas for improvement.
Our clients depend on us to create electronic projects that are created efficiently and with a quality mindset. If you are looking to partner with an electronics manufacturer with high-quality standards, contact Levison Enterprises for a free quote on your next project.