AS9100C Clause 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

Buckyb

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#1
In our current Approved Supplier List (ASL) all suppliers are identified with status, product type (raw material, hardware, special process, other) and last review date.

The problem: I have a number of suppliers who are statused as "conditional" because I don't have a current survey on them. I have already generated a nonconformance against the management of the ASL. As part of the corrective action each have been contacted requesting surveys or updated information.

The question: Can I order parts or materials from these suppliers as long as I have evidence that I'm attempting to correct the conditional status? My assumption is that ordering from them would be our call based on the guidance of 7.4.1c in the Standard. Did I answer my own question? :notme:
 
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Mikishots

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#2
Re: AS9100C 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

In our current Approved Supplier List (ASL) all suppliers are identified with status, product type (raw material, hardware, special process, other) and last review date.

The problem: I have a number of suppliers who are statused as "conditional" because I don't have a current survey on them. I have already generated a nonconformance against the management of the ASL. As part of the corrective action each have been contacted requesting surveys or updated information.

The question: Can I order parts or materials from these suppliers as long as I have evidence that I'm attempting to correct the conditional status? My assumption is that ordering from them would be our call based on the guidance of 7.4.1c in the Standard. Did I answer my own question? :notme:
Was the reason for the missing surveys because of the supplier didn't complete or return them, or because the supplier quality group didn't ask for one? This would be important information in order to assess the correct root cause for the nonconformance.

7.4.1 (c) is specifically for when the supplier is not meeting agreed-upon requirements. Some may interpret a failure to complete and return a survey as unfulfillment of requirements, but typically this clause refers to supplied product or service.

The decision to purchase from these conditionally approved suppliers should be part of a risk assessment as defined in AS9100C 7.1.2. Risk criteria, identification and mitigation should be addressed. Nowhwere does the standard state that you cannot purchase from conditionally approved suppliers, but it does state that you must define the process, responsibilities and authority for the approval status decision, changes of the approval status and conditions for a controlled use of suppliers depending on the supplier's approval status.
 
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Buckyb

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#3
Re: AS9100C 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

The reason for surveys not on file lies with previous managament of Approved Suppliers. We have 159 Approved Suppliers however, 43 either never had a survey completed or the paperwork was lost.

Yes, I agree with you on 7.4.1c however, I need to be able to order from these suppliers. So, your response on the risk assessment is credible as that would certainly be a player. We actually review our supplier's ability to provide product that meets our PO requirements (documented). My concern again is the ability to order while these suppliers are "conditional". The Standard does not provide direction on this and we all know there is enough interpretation out there already.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#4
Re: AS9100C 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

We actually review our supplier's ability to provide product that meets our PO requirements (documented).
That being the case, you should ask yourself what is the value of such supplier surveys. I have ranted (more than once) about such surveys, because I have NEVER EVER seen a supplier answering those surveys in a way that could disqualify them from being a supplier.

If you have other means of "assuring" the supplier's ability to satisfy your requirements, I would drop the (self imposed) supplier survey bureaucracy. As for what to do when you have suppliers in a "conditional" status, typically (and from a risk management perspective) you should increase the level of scrutiny of products coming from those suppliers. Most organizations that I have worked with, tighten the checks for "conditionally approved suppliers", until they reach confidence in the supplier's capabilities.

But, again, I would encourage you to question the validity of such surveys.
 

Mikishots

Trusted Information Resource
#5
Re: AS9100C 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

The reason for surveys not on file lies with previous managament of Approved Suppliers. We have 159 Approved Suppliers however, 43 either never had a survey completed or the paperwork was lost.

Yes, I agree with you on 7.4.1c however, I need to be able to order from these suppliers. So, your response on the risk assessment is credible as that would certainly be a player. We actually review our supplier's ability to provide product that meets our PO requirements (documented). My concern again is the ability to order while these suppliers are "conditional". The Standard does not provide direction on this and we all know there is enough interpretation out there already.
Of course you can order from suppliers you've listed as "conditional"; if you've decided that you can't, there's no conditions, it's a flat-out "unapproved".

So... you've identified three levels:

1) Approved with no conditions.
2) Approved with conditions.
3) Unapproved. This one is dicey; it can mean that the supplier has been disqualified (but is still listed as a supplier) or it may mean that they are unapproved but can be used with defined restrictions and conditions (thus, making them into a #2). This is the confusion that is brought up in other responses.

If an unapproved vendor appears on your approved suppliers list...well, it's just getting stupid - you can see where this is going, right?

Another thing you have to consider if you use this graded system - it's easy to demote a supplier from a #1 to #2, but what method do you have to promote them? In most places I've audited, the grading is only changed when a vendor is screwing up, and they seem to languish in purgatory forever. The only thing this does is add more work due to the extra inspections or other levels of confirmations needed because of the "conditions" you've placed on them.

There is another aspect as well (ye gad) and that is the fact that the vendor may be set to conditional because they are only approved to make a certain variation of a part, but not others. In this case, the conditional status has nothing to do with performance - it's solely due to approvals.

Hope that helps.
 

insect warfare

QA=Question Authority
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#6
That being the case, you should ask yourself what is the value of such supplier surveys. I have ranted (more than once) about such surveys, because I have NEVER EVER seen a supplier answering those surveys in a way that could disqualify them from being a supplier.

If you have other means of "assuring" the supplier's ability to satisfy your requirements, I would drop the (self imposed) supplier survey bureaucracy. As for what to do when you have suppliers in a "conditional" status, typically (and from a risk management perspective) you should increase the level of scrutiny of products coming from those suppliers. Most organizations that I have worked with, tighten the checks for "conditionally approved suppliers", until they reach confidence in the supplier's capabilities.
Buckyb, this all relates back to paragraph 7.4.1 which says, "The organization shall ensure that purchased product conforms to specified purchase requirements. The type and extent of control applied to the supplier and the purchased product shall be dependent upon the effect of the purchased product on subsequent product realization or the final product."

Here this paragraph is allowing your organization the flexibility to do whatever is justifiably reasonable to ensure the quality of raw materials coming in (and finished goods eventually going out). It doesn't prescribe the use of a survey for evaluation purposes (per se), but your organization or your customers might require it. If I were you and I found out that wasn't the case, as an auditor I would be tempted to rule your findings simply as an opportunity for improvement (OFI).

In our current Approved Supplier List (ASL) all suppliers are identified with status, product type (raw material, hardware, special process, other) and last review date.

The problem: I have a number of suppliers who are statused as "conditional" because I don't have a current survey on them. I have already generated a nonconformance against the management of the ASL. As part of the corrective action each have been contacted requesting surveys or updated information.

The question: Can I order parts or materials from these suppliers as long as I have evidence that I'm attempting to correct the conditional status? My assumption is that ordering from them would be our call based on the guidance of 7.4.1c in the Standard. Did I answer my own question? :notme:
So you've already determined the status of each existing supplier you work with (with qualifiers like OK - Conditional - Not OK, what have you...). That's good. So, for these "conditional" suppliers: wouldn't "tightening" the samples at the incoming inspection phase (or auditing the supplier at their location, if applicable) be a more reasonable solution here than simply prohibiting the ordering from that particular supplier?

Besides, who's to say your "conditional" suppliers aren't already capable of supplying you with top-notch materials or hardware? Your incoming quality control and supplier audits (where intended) would no doubt be two of the best opportunities to evaluate and weed out the riff-raff. What if, in the process of doing this, you actually end up determining whether or not your "conditional" suppliers are actually capable of sending your organization the high quality stuff? And what if, based on those results, you end up minimizing the negative effects that a "conditional" supplier could have on the bigger picture? Food for thought...

If they were brand new suppliers, or if there were other special conditions prevailing to that supplier, then I could see something like a supplier survey being of some help in determining whether or not they are capable, but if you have already had previous business with an existing supplier, your incoming quality control and supplier audits could make a survey seem trivial by nature.

Brian :rolleyes:
 

Big Jim

Super Moderator
#7
Re: AS9100C 7.4.1 Appoved Supplier "Conditional" Status

That being the case, you should ask yourself what is the value of such supplier surveys. I have ranted (more than once) about such surveys, because I have NEVER EVER seen a supplier answering those surveys in a way that could disqualify them from being a supplier.

If you have other means of "assuring" the supplier's ability to satisfy your requirements, I would drop the (self imposed) supplier survey bureaucracy. As for what to do when you have suppliers in a "conditional" status, typically (and from a risk management perspective) you should increase the level of scrutiny of products coming from those suppliers. Most organizations that I have worked with, tighten the checks for "conditionally approved suppliers", until they reach confidence in the supplier's capabilities.

But, again, I would encourage you to question the validity of such surveys.
I don't know how many times I've run across buyers that completely misunderstand the purpose of supplier surveys. They seem to think that the survey itself is magic, that they are collected to obtain their pixie dust, and that nothing else is needed. What is important is the evaluation of a survey. Even then, they are of limited use and should be considered as nothing more than a starting point.
 

Buckyb

Involved In Discussions
#8
Great inputs from everyone. I do agree that the survey can end up not providing value-add. I try to do everything in the QMS as a value add. As a buyer/customer I want the supplier to provide me with the goods or services that I require on my PO. I expect them to meet certain standards (same as 7.4.2g, h and i). I provide them with an "Approved Supplier Guidance" procedure that tells them what we expect of their quality system. We are a company of 13 people and I am a party of 1 in Quality. On site evaluation of suppliers is out of the question so I rely on two things. First our survey which gives me a point of contact for Quality, are they "Certified", if not, what quality controls are in place and how do they handle nonconformity. Secondly, quality of received goods and services. What we receive drives the status of the Supplier above all else. Our company has one customer requiring AS9100 registration for our aerospace ground equipment that we make (not aircraft). Our lead times are long so supplier OTD is not a factor. As long as we get what we want, we're happy. Do I need a huge evaluation matrix on each supplier for OTD, rejections, on-site evals, monitor their records, etc........absolutely not. Where is the value add? I am going to buy from these suppliers as long as they give me what I need. Keeping detailed records is absurd in our case. Having said that, just keeping up with 7.4.1a is hardly value add for us.
 
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