Customer Specifications - Timely review (e.g. business ?days?, not weeks or months)



Customer Specifications

This is an old topic, but one which keeps rearing it’s ugly head.

QS-9000 Engineering Specifications states:
“The supplier shall establish a procedure to assure the
timely review (e.g. business “days”, not weeks or months), distribution and implementation of all customer engineering standards/specifications and changes.”

Obviously, everybody has a procedure stating how the review, distribution and implementation will be done. What about the determination of when a change is made?

I have a contract with Global (I am sure there are many others) to tell me when one of the ASTM, ANSI, IFI, ISO, SAE, and a whole bunch more, changes. They can even go so far as to tell me when some of the GM or Ford documents change (although I usually get notified a couple of months later). The problem I have is all the hundreds of customer specs that aren’t available. How do I track these? Logically I can’t call each customer daily to ask if they have changed anything. There is no directory to refer to and the contract agencies are no help.

When we quote a job, the customer specifies the spec we are to meet. Usually, these are one of the standard ones I mentioned earlier. We know we are quoting to the latest revision because Global says so. What if the spec we are asked to meet is “Fitzwilly P-2341”? We will ask for a copy of the spec which the customer gladly gives us. How do I show that the revision I have is current? There is no way for me to know if it changes unless Fitzwilly tells me. Can I state in my procedure that revision changes to part specific specifications is controlled and maintained by the customer? After all, the customer is required by QS-9000 to ensure use of current documents at all points of use – this should include their notification to us.

How do some of the rest of you handle this?

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Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
Well, since we're not a QS-9000 house my comments may be of no use to you, but FWIW I think it makes lots of sense to say the customer has to tell you if/when a revision changes. I assume that your powers of mindreading are not too much better than mine or the rest of the population, and I also assume that the customer would get pretty tired of you calling them every day saying "did anything change yet?". This leaves you with saying the customer must inform you of any changes in revision level. Now, maybe the customer will "forget" to tell you now and then. I have that happen to me on occasion but it is caught in contract review. They call for part ABC123 Rev. C and our latest revision in the doc master list is Rev. B, so we ask them to kindly provide Rev. C and there is no problem. No harm, no foul.

What else can you do?

Mike S.


Super Moderator
Super Moderator
D, FWIW...
At the QS division I came from, we had a customer spec file in the computer system, part of the contract review was to ensure that the spec the customer listed (rev. d) was the one we had on file. If the customer asked for rev. e, the sales department would know as soon as they entered the spec into the inquiry portion of the sales order that we did not have rev. e on file. If we didn't have the rev that the customer was referring to, we asked the customer to send the new rev before we quoted (in case there was something way different and we would no longer be capable)

You could do the same by publishing an intranet page, or having a shared folder for someone to look up the current rev. It worked fine for us, we never got a nonconformance for external customer specs.

Ken K

We are in the same boat as you are Dave. I use the IHS service to track any updates to specs. Like you too, I usually get notified a couple of months after the Big Three release them. The Japanese I won't even discuss.

What I did with the other customer specifications is I wrote up a policy which stated that we would be contacted immediately if any updates to customer specification would occur. I signed the policy, our SQA signed the policy and our customers QA manager signed the policy. We each kept a copy on file. Ours was added to the Lab Manual and our Lab Scope.

What they did was add us to their update contact list. Does this work? Can't really say because we have never been notified of any changes, but I feel a little more secure knowing a policy is in effect. The ball's in their court.


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
All good advice because the bottom line is you manufacture to a print rev. They can't ding you if your customer doesn't notify you of changes (like an ECN system) and get your agreement which should trigger you to get the spec / print of the rev level they are changing to. A customer can make print changes until the cows come home (or whereever cows go besides into hamburger and such) but until they notify you it's of no consequence - particularly until you agree to the changes. If your contract is for Part No. 123uey on print Asd-0374655 rev. A1, it doesn't matter if they are at rev z10000 - until they get your agreement you're not obligated to the change. Heck - they could call out a print change which could cost you 50 times more to make it.

Even with the ANSI specs and such - take a close look and most of these are important to design and planning. When I worked in military manufacturing we had the heavy duty service from Globe or one of them. It was microfilm and microfiche back then. When I had a project / drawing which called out a mil spec (such as a testing method in Mil-Std-810), once the contract was let it made no difference if the spec changed during the life of the contract unless a revision to contract was officially processed through a revision system (ammendment to contract) - which I never saw myself. I had parts being tested to Mil-Std-810C even when rev E was out. The drawing called for 810 C so that's the method we used.

Just some thoughts.



That is more or less how we are treating it. If we don't get a revision from the customer, a revision doesn't exist.

We need to keep up to date on some though as we will get prints that say "must conform to GM6124M" to use an example. There is no revision date specified so the current revision has to be assumed. I feel those are covered via the Global contract.

I see no reason (and I think I read it here as well) to chase customers for their latest. We do as Mike, Steel and Ken have said - control the documents they have supplied. The requirement to update the documents rests with the customer and will be handled via our contract review system.

Thanks for the valuable input all (hope I didn't mis-read you).


Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
another angle

Here's another doc. control angle that I thought I'd run by the Cove brain trust for vetting...

One of our product lines involves manufaturing custom materials. Occasionally one of our customers will send us a drawing or PO with a competitor's material called out along with a mechanical drawing for the machining requirements. Let's say the PO or drawing calls out ABC company's (our competitor's) material ABC100. Our company, XYZ, has an "equivalent" mateial XYZ100 but our "standard" spec's. may vary slightly from ABC's. At trade shows, etc. I usually pick-up a copy of ABC's latest catalog (which lists their spec's.) and keep it on file for reference, but it would be almost impossible to make positively sure I had the latest ABC catalog -- after all they could issue a new one tomorrow and I'd have no way of knowing for maybe a month or more.

I know that ABC, being a competitor, won't put me on their update list, but they occasionally face the same problem when a customer of theirs calls out our XYZ material. The way I've handled this is a statement that says, in a case where the PO calls out a competitor's material type only, without listing those spec's., I will use the latest version of the competitor's specifications currently available in-house, which is not guaranteed to the the latest spec. issued by the competitor.

Over the years, this practice has not caused any significant issues, but I wonder what ya'll think of it or if anyone else deals with a similar situation. Fire away!

Mike S.:smokin:
Been there... Done that

I generally sent the customer my spec with an acceptance to be signed off. Did that to protect myself, many customers were reselling the product and I had no knowledge of the end user.


Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
AS an FYI, I have done implementations in electronics companies where during the design phase the engineers use catalogues for component specs and such. They controlled the catalogues (!) because many times components were chosen by using the specs stated in the catalogue. This is an interesting aspect of control of documents of external origin.


Quite Involved in Discussions
It is amazing how mant customers that we have that fail to give an updated print and do not put revisions on their POs. We had to pull teeth to get one company to give us a list of rev. levels for their drawings.:frust:
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