Many of the companies I deal with are sending me information that they are QS9000 compliant. I think I know what this means, their Quality System looks QS9000, but they are not registered as such. If anyone can shed some light on this subject, it would be much appreciated.
Many companies model their systems to meet the requirements of the various "Quality" system requirements or specifications, (ISO/QS/TS...) and probably show evidence of compliance through their internal audit mechanism and management review.
While they comply with the requirements they choose for whatever reason (usually $$$$$) not to get registered by a third party source. These are usually your smaller tier II and lower subcontractors to tier I suppliers, at least in automotive.
Most companies are committed to a quality system that is effective, but it is a big step to quantify the "cost" effectiveness of formal registration.
In my opinion, I suggest the buyer beware. I think the term "compliant" is being used way too loosely by too many companies. Many times they have a relatively strong process control system and a solid inspection system. But they often lack a solid support system (internal auditing, CAR, documented continuous improvement, solid APQP, etc.). One or two accepted PPAP's doesn't make their system "QS compliant".
I agree with both replies above.
In my experience I have encountered companies truly compliant but not registered.
Unfortunately I have encountered more companies that claim to be QS/ISO compliant and are miles from the truth in their claims. I got the distinct impression that the claim was more of a lure than anything.
The problem with the "compliance" claim is that it is unregulated. There is no third-party to verify and qualify, hence the registration or certification as evidence of that compliance.
I agree that a supplier audit is always a good idea, and the truth, either way it lands, is still the truth. When a truly compliant supplier is found it makes our jobs so much easier.
In my company we have modeled our system on ISO. However since the company is small, there are areas that are not addressed in great depth. I do not say we are "compliant", but I do state "This manual complies with the intent of.....". I've not had a complaint from any customer auditors.