Quality under Manufacturing or separate entity


T Russo

I work for a small (less than 15 employees) Aerospace company that is currently MIL-I 45208 compliant. We are in the process of setting up a Quality System with our sights set on a ISO/AS9100 certification. This is required of us by our customers.

In the process of defining our process and our structure a question has come up about moving Quality under Manufacturing as it pertains to the manufacturing process (First Articles, In-Process Inspections, SPC etc.) A seperate QA Mgr. would then be a manager for the QMS, Supplier Quality, Final inspection and things of that nature.

I'd like to hear your experiences dealing with Quality under Manufacturing vs. a stand alone department. How does this affect ISO? Things to think about when making the decision etc. :confused:

Thanks in Advance! :bonk:

Mike S.

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Welcome to the cove. You'll likely get many opinions on this question, here's mine FWIW:

ISO doesn't care if you have 1 or 10 "quality managers", nor do they care what "department" QA is "under" the aegis of (i.e. Manufacturing, Finance, Admin, etc.). Aside from requiring a "management rep" be assigned, ISO doesn't dictate requirements here. You define your reporting structure and personnel assignments however it best fits your organization.

It is purely my personal opinion that in such a small org. I would think 1 QM could manage all aspects of First Articles, In-Process Inspections, SPC, the QMS, Supplier Quality, Final inspection etc. Maybe more than 1 person is needed to do all the work, but I'd think 1 Manager would be quite enough.

Regardless of where QA fits in the org chart, the same issues will come up: QA must have the authority to carry out the customer requirements and internal QA policies without being overrun or overruled inappropriately. It is easy to SAY in writing that a company will do such-and-such, but it is much harder to actually DO it -- especially when it gets to crunch-time. Results are what count, not format. JMO.


Hi and welcome to the Cove.

Just my opinion -

Quality is a support group. Quality is not responsible for quality - the company is. Quality serves manufacturing by using specialized techniques to help manufacturing meet the needs of the customer. Quality can serve as the eyes and voice of the customer, but quality can't manufacture the parts.

It really doesn't matter which "tag" you put quality under as long as you don't arrive at a situation where quality is compromised because of a reporting structure. You want to avoid a case of "the fox guarding the chickens". Even if quality is part of manufacturing, both can be represented equally to upper management to ensure consideration of both sides.

We have experienced both and found there is very little difference between the 2 systems.




Hello T,

I work for a small (total of 6 employees)OEM that builds test equipment, supervisory controls and custom power supplies for commercial and aerospace. We just went through our ISO9001:1994 recertification and AS9100 Rev:A compliance audit. I was very nervous about it because the whole QMS was dumped in my lap one month before:eek: It actually went great! Being a small company whose customers require us to be ISO certified, we all wear more than one hat.

The president of the company is the Production Manager/Drafter/QA Inspector/Purchasing Manager/Internal Auditor/Service/Delivery and Sales representative. oh and our ISO Management Representative.

The Test technician is also an Assembler and Material handler.

The Incoming Recieving Inspector is also in charge of Shipping /Internal Auditor and QA Inspector, who handles Detail Inspection Reports.

The book keeper works part time and handles benefits and billing.

The owner/engineer well is semi retired..., his son is the Production Manager whose wife is the book keeper.

I am the Quality Manager/Source Release Representative/First Article Inspector/Corrective and Preventive Action Coordinator/Audit Coordinator/Internal Auditor/
Assembly supervisor/Assembler/Fill In Production Manager/Training Coordinator/Manufacturing Instruction Developer and in the process of revamping our Quality Manual and procedures for the transistion to ISO9001:2000/AS9100:A certification coming up in October!!!!!!!!!!!:bonk:
I have a High School diploma, been at this company for 15 years and I don't know squat about being a Quality Manager! They laid him off... I almost forgot what I was trying to say...

With a company of your size it seems impossible to have a stand alone department. Everyone at my company is "Top Management", therefore our Quality policy and procedures dictate that Top Management is responsible for all of it....

If somebody doesn't go out and get us more work, I may become a Sales Rep too! or unemployed....:frust: Hope this was helpful or at least interesting to you.
Thanks to everyone who posts to this forum, I found it by accident and it has been very helpful!:bigwave::)
Re: Quality/Manufacturing

Good advice all along as far as I can see. As Mike S said: As long as you have an appointed management Rep. all is ok with ISO. I also think Raptors post is very much to the point:

Raptorwild said:
With a company of your size it seems impossible to have a stand alone department. Everyone at my company is "Top Management", therefore our Quality policy and procedures dictate that Top Management is responsible for all of it....
Thanks to everyone who posts to this forum, I found it by accident and it has been very helpful!:bigwave::)

Russo and Raptor: Glad to see some fresh blood in the forums. Welcome...:bigwave: And Raptor: I found this place more or less by chance too, and it's been an immense help to me ever since.


T Russo

Thank you for all the input!

We are well aware that in a company this size people have to wear many hats. I guess the concern is that we are taking the function of First Articles, In-process inspection, SPC etc away from QA (we have 3 people in QA) and making the ME (we have 2) in charge of those tasks.

When you have adequate personal to cover the function does it make good business sense to have the ME in total control over the quality of the product? I COMPLETELY understand that you cannot inspect quality into your process. We agree that Manufacturing needs to build quality into the product through control of their processes. We have always had a second layer, QA, to insure that quality was being met.

We had achieved a flawless quality record with our customers and the thought with upper management is that this was due to excellent manufacturing processes and the commitment of QA to focus on our quality reputation. This has slipped in months past and it began at the point where the last member of the old QA team left the company. The new individual who has taken the position is more new school and wants to put more of the tasks for insuring quality with Manufacturing. We are encountering turmoil among the ranks! Old school, new school, wasn't broke don't fix it, move into the new methodologies to be more competitive etc.

And here I sit, the ISO girl, who is trying to document a system that is not yet defined!
:frust: :bonk: :bonk: :bonk: :frust:

Love the board! Thank you to all who post such informative and humorous messages! Sometimes I check in for information and sometimes just to read your conversations for a laugh...both equally valuable to me at this stage in my game!!!! :D
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