Question about Customer Supplied Equipment


AS9100 section 8.4 states that "The organization shall be responsible for the conformity of all externally provided processes, products, and services, including from sources defined by the customer."

That said - We had previously received customer furnished equipment (cable assemblies) that was built by a 3rd party and sent to us directly. When we received the items, we were instructed by our customer to send the cable assemblies to them for inspection - there were going to be drawing changes, and they wanted to inspect these assemblies in particular.

After the customer inspected them and approved them - We received the cable assemblies back along with the engineering changes to the rack we're building and I noticed that the cables didn't conform to the drawings that were provided. Our customer didn't notice, inspected the cable assemblies, and sent them to us for our production team to continue their work.

Does the AS9100 standard require us to ensure conformity - AFTER our customer has already inspected and approved the items for use - even though they are not confirming to the drawing package and changes that were made?

I guess the question is - If I happen to notice that the parts were not built correctly, but the parts were approved by our customer, are we required to make changes to these approved parts in order to ensure conformity?

Big Jim

There are two anti-complaint clauses that probably apply to this situation.

The first one you already noted in 8.4.1 "The organization shall be responsible for the conformity of all externally provided processes, products, and services, including from sources defined by the customer."

The awkward thing here is the external provider is the customer, but that doesn't absolve you from dealing with the variance when you discover it. For that go back to e "The organization shall conduct a review before committing to supply products and services to the customer, to include . . . contract or order requirements differing from those previously expressed . . . "

Perhaps this is more clearly expressed in contract law where one of the elements of a contract is that there is a meeting of the minds. I sort of wonder if that happened here. Better wording in AS9100D more toward "meeting of the minds" could have been helpful.

The second anti-complaint clause is Note 1 of 8.4.2 "Customer verification activities performed at any level of the supply chain does not absolve the organization of its responsibility to provide acceptable processes, products, and services and to comply with all requirements." Keep in mind that notes in AS9100D are not auditable, but are provided for illumination. That said, I will note that in the AS9100C version this clause was not a note. I will also note that although the word "shall" is not included in the wording, there is also no "should" here clearly showing this is a suggestion.

What should be clear though is that it is your responsibility to ensure your product meets customer requirements no matter how it came into realization. It should also be clear that you have a responsibility to address such issues with the customer as soon as you identify them.

That all said, this is an example of poor writing on the part of the IAQG to ensure the clauses of the standard are clearly written so that it doesn't take a law degree to sort it out.

This is also an example of how the standard places all of the blame for misunderstandings between suppliers and customers to the suppliers. None of that is addressed here. Customers that don't have to answer to AS9100D auditors can get away with sloppy instructions and interfaces with their suppliers.
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