What is ‘First Article Inspection’? – How it can save entire mass production mistakes.You may be wondering what First Article Inspection is? First Article Inspection, or First Article Quality Control (FAQC), refers to the inspection of one of the very first pieces out of “real” mass production. FAQC is an important step for companies to make sure they have quality products before moving forward on mass production. It ensures that your good idea will be executed without any problems from start to finish of the production process.
Why are First Articles Inspected?FAI can save your company from losing thousands – even millions! Most factory managers will not start mass production on a product unless FAQC is passed. It ensures that the first article of your product produced by the factory is acceptable and without defects or issues. This procedure helps eliminate any potential quality problems before large numbers of units are made, which saves you time and money in the long run!
When is FAI conducted?The FAQC inspection is conducted once the factory has produced at least 100 pieces of the article. The FAI will check for issues like defamation, rough surface (if it’s a metal product), etc. This process allows finding any errors that may have occurred during mass production and correcting them right away before more pieces are made.
What happens during First Article Inspection?Not all inspection procedures are the same, it varies for different factories or articles, but the general steps are as follows:
- The requirements for passed FAI are clear and concise documentation. It is not a time to test the product; it should have been already tested during the pre-production sampling stage.
- FAI inspector will check and verify that manufacturing processes are following approved drawings, specifications, and work instructions
- Inspector also verifies that all first articles meet customer’s requirements
- Documentation includes First Article Report (FAR) and First Article Photo Gallery
- Final approval will be given or rejected with the reasons if FAI fails
Who should be involved?FAI requires an extra set-up cost as well as more material. While this cost is typically borne by the supplier, it’s important to have all stakeholders – such as marketing, purchasing, quality assurance, and of course production – to make sure First Article Inspection goes smoothly. Make sure you are familiar with FAQC before your factory starts mass producing your product! There are many benefits to be had from conducting a FAQC Inspection and we’ve outlined some of the top ones below:
- FAI provides the opportunity to fix any issues with quality before mass production begins
- For companies, FAI helps increase consumer confidence in their product and company by ensuring that no defects exist.
- FAI is meant for one of your very first articles made – not preproduction samples. It’s an important step to take to make sure your product is made correctly and without any errors.
- FAI should be conducted by a team of people, including representatives from production, quality assurance, purchasing, and marketing. By having all stakeholders involved, you’re more likely to have a successful FAI.
What does First Article Inspection include?FAI is not the same for every factory and product. It varies depending on different factories or products, but typically it includes:
- FAI ensures that defects are kept to a minimum during mass production by testing physical dimensions of material/components
- FAI also tests functionality – making sure the product does what it’s supposed to do
- FAI also ensures that your products will be labeled correctly, and functionality is working before packaging begins. This includes testing whether all items are accounted for in total package number, etc.
- FAI also includes an aging test, which is testing to see if the product will function correctly after being stored for a certain amount of time.
- FAI typically involves checking material and components closely before mass production begins – so you can avoid any potential quality problems that could arise during production! FAI also ensures that all materials and components are accounted for before production begins.
- FAI also tests the number of pieces per package – making sure they’re correct
- FAI is typically completed by a team of people, including representatives from marketing, purchasing, quality assurance, and production so everyone knows what to expect!
What Issues does FAI catch?
- Wrong material/component
- Poorly positioned/loaded material/component
- Inconsistent quality of material/component
- Wrong processing equipment used
- Poorly set processing equipment
- Inability to confirm if a part is acceptable or not
- Wrong equipment used
- Incorrect assembly procedure that can cause problems later in the production process
- Manufacturing issues (i.e., if any parts are missing, incorrectly oriented when assembled)