The Digital Transformation of AS9110 Quality Management Systems

Manufacturing and maintenance practices in the aerospace industry have significantly advanced in the past two decades. Technology is rapidly advancing and even terms such as ‘Industry 4.0’ have been coined to address this rapid advancement in technology and its integration into the system. As digital technology and engineering gains prominence the question comes up of how quality management systems will evolve to keep pace with the digital transformation.

AS9110 provides a framework for aerospace quality management systems and the intent of the standard is to provide organization with a structured methodology for continual improvement. Digital tools will enhance the system and augment it but not replace the need for the framework of the quality management system. Digital tools have already been enabling quality management systems since the onset of computers with the majority fo documentation slowly making their way online to where all documents and records are electronically controlled and managed. It has made the process of making the right documents available to users easier and with mobile apps made it easy for personnel working on the shop floor quickly access relevant instructions.

Digitized software has also allowed for the quick collection of data in AS9100 systems, for precise inspections to be done through such as in thermal imaging as well as for augmented reality aspects to be introduced into maintenance routines and training regimens. Personnel on the shop floor using augmented reality tools can quickly identify the right areas to access and the accomplish tasks in the correct sequence without the need of referring to a physical or electronic document. The data collection is also automatically analyzed, and the user alerted when the trend may potentially pose a risk to the system.

These AS9100 digitized system also allow enable management with quick access to the data they need at any point in time in to give them the confidence that the system is functioning effectively per plan. With Machine learning and AI computers are enabling rapid advancements and improvement in the process line with organizational knowledge being captured along the way as well. Of course, this digitization comes with its own challenges that may be addressed through the risk clause in AS9110. These challenges include the security of the system from hackers, loss of integrity of IP and other data, and the inability to function effectively when the technology breaks down.

The digital age of quality management systems is here and cannot be ignored. However, the fundamentals of the system approach should not be forgotten. Use of digital technologies should be considered as part of the contextual external issue and the risks of integrating the same should be considered per clause 6.1 of AS9110. Further controls to manage the risks should be implemented in the operational phase and then assessed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *