How much do you know about the first article inspection (FAI)? This method is indispensable in the course of product manufacturing to ensure the design of the product fits the units on the production line.
The benefits of FAI range from reducing the risk of future defects to improving customer satisfaction. It’s conducted in a few stages, after which a report is provided in order to approve a particular product for mass production.
Here is everything you need to know first article inspection.
What is it?
First article inspection refers to the examination of at least a couple of products from the first production run. Irrespective of the name, such an inspection isn’t conducted on the initial product but on several samples selected randomly. Check out this page to learn about product and process inspection.
Moreover, FAI is of crucial significance for the upcoming production process so as for the orders of clients to meet their exact requirements. Unless potential issues are detected in the first production run, they would be discovered during the pre-shipment examination, when it’s already too late to make any improvements. The prevention of defects in the course of the early stages helps manufacturers save plenty of time and money instead of being incapable to sell the entire order.
In the event of an approved pre-production sample, there is no need for FAI, as the purpose of both types of samples is to show whether mass production meets the expectations of clients. Nevertheless, there is a slight difference between these two types of samples. Pre-production units are tailored by the employees in the research and development department. In contrast, first articles are manufactured on a production line.
In order for the examination of the first articles to yield the desired results, these should be made with the same materials, tools, and equipment as those used in the process of mass production. Also, the employees working on these products should be the same in charge of the manufacturing process.
When is FAI most beneficial?
Even though FAI provides an array of benefits in multiple industries, certain industries stand to gain the most from such examinations. For instance, first article inspection is indispensable in the military, aerospace, and automotive industries. Also, such an examination is essential in the production of medical devices, electronics, and machined parts.
In general, FAI is highly recommended in the manufacturing of components with precise dimensions, as well as products made from costly materials. Nevertheless, conducting FAI doesn’t mean excluding pre-shipment examination, as both procedures play a vital role in the quality of the final product.
What does the procedure include?
A first inspection procedure has to contain a couple of steps in order to be conducted successfully. For example, the first step involves making a comparison of the approved prototype drawings and features with the actual product. It’s crucial for the staff to have a good understanding of the client’s requirements in order to follow them properly.
In the course of the verification stage, the examiners are supposed to identify potential vulnerabilities, which might lead to product malfunction during mass production. Upon detecting any vulnerabilities, manufacturers should make modifications to the tools and the entire manufacturing process. The ultimate step involves inspecting the safety and function of samples before approving them for mass production.
What happens if a sample fails the test?
During a first article inspection, the process of manufacturing is paused until the results are delivered. In the event of a sample failure, manufacturing stops over a given timeframe. In the meantime, inspectors are expected to detect the cause of the defect, as well as come up with a convenient way to address it.
Once the cause is found and eliminated, another FAI is performed to check whether the manufacturing process should continue. An additional check is pivotal in industries where precise measurements are required, such as in the defense and aerospace industry. The following link, https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/041415/what-aerospace-sector.asp, provides insight into the history of the aerospace sector.
The bottom line
The benefits of FAI are worthwhile in a large number of industries.
The results these tests provide improve manufacturing processes and customer satisfaction!