Products are defined and controlled by a variety of engineering documents, including drawings and associated specifications, bills of material, approved vendor lists, and test procedures and specifications. Changes are typically controlled via engineering change orders, with the associated documentation updated and maintained accordingly.
Yet actual products, despite the most robust engineering processes, frequently don’t conform to their controlling documentation. Results can be onerous, including the necessity of product recalls or field repairs; suspended shipments per UL directive; financial claims due to matters of product liability; and loss of reputation.
The culprits are many, but most of them relate to matters of time, distance, and inadequate communication among those charged with updating and following the governing documentation. A frequent problem, for example, is that properly approved engineering change orders might trigger changes in a company’s internal documentation, but not in the documentation it had submitted perhaps months or years earlier to suppliers or to various regulatory agencies, such as UL. In this latter event, for example, the product would be out of compliance with UL at its next build, thus placing it in danger of being put on ship hold or recall following the next UL audit.
Another such problem accrues when products are built at a separate facility or by one or more EMS suppliers. As changes accumulate and as time goes by, it isn’t unusual for the manufacturing facility – either a customer plant or an EMS supplier — to have much better and more accurate product documentation than does the engineering unit, in which event the company has lost effective control of its own products.
That’s why AMI offers middle market customers the same expert product documentation and compliance services that it employs in its own engineering and manufacturing operations.
These services focus on document review and product compliance audits. Document review involves comparing control documentation for the same product or products from the several locations that use those documents. Examples of such locations are the customer’s engineering unit, its manufacturing facility or EMS supplier, and applicable regulatory agencies, such as UL. AMI employs a relatively sophisticated process to ensure a relatively simple outcome, which is that the product documentation used in each location specifies exactly the same thing. If not, then AMI takes steps with its customer to ensure the differences are resolved.
Following that, and using the then uniform documentation, AMI will perform an “out of box” compliance audit on the actual product or products. This audit, which expands on the rigorous routines used by UL inspectors, is detailed to the component and AVL level and determines relative compliance with not only all documented specifications, but also with other central and agreed upon expectations, including designated workmanship standards.
Customers can benefit from these services on either a product or project basis or on a subscription basis. This latter option provides a continuous service, with every product covered within designated intervals and new products on demand. Provided AMI is included in the ECO communication process, an ancillary benefit of this approach is that AMI will always have on hand a full and up to date set of product documentation, which it could then distribute electronically to designated customer organizations and suppliers with each change or on a quarterly or other regularly scheduled basis.
AMI, which provides high value product documentation and compliance services, is the right size and the best choice for the EMS middle market.