In preparation for AS 9120 certification, we spent some time reviewing and adapting our long-standing ISO 9001:2015 processes and procedures in this area, particularly our processes for physical receipt and inspection of goods, followed by our certification controls. In each process, we continually asked ourselves whether what we were putting in place really was robust enough to prevent counterfeit material getting through.
In the end, our external Auditor obviously thought we had done enough, as we passed the initial and second certification audits (and one review audit since) without any qualifications, either major or minor. However, there is still a slight doubt in the mind: would we be good enough when we are tested for real?
Well now we can sleep soundly again. We recently had a “real” test where everything worked as it was designed to:
- We ordered some material from an approved supplier to make up an order for a customer: grade CC491K (LG2 / W-5 – a tin bronze alloy also known as red bronze or leaded gunmetal).
- Liam and Richard, our inspection team, picked up an initial discrepancy on material receipt – there were no cast or other markings on the bar as per our purchase order requirements, nor had a copy of the mill certificate been sent in advance for pre-approval of the material. The material was placed in quarantine.
- In accordance with procedures, they referred the matter to Zoe, our Certification Queen. Zoe contacted the supplier to seek verification of the material, and to ask if they would arrange collection of the material for marking up correctly.
- The supplier sent over the mill certificate, but Zoe then spotted that the specification on the certificate did not match what we had ordered. Although the supplier said that this was a mill error, Zoe was by then suspicious and again asked the supplier to verify that the material they had sent was the correct material as ordered.
- After a second review, the supplier confirmed that they had made an error and had supplied a different grade entirely (material grade CC483K – a PB2 tin bronze).
- The order (including a second line in addition to the above) was cancelled, the supplier’s record annotated on our AVL system (including their apology and reassurance this would never happen again), and the material returned.
All in all, our procedures worked, our questioning of the supplier was thorough, and the end result was a robust test of our systems. I am sure the supplier made an honest mistake (something to do with old, misidentified stock) and for that reason, I do not want to embarrass them – but thanks to their mistake it is time now to get some well overdue sleep!