What is a First Article Inspection?
A First Article Inspection (FAI) is the process of verifying the design requirements of a product from the first production run. Quality inspectors perform FAIs when there is a 2-year lapse in production or when there are significant changes in the product, including design, manufacturing source/process, location of manufacture, tooling/materials, or computer-generated program that can affect its fit, form, or function.
Quality inspectors should document part number accountability, product accountability, and characteristic accountability in the FAI report. Streamlined first article inspections can reduce costly production delays by ensuring the manufacturing process produces output that meets design requirements.
This article will briefly discuss:
- how to effectively perform a first article inspection;
- a powerful inspection app for automated FAI reports; and
- free first article inspection forms you can download, customize, and use.
Click here to download Top 5 First Article Inspection Forms
How to Perform a First Article Inspection
First article inspections provide assurance of product conformance at the start of series production and after design changes. Here are the steps taken by quality inspectors when performing first article inspections:
1. Prepare the engineering design and specification requirements
Quality managers should regularly coordinate with design engineers and fabrication managers to ascertain that the as-built technical drawings (electrical, mechanical, pneumatic and process schemes) are followed. Before the first article inspection, prepare the instruments calibration certificates and refer to the equipment and materials data sheets to deliver high-quality machines with performance that clients can trust.
2. Determine the part or assembly to inspect
The “first article” to be inspected is neither the prototype model nor the first product from a production run. Quality inspectors should randomly select a representative item from the first production run and document part number accountability which includes the part number, part name, and manufacturing process reference.
3. Conduct raw materials, special processes, and functional testing
Quality inspectors measure and verify design characteristics through product-specific tests with required design tooling. For product accountability, each material and process used to manufacture the product is listed and certificates of conformance for special processes are added. Functional test procedures should also be cited with corresponding acceptance reports as supporting documents.
4. Evaluate characteristics accountability and compatibility
Inspection results can ascertain the necessity of a delta FAI or re-accomplishment of the first article inspection. In case of non-conforming characteristics, design revisions should be implemented. Quality inspectors should review the manufacturing process and non-conformance documentation to improve the performance of a delta FAI.
5. Report the first article inspection with proper documentation
Upon the completion of the first article inspection, quality inspectors validate the FAI report with their signatures, indicating that all characteristics are accounted for; meet drawing requirements; or are properly documented for disposition. FAI reports should include photos of the products make and packaging to provide objective evidence.
iAuditor First Article Inspection App
Quality inspectors can use iAuditor, the world’s most powerful inspection app, to streamline FAI documentation and reporting, standardize product quality, and prevent costly production delays. With iAuditor, you can:
- ✔ Perform inspections offline or online
- ✔ Capture photo evidence
- ✔ Assign actions for non-conformance
- ✔ Gather digital signatures
- ✔ Automatically generate FAI reports
- ✔ Get unlimited online data storage
To help you get started, here are 5 of the best first article inspection forms you can download and customize for free.