First Article Inspection, A Quick Guide.

First Article Inspection (FAI), definition and why it matters?

First article inspection is defined as a formal inspection of a unit in any mass-production process. It does not necessarily have to be the first product off the line. Any product from the first run-through is available to be a part of a first article inspection. Depending on your process, an FAI could be done completely separate or it could be included in your Inspection Test Report paperwork.

How do you do a First Article Inspection?

A common guideline is to select 3 random products from the first run-through for your FAI.

In the manufacturing industry, there are many standards that must be met. Inspections also take place during production to maintain the integrity of the machines and the quality of products.

First Article Inspection Selection Process

For a product to qualify as a first article during the inspection, it must be:

  1. Manufactured using the same materials and processes as planned for the mass-produced units.
  2. It is built using the same tools and equipment.
  3. It also should be manufactured by the same factory staff that will be present during the actual process.

These 3 randomly selected products are then evaluated. Tested by comparing the measurement of the final product against the original design specifications.

If the process and materials used meet the production requirements of the product. Your factory should be able to reliably mass-produce the desired good to the proper standard.

First article inspections are extremely useful for industries that are heavily regulated. These businesses often benefit from having a proactive inspection process catching mistakes before they happen. 

First article inspection uses products from the first production cycle.

First Article Inspections often consist of:

  • Ensuring the product follows the exact design requirements. Confirming that all dimensions and aspects of the product match the approved design drawings.
  • Verifying tools are calibrated properly. Identifying any vulnerable points throughout the production before it begins.
  • Checking the final product’s construction, function and safety.
  • FAI’s should be repeated if there is any change in the design or intended function of the product.

Approving samples in FAI

Before actual production begins, approving a sample can save money and time. Clarifying expectations before the actual process begins. While also assessing the ability of the suppliers to follow your input requirements.

It is common that a faulty final product is not the fault of the manufacturer but the supplier making a mistake on one of the input items.

First article inspections prove to be an advantage for manufacturers working with expensive materials or materials that are unable to be reworked/ fixed if there’s a mistake.

First Article Inspections (FAI) are Used to identify:

  • Use of uncalibrated tools or any subpar materials in the production.
  • Any operator misunderstanding of product quality specifications or measurements.
  • Any adjustments needed for machinery.
  • If there is any variation in workmanship (different operators providing different results).
FAI is important for production quality.

FAI and your Quality Assurance

Quality assurance issues are usually only revealed when mass production starts. This often ends in thousands of units being produced all with the same problem, none of which can be used or sold.

This shows why pre-production inspections and inspections of inputs are not always enough to catch problems.

Taking samples from a copy of the manufacturing process will reveal these problems.

The first run-through may produce products with issues that will then be caught, saving you from wasting all those supplies and paying operators to complete the wrong job.

Simplifying Quality Inspection.

Measure, monitor, and manage quality data throughout the production cycle or repair and overhaul process. We offer production workforce management and document management solutions.