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Mike Garner

Managing Director at Garner Osborne Circuits Ltd

Achieving sky-high quality standards with AS9100

Recently, when we were audited for our AS9100 quality standard, something happened at Garner Osborne that made us realise what an outstanding team we have here.

It wasn’t a team building challenge. And it wasn’t winning the Investment in Training Award, from West Berkshire Training Consortium. It was bigger than that. And smaller too.

The AS9100 highlighted the consistent focus on quality applied by each of our team members, working together every day to deliver outstanding levels of expertise in our PCB design and manufacturing.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was.

You see, we cherry pick each team member for their skills and the traits that make good technicians. We look for attention to detail, resilience and determination in our team members.

But this isn’t just because we want to be the best in PCB fabrication. These personality traits are essential because with the clients we work with, such as the aeronautical industry, there’s no room for error.

When you have a global client list that includes aviation customers, each dependent on the reliability of every single component for the well-being and safety of hundreds of people, well that focuses the mind a little.

The average plane contains literally hundreds of printed circuit boards. They control everything from the on-board entertainment, comfort and oxygen levels to the flight controls and communications equipment. It’s essential that every component is robust and reliable. And that requires a team that is both highly skilled and diligent.

 

To ensure that our staff are highly trained, we invest continually. Our small team work closely together by virtue of our flat reporting structure to ensure effective communications throughout the PCB design and build process. Our staff in turn, enable us to offer a higher level of expertise in printed circuit board fabrication and builds which is why we are one of just a few PCB manufacturers in the UK able to offer AS9100 quality standard.

To achieve this stringent standard our staff have to go through an intense audit process that covers ever single aspect of ordering – from manufacture right through to shipment. It’s a two-stage process, the first, a paper based audit takes one day, and the second which looks intensely at the processes involved and how they are carried out, lasts an intense six days.

Usually in an audit of this nature, a PCB fabricator would expect to receive somewhere between 10 and 20 non-conformance reports. So long as the non-conformance issues are minor, they don’t affect the outcome of the product, or the award of the quality standard.

So, you can imagine our excitement when we received our list of non-conformance issues and saw just three lines typed in black font on white paper. 3 minor non-conformance issues. That is three issues that only slightly vary from best practice but make no difference to the resulting product. We had exceeded expectations achieved by the very best PCB fabricators.

The AS9100 is one of the most rigorous quality standards and, as such, is one of the most difficult to achieve. It allows for complete transparency of your processes, as any company can request a copy of your audit report. We’ve proudly held this standard since 2013 and see our outstanding results in our latest audit as testimony to the outstanding and committed team we have working for our customers here at Garner Osborne.