Configuration Management is the control of parts, oftentimes consisting of a complex set of subassemblies, of which, when combined take a final form that is different from the individual parts. As a result, controlling the revisions of this final product entails controlling the revisions and status of each component to ensure that the final form meets the requirements. AS9100 requirements for configuration management is well understood by major suppliers, but can present overkill to small downstream suppliers, luckily though these requirements can be easily met no matter how big or small your organization. AS9100 Rev D, Clause 8 – Operation addresses configuration management. Section 8.1.2 states that the organization must plan, implement, and control a process for configuration management as necessary to assure the identification and control of attributes throughout the product lifecycle. The process must:
- control product identity and traceability to requirements
- guarantee that the documented information is consistent with the actual attributes of the products and services
Configuration Management and AS9100D also direct you to these standards for guidance:
- ISO 10007 Quality Management Guidelines for Configuration Management
- MIL-HDBK-61A Configuration Management Guidance
- EIA-649-A National Consensus Standard for Configuration Management
- ECSS-M-ST-40 Space Project Management-Configuration Management
Configuration Management Basics
Configuration management is defined by ISO 10007 asking organizations to manage the components of a product. Breaking this down, configuration management consists mostly of two components – document control and product identification.
Configuration Management is necessary when products are comprised of multiple parts (component parts) that come together to form a final product (master part).
When working with these assemblies the master part must be identified with a part number and revision level, and a list of the components. The component parts must also be identified by part number and revision level.
Configuration Management Process
The first step is identifying the configuration items. This requires determining which products are subject to configuration management – the products which are comprised of subassemblies. Configuration items may include tooling and fixtures as well. Determining configuration items is similar to determining the scope – you must determine which products are subject to configuration management and which are not.
The next step in configuration management is managing configuration identification. This means consistently ensuring that products are properly identified with their current part and revision number but that all sub-components are also identified with their current part and revision numbers.
The third step is known as configuration change control. The goal of this step is to ensure that the known configuration identification is maintained when the part’s design is changed. This change can be from top down or bottom up. Meaning a change to the master part which may impact one or more of the components or a change in one of the components which changes the master part.
The IAQG has put together some helpful material in their SCMH:
Configuration management generally concentrates on technical and organizational activities that establish and maintain control of a product and its product configuration information throughout the life cycle of the product.
CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT OF DRAWINGS AND DOCUMENTS
- For customer supplied parts, you are required to use customer provided prints or documentation to ensure ongoing maintenance of the configuration. You cannot make changes to the customer’s configuration or configuration drawings. If processing a customer provided part requires deconstruction of the final part into sub-assemblies, this shall be done after instruction by the customer, and/or in accordance with customer provided documentation, to ensure that re-assembly results in the same final configuration.
- For all other parts, you must maintain the assembly revision status as provided for in the provided design documentation, drawings and/or data; do not make changes to these configurations or revision levels. Where assemblies are temporarily disassembled for processing (by you or a subcontractor), suitable labeling is performed to ensure proper re-assembly in accordance with the design documentation.
- Internal documents or drawings related to the product shall reference the exact drawing and revision of the appropriate part(s), assemblies, or subassemblies.
CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT OF PARTS
- During production, assembly, packaging or shipping, all parts must be properly identified as to the current configuration. This means the parts must be identified in a way that is traceable back to the proper drawing that reflects the exact configuration of the product in its current state (i.e., a master drawing that shows all revisions of subassemblies used in that part.)
- Identification may be made by way of labeling the part, marking the part, or physical association with paperwork (routers, drawings, etc.)