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Supply Chain FAI

IPI’s Visual Supply Chain FAI (First Article Inspection) Solution – Visual SCF

Recognise any of these supply chain problems? Our knowledge is that they often suffer from some or all of the following problems:-

  • Contact information difficult to acquire and keep up-to-date
  • Information in emails being lost
  • FAI’s become stalled because a staff member is away or has left
  • Out-of-date documentation being used
  • No visibility of FAI status across the supply chain
  • No workflow to drive the process
  • Trouble finding historic FAI records

Our Software solution Visual SCF, has been designed with these problems in mind, and helps solve them. Here’s how:


“Contact information difficult to acquire and keep up-to-date”

The OEM only needs a single contact on the system for the supplier. Visual SCF allows a single supplier notification invite to be sent. From this one invite, the supplier can register & manage its own users. This simple function alone reduces the administrative burden on the OEM of maintaining an up-to-date contact list for the entire supply chain.


“Information in emails being lost”

Visual SCF offers the message / conversation thread to be kept in one system linked to the relevant FAI.

The emails exchanged during the progress of a FAI often contain important information, which can become inaccessible and lost in people’s Inbox and Deleted folders. Visual SCF has an easy-to-use and flexible messaging system, and all messages are sent via Visual SCF. This enables a complete message history to be permanently kept within each FAI record – ‘no information can be lost’.

Whenever a message is sent through Visual SCF, a notification email is sent to the relevant user aFAIsing that a message has been sent to them. The email contains a link – when the user clicks on the link they are taken directly to the message in the browser (via a password page) so it is very easy to keep all messaging within Visual SCF.


“FAI's become stalled because a staff member is away or has left”

Although messages are sent to specific users, messages are displayed on a ‘departmental message board’ in the portal. This means that all users within the same department can see and access all messages sent to any user in that department thus allowing other members of staff to handle messages for absent colleagues. The site administrator(s) will maintain the users list for the site (including removing users who have left), which will also help to eliminate this problem.


“Out-of-date documentation being used”

SCF gives all users (at the OEM, plants and supplier sites) online access to the same shared documentation. There is no need for documents to be sent via email, they are simply uploaded to the portal, which means that everyone has access to the most up-to-date version of every document.


“No visibility of FAI status across the supply chain”

Visual SCF is a web site, therefore all information is real-time.

If a user at a supplier changes the status of an element

  • The new status is immediately visible to all users who have access to that FAI.

If a supplier submits a FAI:

  • This is immediately visible to the OEM.

Because all messaging is done through Visual SCF it is easy for users to review the discussions that are on-going regarding each FAI.

The OEM’s FAI Browser allows instant drill-down into any FAI across the supply chain to see the individual element statuses and documentation, and to review the messages. The system even shows how many days each message has been waiting for a reply so nothing gets overlooked.


“No workflow to drive the process”

Visual SCF gives a real-time view of each FAI from the Top Level, down to each individual element level, and also features a simple but highly effective task assignment system. Individual elements can be assigned to specific users and reminder and escalation dates set (which trigger reminder emails to be sent). The message system also helps to drive the process, as the message waiting time is clearly displayed, allowing ‘stalled’ activities to be easily identified and remedied.


“Trouble finding historic FAI records”

Visual SCF is both an online web site and an offline data repository. FAIs that are in-progress are held on the SCF’s web server but as soon as the FAI is completed the FAI’s attached documents are downloaded into the offline data repository and removed from the web server. This keeps the amount of “data-at-rest” on the web server to a minimum, which is good for data security.

Users can still browse completed FAIs via the portal, but if they want to access an attached document they must press a ‘Request Document’ button. The request will appear on a dashboard at the OEM – the manager at the OEM can either grant or deny the request. If the request is granted then SCF will automatically upload the requested document to the portal where it will remain until either it has been downloaded or until the expiry date is reached, when it will be automatically removed from the web server.


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