Quality auditing is an integral part of APA's mission. APA has a staff of experienced auditors, and additional work is carried out at its research center in Tacoma, Washington. APA auditors make unannounced visits to client mills to verify compliance with defined technical criteria for certified manufacturers.
APA Quality Management System
Traditional approaches to structural wood products quality assurance have centered on testing and inspection of the finished product for such critical attributes as bending strength and stiffness, dimensional stability, bond durability, impact resistance, etc. Test results are compared with established minimum performance criteria as set forth in performance standards or product specifications. Today's mills, however, are high-speed, high-volume marvels compared to those of just a few years ago. The manufacturing innovations going into existing and new mills, together with widening raw material variations and the diversity of manufacturing "recipes", are placing new demands on quality control methods.
The QMS Approach
Under a program called APA QMS (Quality Management System), APA and its client mills have implemented an updated method of third-party certification. The APA QMS places emphasis on mill quality control programs rather than relying on testing and inspection of the finished product. This approach, which was developed in conjunction with APA clients and is based on ISO 9000, has been applied with considerable success in other industries, including the automotive, steel and consumer electronics fields.
Benefits of QMS
There are compelling benefits associated with the QMS approach. It provides clients greater flexibility in designing and conducting a quality assurance program tailored to specific needs, including opportunities for incorporating proprietary quality initiatives. It offers the potential to lower the cost of the quality function itself; and, most importantly, it provides a more effective means to assure that the product in the marketplace performs to consumer expectations.