Certain sectors have created specific requirements based on the development of their own standards and certifications that they later require their suppliers to meet. It is quite common that they take as a baseline the international standard ISO 9001, extending it and adapting it to their own requirements.
NATO member states have developed their own quality management standards for the defence sector, albeit harmonized by common requirements.
An example of this is the defence sector of the NATO member countries, in which there are specific quality management requirements. Each member country develops its own standard, all of them intended to respond to the same requirements imposed by the organization.
Let’s use the case of the Spanish Ministry of Defence as an example. Among other functions, the Directorate-General of Weapons and Materials (Dirección General de Armamento y Material, or DGAM) acts as a technical body for the quality assurance of weapons and defence materials, and has developed the PECAL Standard (Publicación Española de Calidad, or Spanish Quality Publication). The requirements of the PECAL standard are a combination of the ISO 9001 requirements and NATO’s specific requirements for the quality management of defence suppliers.
These requirements vary depending on the activity of the supplier, therefore there are different PECAL standards, such as:
- PECAL 2110 (Edition 4) “NATO requirements for quality assurance for design, development and production.”
- PECAL 2131 “NATO requirements for quality assurance for final inspection”
- PECAL 2105 “NATO requirements for deliverable quality plans”.
- PECAL 2210 “NATO requirements for the quality of software, supplementary to PECAL 2110 and PECAL 2310”
- PECAL 2310 “NATO requirements for quality management systems in aviation, space and defence suppliers”.
To summarise, the steps required for a supplier to obtain the appropriate PECAL Certification are:
- Formal request for PECAL audit certification by the organisation that wishes to be certified, which in PECAL terminology is called an IAMD (Weapons and Defence Material Industry), made to the Directorate-General of Weapons and Materials (DGAM).
- The DGAM sends the IAMD some questionnaires to be filled out prior to the audit and requests the minimum documentation that must be in place to start the process. After the analysis of this documentation, it decides whether the applicant is ready to begin the audit process.
- In the event that the previous phase is affirmative, the audit process is carried out “in situ” by staff designated by the DGAM itself in the facilities of the IAMD. Nonconformities may arise during this process, which must be resolved by the IAMD. The audit team then confirms certification once they are resolved.
- If this phase is passed, the certificate is issued.
To renew the certificate, the IAMD must submit a new request prior to its expiry date and the process is repeated, this time planning the audit with an accredited certification entity.
The remaining NATO member countries have drawn up a similar process to meet the standards, although in each case adapting its content to the specificities of each state.