13 Aug, 2015 / BY Neil Sharp

Quality standards and accreditations within electronics manufacturing

Badges are funny things aren’t they? As children, we learn early on that badges are awarded for all sorts of things - swimming lengths in a pool; tying complicated knots; and joining new clubs.

We associate badges with hard work, reward, recognition and a sense of belonging. Often, we are keen to show off our new badges to our friends by proudly sewing them on our towels, displaying them in our windows or pinning them to our clothes.

As we progress into the business world these badges, quality standards or accreditations start to take pride of place on our company websites and marketing materials.

A large number are available across all sectors and the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry is certainly no exception. Some are more important than others and some are very specific to a particular market. Whoever has the most badges must be the best supplier, right? Well, a lot depends on what you mean by the best. 

In this blog post we will list some of the more common quality standards and accreditations you are likely to come across on the websites of those responsible for electronics manufacturing and supply chain activity.

ISO 9001

This internationally recognised standard for quality management systems (QMS) covers a broad range of business functions and helps provide peace of mind that the organisation has audited processes covering areas such as contract review, process improvement, traceability, customer satisfaction and complaints procedure, risk management and on-going training, among other things.

ISO 14001

Part of the ISO 14000 family, these standards provide a framework to address a number of environmental management issues, such as carbon footprint and impact reduction, the prevention of pollution, corporate social responsibility and sustainability etc. 

ISO 13485

Specifically developed to cover the manufacture of medical devices, ISO 13485 is based on the ISO 9001 process model approach. The main objective of the standard is to bring a level of consistency to medical device regulatory requirements and it focuses on areas such as quality control, legal compliance, traceability and process improvement.

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ISO 29001

Similar to the above, its foundations are based on ISO 9001, with this standard defining the QMS requirements for the design, development, manufacture, installation and servicing of products supplied into the petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas sectors. 

ISO/TS 16949

Originally developed by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), this technical specification, used in conjunction with ISO 9001, was introduced to help define common processes and procedures for organisations designing, manufacturing and servicing products supplied into the automotive industry.

ISO 27001

Sensitive data relating to your staff, clients and suppliers can be a company’s largest asset and this standard focusses on information security management. It provides a framework to help reduce the risk of IT and data security threats, such as cybercrime, viral attacks, fire or damage and personal data breaches.

AS 9100

Incorporating ISO 9001, this industry recognised standard includes additional requirements for those designing and manufacturing products for the aerospace industry, whether they are component parts, assemblies or full system builds.

AS 9110

This standard is based on AS 9100 - however, it includes additional requirements that are critical for the maintenance of commercial, private, and military aircraft. 

AS 9120

AS9120 is aimed at stockists/distributors and focusses on areas such as component traceability, stock control and availability of records for those organisations supplying into the aerospace industry.

AS 5553

Aimed at manufacturers and OEMs producing sub-assemblies or finished products, this standard introduces uniform processes and procedures to help mitigate the risk of suspect, fraudulent or counterfeit parts from entering the aerospace supply chain.  

AS 6081

Aimed at distributors selling electronic components, this standard introduces uniform processes and procedures to help mitigate the risk of suspect, fraudulent or counterfeit parts from entering the aerospace supply chain. 

TL 9000

Originally developed by the QuEST Forum back in 1988, TL 9000, used in conjunction with ISO 9001, was introduced to help define common processes and procedures for organisations designing, manufacturing and servicing products supplied into the information and communications technologies industry.


This standard is widely used throughout the EMS industry and provides guidance on the inspection standards and acceptance criteria for both consumer and high reliability printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs).


Focussing on process control, this standard outlines the materials, methods and inspection criteria required to produce quality solder joints, using both leaded and lead-free processes for electrical and electronic assemblies. 


This change programme was originally introduced back in 2006 by the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) at the Farnborough Airshow, with the view of accelerating the competitiveness of the aerospace and defence industry by raising the performance of its supply base. Supported by ADS (Aerospace Defence Security), supplier performance is awarded to Bronze, Silver or Gold levels, depending on the scores achieved in areas such as quality and delivery, as well as manufacturing and business excellence.

It’s probably worth mentioning here that some certificates - for example membership to ADS - can be purchased. For a relatively small amount of money (fees start at just £851 per year) a company trading in the UK supplying into the aerospace, defence or security sectors can become a member and then issued a certificate. As of January 2015 there were just over 900 ADS members listed on the directory, with approximately 100 of them having a valid SC21 award. It’s worth double checking that any certificates or standards listed on websites fully match your requirements, the dates on them have not expired and that historic awards are still relevant or remain valid.   

This list is by no means exhaustive and there are a number of other directives and approvals (ATEX, REACH, RoHS, UL etc) that also play a part within electronics manufacturing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to finding the best "fit" there is little in the way of badges out there. You must feel comfortable that your business is in safe pair of hands. Through your own research, supplier questionnaires and on-site visits you must have confidence that any assembly partner you decide to work with can demonstrate that they have the necessary skills, equipment, experience, processes and procedures in place, to deliver the quality, consistency and delivery performance levels that are likely to be key elements of your overall outsourcing objective.

Image by Drew McLellan

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Written by Neil Sharp

Neil has over 25 years’ experience in Electronics Manufacturing Services and Component Distribution. During his career, Neil has held a range of leadership positions in sales, marketing, and customer service. Neil is currently part of the ESCATEC Senior Management Team and is responsible for setting and delivering the overall Group Marketing strategy. Neil heads up the marketing department and is responsible for both the strategy and the implementation of innovative marketing campaigns designed to deliver high quality content to those seeking outsourcing solutions.