Market Slowdown: Can We Postpone Our API Q1 Surveillance Audit?

QUESTION: 
From: Fayyez, Sept. 11, 2018
Dear Sir,
We are a certified API Q1 & ISO 9001 API QR registered organization.  Our surveillance audits are scheduled to be conducted on an annual basis.  We have maintained all quality management system requirements very well with all records available. But due to the present market slowdown, we might not have any production or manufacturing activities in progress during the time of the surveillance audit.  Is it possible for us to postpone the surveillance audit for a period of 3-4 months?  What are the possible consequences if a surveillance audit cannot be conducted due to the unavailability of production orders? Can the API suspend our certifications.  If so, what are the consequences of a suspension and how can our API Q1 and ISO 9001 certifications be restored?

RESPONSE:
To: ATCS Qblog, Ask the Experts, Sept. 11, 2018
Thanks for submitting this question. In response to your inquiry about postponing an API Q1 or ISO 9001 surveillance audit, it’s important to know that even though there currently are no ongoing production or manufacturing activities, the Registrar may still want to audit other QMS processes, documents, and records for products already shipped/delivered. The audit objective may be to evaluate your company’s continued conformance with certification, customer and in-house QMS requirements. Consider discussing this situation with the API at your first opportunity.

Also keep in mind that unlike an ISO 9001 recertification audit, which must be conducted at least every three years, the frequency for conducting surveillance audits is the Registrar’s decision. Surveillance audits are typically performed every 12 months. However, they may be conducted more or less frequent as determined by the Registrar based upon the maturity of the QMS, results of past audits or other identified concerns. Another significant point, to remember is that API Q1 is a proprietary QMS standard owned by the API.

For this reason, the API has the latitude to extend the usual 3-year recertification period if deemed necessary. Regarding the last part of your question about the suspension of certification, in the event of suspension of API Q1 certification, a full system certification audit may be performed to verify any previously identified nonconformances have been corrected and closed as well as to verify that the organization’s QMS meets API Q1 or ISO 9001 certification requirements.

The suspension of QMS certification is usually the result of an organization’s nonconformance with certification requirements. In some situations, an organization may choose to withdrawal from the API Q1 certification program. Withdrawal should be a last resort option because of the associated expense and time required to reestablish API Q1 certification status.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Bill Aston, Managing Director
Aston Technical Consulting Services

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