At 80, Dr. Andrew Perry has recently renewed his auditor certifications to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 13485:2016, and AS9100D. He’s been conducting audits for almost 60 years. Although now semi-retired, he still conducts 10–15 audits per year and plans to continue working from his Southern California home as long as he can.
Perry started performing audits in 1960 for the Inspector of Naval Material at Westinghouse Baltimore-Washington Friendship Airport Division, which later became part of Defense Contract Administration Services.
In the mid 1960s, he joined the Hughes Aircraft Co. in El Segundo, California, as a project quality assurance engineer on the Surveyor project, the first spaceship that went to the moon and gathered soil samples for analysis.
From there, he moved to the Apollo program where he helped audit all phases of design and production of the Apollo instruments. These audits consisted mainly of basic assessments without checklists to discover problems in design and manufacturing and create corrective actions.
After working with the Apollo program in Minneapolis, Perry moved to Los Angeles, where he worked on various space projects for Hughes Aircraft. He later moved to Hughes’ Santa Barbara Research Center, where he audited suppliers to the former aerospace standard checklist NPC 200 1, 2, and 3.
In 1976, Perry began his career in the nuclear field working on reactor electric penetration assemblies for Bunker Ramo Amphenol. Here, Perry reflects on his long career in the auditing profession.
What was the profession like when you performed your first audits? When I performed my first audits, companies worldwide were trying to implement various concepts of the Fathers of Quality: W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points of TQM, Joseph M. Juran’s Quality Control Handbook, Armand V. Feigenbaum’s Total Quality Control book, Philip B. Crosby’s book Quality Is Free and his zero defects program (which we tried to implement on the Surveyor Project), and Professor Kaoru Ishikawa’s handbook, What Is Total Quality Control? defining quality circles.
What were you looking for? Audits were mainly product audits and inspection/test system audits, looking for production controls, product conformance through inspections, and tests.
How did you present the audit report? Audit reports were usually issued to affected managers and professional personnel in the form of memos, detailing findings observed in quality control and each of the production departments visited. Sometimes I added photos to the report.
How have you seen auditing change over the years? I’ve seen notable changes, from the simple self-made audits described above, to audits performed by superbly trained auditors in accordance with applicable standards and ISO 19011:2011.
How often are you performing audits now? Now, being semi-retired, I can afford to pick and choose what audits I perform, based on my interest in the company and product line, as well as how I relate to their management.
Do you plan to retire at any point? I plan to continue as long as I can, sharing with as many as possible the practical applications I have learned in my 60 years of industrial experience.
What advice would you give new auditors? Start out with training to your applicable ISO/AS/TS standard and ISO 19011:2011, conducted by a registrar, certification body, or other internationally recognized entity. Keep current with applicable courses and ASQ meetings, qualify as an Exemplar Global Lead Auditor, and try to become a coach in your company.
Is there a standard you believe could be improved? All the current standards are excellent and are constantly being reviewed by experts worldwide.