Customer Focused Quality Assurance & Quality Control – Part 1

Lorena Grol, Vice President of Quality Assurance
Mike Fitzgerald, Principal Quality Systems Engineer

In the first part of our two-part quality series, we’ll describe our quality process from design through manufacturing and assembly.


Quality and product consistency are critical for a company that manufactures customer crucial components. Wilcox Industries views Quality Assurance (QA) as a vital part of how we do business, and essential to meeting our customers’ requirements and enhancing their operational success.

Wilcox is an ISO 9001:2015 certified facility. Through the years we have used this standard to keep us focused to ensure that we deliver a reliable product to our customers. At Wilcox, quality is built into all our manufacturing processes, starting with our design, integrated throughout our manufacturing and assembly processes, and checked thoroughly, before delivery.

Our quality process and evaluation do not end with the delivery of our product. Determining customer satisfaction is a key metric when reviewing our design process, combined with our continuous improvement efforts which feed essential information to our design team.


Wilcox specializes in Night Vision Mounting Systems, Combat Systems for small arms and Life Support Systems. Wilcox designs all these products using a “Stage-Gate” system.  During the design process, a “stage” is established to ensure specific criteria is established for each design and is verified during our formal “gate” review. Our Quality Assurance team at Wilcox acts as the customer representative for these reviews and ensures that contract requirements are met throughout the entire design process.

Approved designs are translated into a technical data package (TDP) using a computer aided design (CAD) system and entered into the formal drawing system. At Wilcox, revision control is maintained through a formal Engineering Change Request (ECR) and Engineering Change Order (ECO) processes for all drawings. As the customers’ in-house representative, Quality Assurance is a required signatory in the ECR/ECO (drawing change) process to ensure changes remain consistent with the customers’ requirements.

Operations – Manufacturing

When a drawing is released for manufacturing, it is often first translated into a machine program. Nearly all machines at Wilcox are computerized numerical controlled (CNC) machines. This high degree of automation allows Wilcox to produce very light weight, detailed parts with a high degree of precision and repeatability.  Even so, QA always checks the first piece from each machine set up to ensure the details of tool selection and machine off-sets are correct and the parts meet the drawing requirements – a hard copy of which “travels” with the parts as they proceed through the manufacturing processes. 

The tools used to conduct this “first piece” include the use of a coordinate measuring machine (CMM).  These measurement tools are incredibly precise and are used to measure the parts to very tight tolerances with high accuracy. All of this is done to ensure the parts meet the drawings that were created by Wilcox and approved by the customer.

Parts received from vendors go through the same process as parts made in-house; with added checks made by our vendors. All vendors used by Wilcox go through a qualification process by QA and independent certifying bodies to produce the parts to our drawings.

Operations – Assembly

Piece parts from manufacturing and our vendors are assembled into a finished product through a cellular assembly system. These cells consist of a specific set of workstations.  The workstations are designed to ensure repeatability resulting in a consistently built product.

These actions are defined by a set of controlled work instructions located at each station. The work instructions themselves are presented at each workstation on an electronic tablet for easy access by our assembly team. Wilcox’s cellular configuration incorporates multiple quality stations where the products are checked to ensure it meets the drawing package requirements.

Additional information can be downloaded in our full Quality Capability Brief or by viewing our “Wilcox Capability Video: Quality & Testing” video.