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IPC Certification FAQ

Have a question about certification? Get the answers.

To help you learn more about IPC certification, we’ve provided anwers below to many of the most Frequently Asked Questions. If you don’t find your question or need additional information about one of the responses, connect with an IPC Expert at 847-597-2806 or ipcvalidation@ipc.org.

As the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, IPC (link to IPC Home) is the only trade association that brings together all of the industry players: OEMs, PCB manufacturers, electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies and their products suppliers. As a member-driven organization, IPC is the leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy for the global electronics industry.

IPC Certification was created to address a need identified by an industry survey: 75 percent of responding engineers and executive management from OEMs, EMS providers and suppliers viewed a supplier qualification program as vital to their business. IPC Certification provides suppliers the opportunity to become part of a network of trusted sources that industry will look to first and foremost when evaluating existing and potential business partners.

QPL (Qualified Products List) is used to both certify and qualify EMS suppliers’ products and the manufacturing sites where those products are produced. QML (Qualified Manufacturers List) is used to certify EMS and OEM providers’ assembly processes to IPC standards.

Typically, it is unlikely that both a QML and a QPL will be required for the same facility. Usually suppliers are not also PCBA manufacturers, and vice versa. It is possible to have both, but unlikely.

Since QPL both certifies the products and the process used to manufacturer them, it requires onsite audits for all process locations, or sites, where the products are manufactured. However, IPC will recognize internal test data for subsequent sites producing a previously qualified product with a valid QPL, provided the testing is performed by testing labs following IPC TM (Testing Methods), and have the minimum criteria for Lab Qualifications as defined by the QPL policy and procedures.

IPC Certification (QPL and QML) is valid for three years.

Yes, as part of the audit requirements, a review of the site’s current quality systems and certifications are incorporated into the IPC audit. As an example, a site with a valid ISO 9001 will reduce the IPC audit efforts.

Yes, a feedback process is provided. Each year, a series of key metrics are collected to gauge the effectiveness of the certification. Feedback from the industry about a specific certified provider will be directly addressed by the IPC team. Feedback from customers will be used to review certification.

Certification audits are conducted by IPC Auditors and IPC appointed personnel. IPC is the global electronics industry’s authoritative, objective source for quality conformance and data reporting.

Typically, the first steps of the IPC Certification process will take about a month. These steps include completing IPC documentation (NDA and Manufacturer’s Agreement). IPC will provide an audit checklist for a process performance assessment review or self-audit check of the facility. Once the first steps are completed, the on-site audit is scheduled. That process can take two to three days depending on several factors, such as existing certifications, size of the facility, and type of program selected. Testing, if required, will be at the duration of the specific standards’ testing methods (TM) as defined in the associated standard.

Many OEMs and EMS providers are specifying the same IPC Standards used in the QPL/QML policies and procedures, and they will likely start to include references and requirements to IPC Certification.

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