Seeking advice on how to handle a Special Process Nonconformance

J

Jason PCSwitches

#1
Here's the scoop:

A w/o was brought to my attention with a sequence entitled "Heat Treat" on it. Knowing we don't & can't do any form of heat treatment in-house I investigated. What I found is an auditors worst nightmare, only surpassed by the reaction from management.

To start, the oven they were planning to conduct the process in is not calibrated nor do we have the means to do any form of verification. After collecting evidence and visiting the Nadcap/PRI site (knowing what I would come-up against) I brought this to the attention of our engineering director (whom is also the quality director & management rep.(though I actually act as the MR-he just has the title)).

He told me he would instruct the engineer to change the header to "Stress-Relief" (I knew this was coming). I expressed that this would still not suffice on several levels. 1st - Stress-Relief is a form of heat treating & 2nd you do not have a method of control or verification. He vehemently argued that stress-relief is not heat treating, which I produced several documents showing it was in fact under the umbrella of heat treating. This was like a jet shooting over his head.

After more debate, and the standard we have always done this spiel, he concluded that I should let this go, to which I replied no, this is a major issue. I even showed a p/o in which a customer eludes that any special processing must be done by a Nadcap certified supplier. Not understanding the significance I further explained, hypothetically, what would happen if a major customer or CB audit discovered this (product recall, economic impacts, etc.) - mine as well been talking to the wall.

Results - he will calibrate the oven and that's it. Even though we could send the parts down the street, spend about $100, and get them back the next day having nothing to be concerned about - they are going to go ahead with the process and I was told to back off. Being that this is the MR (my boss) and going over his head will more than likely only result in problems for me, what do you suggest (besides leaving) I do to A. cover my a$$ & B. document this so I have records of an attempt to address this if it does in fact come up down the road.

Note: We are not a small organization & have been AS certified for some time
 
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Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#2
Re: Seeking advice on how to handle a Special Process N/C

What exactly are the customer requirements for this operation, other than a blank clause that any "special process" must be done in a Nadcap approved source? If you were to outsource this heat treat stress relief operation, you would need much more than simply state "stress relief" in the PO. What are/is the process specification? temperature/time profile? is the process validated? I suspect that you have to dig into the requirements coming from the customer to understand exactly what needs to be done.
 
Last edited:

optomist1

A Sea of Statistics
Super Moderator
#3
Re: Seeking advice on how to handle a Special Process N/C

Hi Jason,

I do not have any actionable advice; but I do have a company structure observation.

Although a small company, placing responsibilty for quality with the head of engineering etc, in my humble & slightly informed opinion invites such dilemmas.

How can he or she answer to two or three different masters; and at times divergent interests?

From my earliest Q.E. post graduation experiences, this was verbotten!!

Regards,
Marty

"Morals Are For Mere Humans; Not For Gods or Wall Street Wizards"
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
Here's the scoop:

A w/o was brought to my attention with a sequence entitled "Heat Treat" on it. Knowing we don't & can't do any form of heat treatment in-house I investigated. What I found is an auditors worst nightmare, only surpassed by the reaction from management.

To start, the oven they were planning to conduct the process in is not calibrated nor do we have the means to do any form of verification. After collecting evidence and visiting the Nadcap/PRI site (knowing what I would come-up against) I brought this to the attention of our engineering director (whom is also the quality director & management rep.(though I actually act as the MR-he just has the title)).

He told me he would instruct the engineer to change the header to "Stress-Relief" (I knew this was coming). I expressed that this would still not suffice on several levels. 1st - Stress-Relief is a form of heat treating & 2nd you do not have a method of control or verification. He vehemently argued that stress-relief is not heat treating, which I produced several documents showing it was in fact under the umbrella of heat treating. This was like a jet shooting over his head.

After more debate, and the standard we have always done this spiel, he concluded that I should let this go, to which I replied no, this is a major issue. I even showed a p/o in which a customer eludes that any special processing must be done by a Nadcap certified supplier. Not understanding the significance I further explained, hypothetically, what would happen if a major customer or CB audit discovered this (product recall, economic impacts, etc.) - mine as well been talking to the wall.

Results - he will calibrate the oven and that's it. Even though we could send the parts down the street, spend about $100, and get them back the next day having nothing to be concerned about - they are going to go ahead with the process and I was told to back off. Being that this is the MR (my boss) and going over his head will more than likely only result in problems for me, what do you suggest (besides leaving) I do to A. cover my a$$ & B. document this so I have records of an attempt to address this if it does in fact come up down the road.

Note: We are not a small organization & have been AS certified for some time
Your first mistake, imo, was in doing this verbally. These conversations should always take place via e-mail, so at the least you can document the fact that you brought the thing to your boss's attention. It can also be a good idea to copy other people who might be interested.

Sidney has given good advice insofar as understanding the requirements is concerned, but in any event you've done your part. You notified your boss, expressed concern, and he made the decision.

I don't know what the risks are in terms of the heat treating operation not being performed correctly. If the possibility exists that airplanes could fall out of the sky, your decisions at this point might be different than they would be if it's just the documentation you're concerned about.
 
J

Jason PCSwitches

#5
This particular customer does not have any specific requirements related to special processing, but that's not the point. Most of our customers (which are big ones) do though & these components also go into many other products we produce and can be considered critical components. The specifics (time/temp. etc.) are listed on the drawings, we do not falter in that area, it's the fact that the oven is not calibrated and cannot be controlled/verified. We have a hardness tester, but IMHO it doesn't matter at this point. If the p/o doesn't specify, I'm OK with it being done in-house as long as the process is controlled. If the p/o specifies otherwise, it must either be discussed prior to acceptance or sent out.

I always email, which I did 1st. However this person will not get around to it for a day or two, then he may not even approach for discussion. Additionally there was no time, I stopped the process as the tech was literally opening the oven. So, I went to him.
 
J

Jason PCSwitches

#7
OK, let me put this in more simple terms as I may not have explained it as such:

You've identified a major problem, management (M.R) will not properly address it, upper management more than likely will take the same angle, what do you do??

Though this is a real situation, I'm primarily interested in how others handle similar events. Everything is fairly laid out in my 2 previous posts if you need details.
 
J

Jason PCSwitches

#8
Sidney and Jim have good feedback. My main question is how will the process be validated?
This is my point (one of them at least), which not to seem rude, does not address my ??.

To save time, I've reviewed ALL the requirements, p/o, contract, process specs, drawings etc. Everything is good - except for the plan of execution.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#9
OK, let me put this in more simple terms as I may not have explained it as such:

You've identified a major problem, management (M.R) will not properly address it, upper management more than likely will take the same angle, what do you do??

Though this is a real situation, I'm primarily interested in how others handle similar events. Everything is fairly laid out in my 2 previous posts if you need details.
Not to split hairs and no disrespect intended, but you've characterized a problem as "major," which is a relative term. It doesn't seem to be major to your boss or his. Perhaps at some point in the future you'll be vindicated, but it seems it will take a bad occurrence to make that happen. If this is the first time that you've given someone wise counsel and been ignored or overruled, I promise you it won't be the last. You've done your job, in my view, which was to lead the horse to the water. Whether it drinks or not is not something you can control.
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Trusted Information Resource
#10
This is my point (one of them at least), which not to seem rude, does not address my ??.
No offense taken. I didn't know if that had already been addressed.

Steven Covey's Habit #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. "We often prescribe before making a proper diagnosis when communicating. We should first take the time to deeply understand the problems presented to us."
...what do you suggest (besides leaving) I do to A. cover my a$$ & B. document this so I have records of an attempt to address this if it does in fact come up down the road.
Given the question you're asking, my answer would be "all of the above."
 
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