Nearly 750 Nadcap heat-treating audits were conducted last year, a testimony that the industry has embraced Nadcap.

Fig. 1. Comparison of Nadcap and general quality audits

As the workforce becomes younger and more globalized, aerospace prime contractors have recognized that it is not enough to gain Nadcap accreditation. The industry should also provide resources to support the preparation for, and outcome of, Nadcap audits. After all, these audits are more involved than a typical general quality audit (Fig. 1).

The support offered within the supply chain has been exemplary. Through the Nadcap Supplier Support Committee, a mentoring program has been established. Supplier representatives who have been involved with Nadcap for some time volunteer to assist organizations with less experience. Their goal is clear: the mentors do not provide technical direction nor do they assist in resolving nonconformances. What they do is ensure that their new colleagues understand the procedural parameters of the Nadcap program so that they can meet the expectations of the industry.

Mentoring

David Jones, senior quality manager at Nex-Tech Processing in Wichita, Kan., is now a member of the Supplier Support Committee Leadership Team, but he remembers his mentoring experience as a positive one. “As a new supplier to the Nadcap program, achieving accreditation seems a difficult and daunting prospect, especially because it is a customer requirement. That’s added pressure! Finding out that there were other suppliers out there willing to support me in my journey was a relief – you don’t always feel comfortable to go to your customer and ask questions. With the help of my mentor and the hard work of my colleagues, I was able to guide my company to accreditation successfully. My mentor and I are now good friends and meet up regularly at Nadcap meetings.”

Training

In addition to the generosity of supplier volunteers, the industry has proactively developed training to continually improve the performance of the supply chain. A series of eQuaLearn “Introduction to Nadcap Special Process” classes has been developed with input from major aerospace-industry players such as Alcoa and Goodrich Corporation.

Kevin Ward, corporate director of Nadcap Special Processes at Goodrich Corp. explained, “We determined that there was a need to capture special-process knowledge and share it for the benefit of the industry. It is the most economical way for Goodrich to train a global workforce consistently in order to benchmark ourselves. Ultimately, increasing the knowledge and skills of our staff and suppliers contributes to making the end product better.”

The “Introduction to Nadcap Special Process” classes are designed to provide additional support to companies or new recruits who need to improve their understanding of the Nadcap program. “Introduction to Nadcap Heat Treating” is one of the special-process classes, and it contains valuable insight into the accreditation process. It doesn’t go into detail on AMS 2750D because there is a two-day eQuaLearn training just on Pyrometry.

Fig. 2. The following question is answered: If your company has been accredited for one year or more and your company measures quality trends, have you seen improvement in this related to your Nadcap accreditation(s)?

Job Audits

Job audits are a key part of the Nadcap audit. A job audit is a step-by-step review of all processing on actual hardware, evaluating how the supplier meets all customer requirements. For companies with multiple customers, a more robust system is needed. The heat-treating job audits cover:
  • Material / Material Specification / Heat Treating Specification
  • Atmosphere / Racking / Thermal Treating / Quench / Temper / Load Thermocouple / Special Treatments / Stress Relieve / Testing
  • Requirement / Shop Paper / Actual
  • Operator Control & Acceptance
  • Release Testing
During a Nadcap heat-treating audit, the auditor must witness 10 job audits – two long jobs and eight short jobs. These are selected by the auditor and are chosen to maximize the sampling of types of product, treatment, customers, furnaces and different shifts. Preference is given to more critical treatments such as quenching and brazing over areas like stress relieving and annealing.

During the long jobs, the auditor must observe all stages of heat treating and the final testing. These may be historic jobs. For the short jobs, the auditor normally observes in-progress jobs. The auditor must see either loading or unloading, although only one stage of treatment is included, and the testing may not be completed during the audit. In all cases, the Nadcap heat-treating auditor wants to know:

What did the customer ask you to do?
This means checking the part drawings, part listings, materials and process specifications, and general specifications.

What did you tell the operators to do?
This means checking the job instructions, data cards and local procedures.

What did they actually do?
This means checking the furnace log books, chart records and job travellers.

Was it right?
This means checking the test and nonconforming-material records.

If not, what did you do about it?
This means checking the quarantine and materials review-board records.

These efforts to educate the supply chain over the years have not gone unrecognized. This is demonstrated by the results of the Nadcap Global Supplier Survey, which is conducted every two years. In 2009, it showed that 83% of the supplier respondents who have been accredited for one year or more and who measure quality trends have seen an improvement in this related to their Nadcap accreditation (Fig. 2). IH

For more information: Visit www.pri-network.org or contact Joanna Leigh at joanna.leigh@pri-europe.org.uk. The author, Arshad Hafeez, is executive director, Global Business Operations and Corporate Strategies, Research & Development at the Performance Review Institute (PRI), which is used by over 50 prime contractor and government agencies worldwide to manage over 2,000 accredited suppliers.

Top Five Recommendations for Nadcap Audit Success

ONE
Make all internal parties aware of the impending audit, i.e. calibration, quality, document control, etc., and ensure that key personnel (management representative, quality manager, calibration technician, etc.) are available during the audit. Assign knowledgeable escorts to the Nadcap auditor – they should stay with the auditor at all times.

TWO
Conduct a comprehensive internal audit using the Nadcap checklists. Be demanding: it will make things easier later. Your goal should be to identify – and implement actions to correct the root cause of – all nonconformances yourself before the Nadcap audit.

THREE
Verify that you will have a sufficient number of parts/product/components available for demonstration of proficiency.

FOUR
Provide the required resources for the audit, such as Internet connection, copier, scanner, office personnel, etc. In addition, prior to the audit collect and review (for compliance) copies of the objective evidence (e.g., calibration certificates, quality procedures, records, logs, sample job traveler, etc.) that the auditor will need to see.

FIVE
Advise your internal and external customers of the impending Nadcap audit. Also inform them of the outcome of the audit as soon as you can. They have a vested interest in your success as a Nadcap-accredited supplier.