in Vol. 7 - November Issue - Year 2006
Preparing a Nadcap Audit
The author: Paul Huyton is a Nadcap Auditor and co-authored the book "Shot Peening"
As anyone in the finishing industry knows, preparation is the key to success; and this is certainly true for a successful Nadcap audit. But, what is a “successful” audit? Can it be measured by the least number of non-conformance reports (NCRs) raised during the audit visit? This is the obvious and simple answer but let us consider the full audit process:
• The preparation for the audit by the supplier
• The fact-finding visit by the auditor
• The close-out of NCRs between the supplier and
the relevant task group.
The supplier preparation should identify a number of deficiencies which can be rectified before the auditor’s visit; this in itself is a system review and improvement. The auditor then provides a “fresh pair of eyes” to see other items that the supplier has missed. Non-conformities can be over-looked by the supplier due to familiarity with the existing procedures or a gap in their technical knowledge. The auditor will raise these as a non-conformance report which the supplier must close-out with the relevant PRI staff engineer and Nadcap task group. This final process must address the root cause of the non-conformance and apply the root cause corrective action (RCCA). This will correct the non-conformance and prevent other possible deficiencies arising from the same root cause. At the end of these three stages the supplier will have a more robust system that will give confidence to their customers, provide process efficiency and repeatability, and reduce the supplier’s risk of liability due to non-conformances. Achieving these system improvements is the true success of the audit process and this success is built around the preparation undertaken by the supplier.
Firstly, the supplier should ensure that there is a thorough understanding of and commitment to the audit process by all the staff involved. Senior management should be aware of the overall requirements of the programme and be prepared to commit resources to it. There should also be a commitment to allowing the auditor full access to all information relevant to the process. Mutual trust and respect are important factors in the Nadcap programme and this is a factor when selecting suitable auditors; in addition to their professional reputation auditors have a contractual obligation to maintain supplier confidentiality. Concealment of information and confrontational attitudes will be to the detriment of the supplier / auditor relationship and will reduce the value of the audit process. The only restrictions should be when the supplier processes US military parts which are subject to the ITAR regulations. Auditors who do not have ITAR clearance are not permitted access to parts or drawing that are ITAR restricted.
It is important that the machine operators understand that it is the system that is under scrutiny; their personal capabilities are observed only as a reflection of the efficacy of the training programme and operational procedures. Also, support staff such as “goods-inwards” and laboratory technicians should be available if they are involved with inspections and record keeping for shot peening.
The supplier must undertake an internal audit prior to the audit using the checklist AC7117; this can be down-loaded from the Public Documents section of eAuditnet.com. Also, from the same section, the SE Auditor’s Handbook can be down-loaded. This handbook is used by the auditor and it contains useful guidance on the requirements of various specifications.
It is vital for the supplier to understand that in mandating conformance to Nadcap the prime manufacturers have also mandated conformance to the relevant Nadcap checklist. Many prime specifications contain the “bare bones” of their requirements on the understanding that the supplier will operate to a good industry standard. Now, the checklist defines the good industry standard to which the supplier must conform. Saying “it isn’t in my customer specification” is out-dated thinking; if a requirement is in the checklist the supplier must comply with it unless their customer specification says otherwise.
Whilst undertaking the internal audit it is helpful to collate the evidence that validates conformance. A great deal of time can be saved during the audit if the supplier compiles a folder with copies of recent certificates of conformity for Almen strips, shot, Almen gauge calibration, Almen fixture checks etc.
The supplier should plan the production programme so that there will be relevant jobs to audit. Job audits are at the heart of the process and so if these jobs are not available the audit may be cancelled at the supplier’s expense. The number of job audits depends upon the scope of the supplier’s capability: At least one job audit is performed for each of the selected disciplines, and two job audits are performed for either computer controlled or automated process, if applicable. Wherever possible, the jobs should be to the specifications of Nadcap subscribing prime manufacturers.
Author: Paul Huyton