in Vol. 8 - November Issue - Year 2007
Maintaining Momentum after Nadcap Accreditation
The author: Paul Huyton is a Nadcap Auditor and co-authored the book "Shot Peening"
So, you have closed-out the non-conformances from your initial audit, received the AC7117 (Surface Enhancement) certificate and have it hanging on the wall. You can be pleased with this achievement; Nadcap accreditation is the true benchmark of quality in special processes. Receiving this award is an endorsement of all those responsible: the Quality staff who devised the procedures, the Production personnel who carry the procedures out and the Management who have shown commitment to the programme in providing the resources to make it all happen. But what happens now? Anyone who has implemented quality systems will know that qualifying for the certificate is not an end to the process; it is the start of living-up to the standards you have set.
Vigilance is required to ensure that performance does not fall below the standard required in the Audit Criteria. Maintaining the momentum that carried the organization through to accreditation is essential if a poor re-accreditation audit is to be avoided. If the Nadcap certificate is treated as a badge of convenience to access customers and obtain orders, then the spirit of excellence and pride can be lost. Continuous awareness and effort are needed to keep the Quality System adequate and the workforce compliant to it. This effort must start with the leadership displayed by top management of the organization and flow down to all levels.
Monitoring and review of the Quality System are essential activities to ensure that procedures are adequate and conform to customer and Nadcap requirements. Any Nadcap supplier should put great importance on how they monitor and review not just production output but also the quality system itself. Questions should be asked like: “Does the system prevent non-conformance instead of just identifying non-conformance? Is flow-down of customer requirements well-planned and effective? Do the procedures and documentation reflect the form and requirements of the audit checklist?”
And compliance of personnel to the procedures can be maintained by training, guidance and inspiration. Celebrating the achievement of quality targets and recognition of individual efforts to enhance procedures are useful man-management tools in the struggle against complacency. The Nadcap audit method has a strong focus on workplace compliance by undertaking rigorous job audits, so production staff have to be involved and motivated. Process teams can be given “ownership” of their process and responsibility for compliance to the audit criteria. Giving the team authority for internal audit and corrective actions can be a great motivator if they are given guidance and support by a trained and experienced quality professional.
Nadcap recognizes that initial and re-accreditation audits have slightly differing functions and that continuous improvement has to be encouraged in the supplier base. In quality control, if you are not moving forwards you are probably going backwards. So the criteria set to pass can be different depending on whether the audit is an initial or a re-accreditation. For Surface Enhancement (shot peening), an initial audit may be sent for a failure ballot if there are greater than thirteen total NCRs (non-conformance reports) and/or greater than four Major NCRs. For a re-accreditation audit the criteria are greater than seven total NCRs and/or greater than two Major NCRs. If there is a two-thirds majority of the Task Group ballot for audit failure, the audit process is stopped and the supplier’s accreditation is suspended and has to be re-applied for. Other reasons for failure ballot are severity of findings, lack of supplier responsiveness and too many cycles to close NCRs. Greater details of this process can be found in Nadcap Operating Procedure (NOP) 011, revised 26 October 2006.
So there is an incentive to maintain and improve the quality control system after the initial accreditation. The initial audit is only a “snap-shot” of the quality system at that time and although the checklist is very thorough, it cannot be a comprehensive guarantee that the entire system is adequate & compliant. A supplier must always use internal audit and internal reporting procedures to probe the system and eradicate non-conformances. Management review then provides opportunities for system improvement and training needs. There is no doubt that there are fewer problems maintaining an accredited system when all individuals in the organization are competent and confident through the training they have received.
I hope that I have not made re-accreditation sound too daunting. Whilst it does identify weaknesses in an organization it is achieved in the majority of cases. And every supplier in the Nadcap programme has access to a rich source of relevant information and frequent training opportunities at www.pri-network.com
Author: Paul Huyton