Nadcap and Work Instructions
Nadcap and Work Instructions
Last year I started working for mid-size aerospace composite parts manufacturing company as a manufacturing engineer. In some form or another this company started out as a "garage" type business 30 years ago and is now grown to be one of United Technologies preferred suppliers for special processes when it comes to making composite parts for high temperature aerospace engine applications.
A few years back, the company organized itself and got their Nadcap accreditations for composites manufacturing. The guy leading the charge (from our Quality department) came on board around that time and brought with him many years of experience setting up quality management systems and (seemingly) knows what it takes to pass the recurring audits that take place to maintain our accreditation.
Our facility uses a number of separate workcells to perform the operations necessary to manufacture deliverable hardware from the material we receive. As such, we have a specific work instruction document dedicated to each operation. This means that each program could have a dozen instruction documents that are all individually revision controlled. The benefit of this, from an Engineering perspective, is if I need to update the instructions for part marking, I won’t need to mess with the instructions related to machining.
The template we use for all of our work instructions calls out not only the customer part number, but the revision letter. This information is then mirrored on a sort of program summary sheet/table that itemizes all of the work instructions, their revision letters, and then the customer documentation including revision levels. Each deliverable part number has a unique "cheat sheet" of sorts.
NOTE: this “cheat sheet” seems to be an important part of our accreditations and is revision controlled and referenced on our shop routings, which are also revision controlled.
Last month, per our request, our customer issued us a drawing revision to incorporate some dimensional tolerance changes that were previously permitted via a deviation. No change to form fit or function so they considered it a Class II change on their end.
Unfortunately, because of the way we have our documentation set up, this seemingly innocuous change required me to change every document related to this part. Effectively, it’s been considered a Class I block change that impacted all of my work instructions, and all of our entries in our ERP software (routings, bills of materials, and part number entries).
I’m told that this is all required for Nadcap. After pestering (I mean that in a good way) our Quality director to help me understand why, he showed me the AC7118 audit criteria. To him it’s in plain writing that we must show the customer revision letter on all of this documentation.
I’m not so sure that’s really true and believe that surely there must be a smarter way of doing this. Unfortunately I’ve only got a data point of one, as nearly everyone in my group (Engineering) and his group (Quality) either haven’t worked anywhere but this company, or have never dealt with Nadcap at prior companies.
My prior experience has been on the design side of aerospace engineering so this situation appears overly constrained for no value added. From my angle, it looks like we are treating each drawing revision as a unique part number and a change that normally would be Class II is getting incorporated like a Class I, which seems unnecessary. The counter argument I've heard is, "Well, the customer PO references the drawing revision so that means we have to change everything."
I’m posting here as I’d like to get more than one data point on this topic to see if I’m really delusional, or whether there are opportunities to make things better.
For those of you that work at Nadcap accredited manufacturing facilities, what does your situation look like?