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Should I Intervene?

Should I Intervene?

Should I Intervene?

(OP)
Hello All,

I am the only mechanical engineer at my company, but I am not the one that is always gone to for engineering things, whatever. Point is, I have noticed that my boss has decided to task one of my coworkers with testing various rubber hoses and how they perform with fuel permeation. Now being that my boss ordered our hose according to SAE J30R9 specs, you would think that he looked at the testing section, right? As far as I can tell, that may not be the case, as neither my boss nor coworker have referenced the SAE J30R9 Testing Section, nor the next publication you would need, ASTM D471. As the engineer here should I give a damn? I just think it's silly to be spending time not testing stuff the right way, or to not use an industry/world standard that actually means something, especially when we're testing to show why ours beats two other companies. Am I just being a neurotic engineer?

RE: Should I Intervene?

If the coworker is receptive to advice, I would lend advice. If your boss is smart and will listen, you may want to question whether he is aware of the testing protocols.

It won't help anyone nor make the process work any better if mistakes are made.

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: Should I Intervene?

(OP)
I've briefly discussed the task with coworker the other day when I saw this getting set up, but I'll get some more info on the testing methods tomorrow, he had to leave early today. My boss might listen, but usually I have to deal with ideologue behavior which makes no sense because he literally hired me to do the things he doesn't know or have time, right?

Since the test results (insert any engineering aspect to be used for marketing) are planned for marketing to car guys; in my 6 years experience here I think he believes/knows it doesn't need to be that proper for car guys? But if we ever want to be cleared to sell to defense/aerospace/professional companies like he mentions, it seems like doing it the right way the first time make more sense? Like I said, just the engineer trying to prevent all future issues... Our hose is already certified by the NHRA, so I really don't even know why we're wasting time with this AT ALL now?!

RE: Should I Intervene?

You are not being neurotic. Testing requires a meticulous, sometimes even pedantic approach.

Lots of accredited testing labs daily perform seemingly simple tests like hardness, without apparently reading not just the applicable ASTM standard but the other documents it links to. If these businesses are consistently getting it wrong, what chance does your boss have?

Not being familiar with the details of your testing, I would just say: place your testing in a risk framework. In other words, what is the probability of something going wrong, and what could be the consequence to equipment and life if it did? Maybe your organization would comprehend better if they had things explained to them in those terms.

Oh, and document everything you do and say, including verification of ALL of the relevant steps in testing and product validation. For your own protection and for just good basic QC practice.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Should I Intervene?

If the goal is a marketing differentiation from competing products then testing "to the standard" doesn't get there.

Everyone "meets the standard". You want to claim "exceeds the standard".

Or possibly even better, be able to claim that your product does something amazing that the standard doesn't even consider.

Our milk is caffeine and gluten free!

RE: Should I Intervene?

(OP)
That's great advice ironice_metalluurgist (awesome username btw) and I think maybe that's why this sandbox style test is perhaps being done? I am just more concerned about the blow-back from the other two competitor companies if they are going to try and fact-check us, for example.

RE: Should I Intervene?

From the standpoint of a past product designer who routinely tested to ASTM standards for marketing purposes against competitors who liked to make up their own versions of standard tests, it was extremely easy for me to dismantle our competitors' claims when talking to customers.

What always worked for me and built up credibility for myself and the brand I was working for was to follow the standard testing exactly and make sure our product exceeded the minimum and what our competitors claimed. Creating tests outside of the standards for marketing purposes makes most companies that do it look like a joke in my opinion.

If there is enough documentation and justification behind unique testing, it might pass muster and be legitimate, but tests like that were far and few between in my experience.

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: Should I Intervene?

(OP)
I see your point there as well MintJulep (another cool SN on this thread) and perhaps that's the intent of this test in certain regards; I'll know a bit more later for sure. Even when following the standards, the variances in results, through any means of analysis will inherently separate out the non-standard results/aspects of the competing hoses as well. Whether that mandates retesting or a discussion of valid, yet interesting results in the end is a different story of course.

For example, after performing a test with valid results, we can say that Competitor A & B's hoses smell more like gasoline (subjective BS however) or that one of the hoses now has an observable/physical change in material composition after experiencing gasoline. It's just weird, because what we're testing for, permeation, should be tested using ASTM D471....

RE: Should I Intervene?

(OP)
SuperSalad, I agree with you, and whether people want to call you an ASTM shill or not is up to them ;). To me, it's almost utterly disrespectful to the hard work that ASTM's team is putting into this. It's not just a standard, it was likely a year (or more) of school/research lab-like work, it's making sure that it's fact verified on 100% of it's aspects and cited texts, publication, standard, etc. It's making sure that the previous test didn't have issues or inaccuracies, so that when it comes up for renewal, it's sure to still be correct and relevant, otherwise they will actually be corrected and revised!! That's awesome to me!! It's HYSTERICAL that people don't turn to stuff like this first, imo. But hey, I work smarter, not harder most times.

That's all I'm worried about to, some bung-hole engineer wanting to dismantle our claims haha!

RE: Should I Intervene?

Remember that as well written as ASTM standards are (and IMO they are the gold standard) their primary purpose is not to put too many companies out of business.
Here in the metal fabrication business I routinely add requirements or encounter them in technical specifications. When you make a product that depends on its public reputation you almost certainly want to go well above the 'minimum' requirements.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Should I Intervene?

The only plausible reason to NOT use standard tests, weak though it might be, is if you know that you will fail miserably, and you need some bright, shiny, results that you can desperately cling to.

Barring that, any discussion with your manager or coworker should lead with, "BTW, since these results are going to be publicized, shouldn't we be testing to the industry-accepted standards?" The whole point of standards, beyond good practice, is to level the playing field so that results can be compared and evaluated. I know that if I were to suggest using some unknown or even semi-known process for measuring MTF at work, they'd laugh at me and say, "Why aren't we going with the ISO standard?"

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Should I Intervene?

Think Firestone 500 tires.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Should I Intervene?

IRstuff,
It would take the average lawyer less than 5 minutes to turn an 'optional' testing standard into a 'legally required' testing standard.
The same with non-mandatory appendices in the ASME B&PV Code - I treat them all as mandatory.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Should I Intervene?

(OP)
IRstuff, I unfortunately have a boss that is an ideologue, and therefore what you've suggested I say ends in, "No! My way! I'm CEO." I've posted several times on here about when I thought he was being difficult for no reason (aka you don't know what the F@#$ you're talking about) if you want to go back and see haha. He's a software engineer trying to parade around as something he's not, and he's wasting two of his employee's time and his money now as he's roped our secretary into measuring the hoses now that the sales/accountant guy will be gone next week. If that doesn't help paint how much of an ideologue he is, I'm not sure what will.

I've got my own plan for prompting a fix once the results are published.

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