Nadcap has changed attitudes

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Nadcap has changed attitudes

09 December 2013

Name: Jacques Donis
Based: Belgium
Nadcap Auditor since: 2004

What would be the key piece of advice you’d give to companies preparing for a Nadcap audit?

I think the most important thing is to read the checklists thoroughly and understand the associated compliance guidance. Many suppliers do not understand how to interpret the questions. For example, I often see in initial audits that the supplier says that they have done a particular test every three months, because they have seen the checklist question asking if they do. But when I ask whether that is defined in their procedures, it is not. It is not enough to have the desired results; you have to write what you do and do what’s written. If it’s not written down, you don’t have to do it (which can be a problem if it’s a requirement) but if you do it, then it must be written down (or, why are you doing it?)

We all know that first impressions count. Are there any simple things that a company could do to give a good first impression?

In my experience – so far! – with a few exceptions, I have never been made to feel unwelcome. Nadcap is now known by the industry and people accept it. Suppliers understand the goals of Nadcap, and that is real progress.

It’s true that if I arrive and there’s a lovely reception area, it gives a good impression. But we have to see it in context: some companies don’t have reception areas and so on. And it really doesn’t matter. For me, the most important thing is the atmosphere when I walk in the door. The feeling within the company towards me as an auditor and towards each other. Certainly if I get the impression that there is poor communication between the departments, that makes me think I need to pay more attention to the impact that might have on quality.

What is your definition of “quality”?

That’s a big question! Quality is the collection of measures – whether written or in the mentality of the staff – that all point towards the same goal of giving the customer the product required, that can be used immediately in the way it was intended. The spirit of the company plays a big role in this and most are oriented towards quality in the aerospace industry.

For example, I audited one small, family-run forging company that was focused on customer satisfaction. All the staff were working towards the same goal. It was clear throughout the company. When I raised NCR’s, we discussed them professionally and openly. Then there was another company and it was clear that the staff went to work and did the job. No more, no less. From the moment I identified a finding, no one wanted to discuss it or accept responsibility. This is the impact that a quality focused culture can have on a company and its product.

In your experience, describe the impact of Nadcap on the companies you have audited?

Nadcap has had a big effect. I have reaudited some companies as I’ve been an auditor for a few years now. It has changed their attitudes, their culture. There’s less arguing about findings now. It used to be very hard to get suppliers to understand if I saw errors or procedures badly written. Now, it’s much easier because the procedures are clearer and people understand better what they need to do. Even the relationships between procedures are better – if one calls out another, it’s very clearly written. That wasn’t the case before. As a result, interpretation is much better. I attribute that to Nadcap.

What attracted you to Nadcap auditing in the first place?

Well, I first became a Nadcap auditor in 2004 by chance really. I was working with Snecma and the opportunity to become a Nadcap auditor came up through Aecma-Pro and Snecma agreed I should do it. I was pleased because I was very curious about the program and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. A few years later, my work at Snecma meant that I couldn’t continue but when I had time again, I started auditing for Nadcap once more.

What’s the best and worst things about being a Nadcap auditor?

The best is that I’m doing a job I enjoy, that I can do into my retirement years and I get to travel as well. I can stay working in the industry I’ve been in since 1966 and as long as there’s work for me, I want to do it. As regards the worst, I can’t think of much to be honest. I am seeing the world, suppliers are mostly open and welcoming and I’m enjoying it.

Please describe a typical audit day.

I get up around 6 – 7am depending on how far away the audit site is. I agree the start time in advance and normally arrive around 8am – 9am. I start with the opening meeting and, if it’s an initial audit, I take some time to talk about Nadcap, how it works, the different types of NCR’s and so on. Then we agree a schedule for the audit – whether I do the job audits or the paperwork review first really depends on the supplier. I tend to finish around 5.30pm – a typical day is 8 hours, but again that depends on the company and how they work. I try to work in a way that is harmonious with their business, that causes the minimum of disruption and stress.