In my day, I usually have several “are you KIDDING ME” moments sprinkled heavily with eye rolls, sighs of varying audibility, with a few ermahgah’s thrown in just for giggles and grins. You get me. It helps the day go.
Some days, tho, the kidding me’s, eye rolls and ermahgah’s just aren’t enough.
There are things that pop into the ol’ email in box that just demand more, but yet, in an office, more cannot be given, ya know? Gotta stay somewhat PC, even in the oil patch. A short line requesting help on a forwarded email chain (you had to know it). Close to the end of the day (of course!) And while reading the chain a sigh with the eye roll, immediately followed by a gaze to the ceiling with a finale of “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!?”, just doesn’t quite give the satisfaction that I need when this sort of thing happens.
I got a live one that day. A customer ordered 17-4 round bar. The Material Test Report (MTR) didn’t have 17-4 called out specifically as the material type. This particular mill calls 17-4 “Type 630”.
Our customer was just a bit short of pissed because in their mind, we shipped the wrong material and the email string was all about negligence, shock and awe, just short of amazement at the carelessness of our quality standards. As I read the email string, I could not believe what I was reading! They actually believed that Type 630 and 17-4 were two different material grades!
ERMAHGAH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?
Google, people. The best book you’ll ever read.
So, with my eyes that couldn’t stop rolling, I call my branch and explain that as long as I’ve been in this industry, 17-4 and Type 630 have been used interchangeably for the same material. Why? I don’t know. It just is.
But the customer wants a Certificate of Compliance (C of C) from the mill (not us) stating that fact — that Type 630 is 17-4.
Oh man, you are not SERIOUS! Really? A C of C? Because, yeah. Mills want to do that.
Well, I have an ace up my sleeve because I know for a FACT that when I ask this of my mill contacts of this mill, there’s gonna be a chuckle or two as the three of us combined experience is pushing seventy five years in the industry (one of us, I think was born under a pump jack).
I call my gal, I ask her to help me with my problem and of course, she does in the best way she can. She has the UNS code, UNS17400 added to the MTR. It should by all reasoning, stop there, right?
No. No, it does not.
The customer’s interest has peaked. In a wild way. Wants to know the history of why Type 630 went to an UNS code. And when? And who or what “entity” made those changes?
Have I mentioned Google?
When one does the Google of what is Type 630, one of the first options to click is “SAE Type 630 stainless steel (more commonly known as 17-4, also known as UNS 17400 is a grade of martensitic precipitation -hardened stainless steel.” (Wikipedia).
BOOM! There ya go. Finished. Right?
No. No, we are not finished.
So I call a lifeline to my Product Manager, that is one of those kinds of product managers that has sat in a buyer’s chair for good while and has probably forgotten more than I know of stainless material.
You’re gonna love his answer.
“Just because it is.”
Thank gawd he elaborated a bit to get me out of this pickle with the customer and to share with you’s guys.
Back in the day, Society of American Engineers (SAE) used a three digit numbering system for identifying alloys. When it came to 17-4, SAE decided to use SAE Alloy 630 for 17-4.
17-4 is one of those alloys that have the ability to be heat treated in several heat tempers, such as 17-4 H1025, 17-4 H1150 and 17-4 DH1150. SAE didn’t create a unique three digit number for each of the heat treats, so the industry has used 17-4.
I leave you with this…. “I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.” Stephen Hawking