Taking a Break from the Norm

When burning the ol’ yule log 2019, I had no idea that 2020 would be the show that it has been. Virtual graduation for Thang 3, lockdown, facemasks as an accessory (I do like my animal print masks BTW).
In spite of it all, there’s been some good. Really. If you look for it. I’m gonna to look every damn day.

So, it’s December 2020, and I’ve just just now decided to take a break from the norm.
My normal on this page is metal — those things I’ve learned over the course of my career, or in most situations, that day, that I’ve shared with you guys that read my totally awesome blog (insert smiley face, like right here).

It’s 2020 and freakin’ December, right?   Whodda thought in March this would be the year that it has turned to be?  For some of us, a good bit of us, 2020 has not really been that crazy of a year, if you really think of it.

Here’s why —
I’m working for an organization that said — “Work from home, Peg!”  OM freakin G!  Really?! No way!

As a mom of a special needs child (he’s an adult now) having this opportunity BITD would have been a HUGE plus for me when he was a wee wun.  Not to mention the other two that blessed my life after Thang 1.   I am fully aware of the difficulties and challenges that working from home then (as now if he were still a wee wun) would present, but I’m going to put this in the “win” column.

I’m working from home AND I STILL HAVE A JOB!!

Oh wow!  Being in oil and gas, as a buyer specifically for oil and gas (and some energy, OK, some) that is definitely in the “win” column.   The huge global conglomerate that I work has been more than kind to me, even in the post closing of markets I support.  Bitter pill to swallow?  Yes.  But bitter not only for me but for those that I’ve supported over the years (yep, I’m eventually affected).

I get pup hugs!  Often!

Another bonus of working from home.  If you’ve been on a conference call or being the presenter on a web call of any sort, the post of the day parking in front of the house, oh! Amazon delivery (Hella YEAH ! Amazon trucks aren’t just Santa Claus) rando neighbors walking and the pups making it known to all “Get AWAY from my LAWN” — how many of you saw Grand Torino (and Clint Eastwood) in your head?

Yup.  Still do. Every time the pack alerts to activity in the front.  Not on my lawn, just the front of the house.   Def a notation in the “win” column.  If nothing else, for grins.

Oh and good coffee?  Not a problem.

I am a coffee snob.  Or so I thought, but I’ve decided that its probably the additives (chlorine and chloramines) in the water more so than the coffee itself.  I am a dedicated user of the filtered water function on the way cool ‘fridge the hub bought the fam a few years back.   Totally makes a difference.  I use the same “ugh” coffee from the ol’ officina, and it ain’t so bad.

And because I wear that filter out, guess what?  The pack goes off when Amazon delivers a new filter!  Just a bit of fun for me.  Totally a win!

Oh, and how do you interact with co workers?  Got that down!

So many things were installed for us to use; various instant message software (in addition to Outlook).  But 2020, we picked up the phone!

Wait.  What?!!  The phone?!

Yes.  We picked up the phone.

That prompted me to pick up the phone with every opportunity that presented. Coworkers, vendors, internal customers, external customers.  I picked up the phone.   If for nothing else, just to say “Hey!  Wassup?”

This whole 2020 thing while a big, huge speed bump in our life has shown us all to take a few bits and reflect that there has been good in all this, even when it appeared that nothing was good.  Struggles?  Yes.  Business and friend adversely affected?  Oh.  For damn sure.  But to only see the negativity that the year has been?  If that’s what you want to see, OK.

I can’t.

In a “Son of a NUTCRACKER” year, “Smiling’s my favorite” — Buddy the Elf (Elf, the movie).

I leave you with this — “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”  — Martin Luther King

Just some random stuff in a day

After taking a few days of vacay, I needed a HURRAY FOR MY SIDE kinda start to the day when working through Outlook. A little bit of odds and ends in the inbox triggered today’s post.

There’s those days in your work that come around and ya think, “there’s no way I’ll be asked this”. It’s happened to all of us, right? And when those things come around again, we know the answer.


If you do nothing else in your day but answer that question that you thought you’d never be asked again — you have NAILED it!

I had one of said days a good bit back, but today, a few of these came back to me today, so in my way of thinking, I’d share with you hoping that you can also have one of those HURRAY FOR MY SIDE kinda days. We need as many of those days as we can, right? it is 2020.

The amount of Chrome in stainless steel.  If it doesn’t have 10.5% Chrome, it’s not stainless.  

30 RMS – Smooth surface.  Some will refer to this finish as Centerless Grind or 
CG’d bar. 
50 RMS – Peeled and polished surface usually on small diameter bars, but can also be on mid sized bar, depending on the alloy.  Always ask the mill if you aren’t sure and especially if you are asked for the diameter tolerances.  
If the question of tolerances on the diameter is mentioned in your chat with sales, while you’ve the mill on the telly or while tapping out that email — ask this also 
Are tolerances:
1.  On the high side of allowed 
2. Mid side of allowed (“split” between +X/-X)
3. Low side of allowed
My experience is that mills will hit on the high side of allowed.  

Condition B 
ALWAYS cold drawn material 
Why’s that?  Cold Drawn bar has higher mechanical properties, of course.  
ALWAYS small diameter
I’m talking small diameter as in less than 1.00 in diameter.
Keep in mind a mill run is about 1500 – 2500 lbs depending on the material right? 
Usually when Condition B comes up in a request for quote, its not for a good bit, usually a few cuts to finished the job or the project.  
Wanna look like a supah stah buyer? 
Here’s how– 
If you’ve material in stock that is COLD DRAWN, send the MTR to the producing mill for evaluation of compliance to Condition B.  There’s a chance the mechanicals will meet.  You don’t know til you ask.  

302 Stainless
You’ll get this in your day.  Its a high melt min and sometimes a longer lead time BUT you are a SUPAH STAH buyer, right? 
304/L can possibly be dual certified to 302, BUT you have to have the material specification (if for an end user) AND the standard the material is to meet.  Gotta have one or both tickets to ride this 304/L train. 
Send to the mill asking for evaluation of compliance to 302 and there’s a decent chance (not always) it will meet. 

And tho I speak mostly about stainless, this one was from last week.  Three days chasing this one down.  

Request was for 8.00 diameter aluminum extrusion bar, stress relieved.  Not gonna happen.  Not in a bar over 5.00 diameter.  Domestic (I’m in the USA) mills are not capable. 

I leave you with this — 
“There are people that come into your life for the better.  Those people are called bartenders.”


BAZINGA! You’re a Bolt!

In my day, I learn lots. My teachers usually are sales folks. You know the ones, they have that question that requires me to stop for a sec and think about it. Most cases, a quick search on the big ol’ spider web gets it. But there are times like this one that the answer gave way to landing way more business than I would have imagined. Just about everything is “fastened” with a bolt.

There are some folks in my life that are trailblazers. I mean, hit the ground running, move or I’ll move ya kind of people. While I’m an early riser, I’m a blink slowly for a bit, enjoy the hugs in a mug, blink slowly again, and gradually ease into the day. Takes all kinds to make a world, right?

In the course of my career as a buyer for steel distribution and service centers, sales people typically are the trailblazer types. Most I know get up well ahead of the sun, have followed up to all the “pendings”, and has sent me several requests for quotes, requests to pull material in or find 8500 lbs. for an order that the “customer can’t wait for ex mill” before they’ve even poured their first cup of coffee. The day plan of these Type A’s have been perfected over the years and nothing, absolutely nothing gets in the way of that plan. They have this mad skill to keep the course, perfect adherence to the five minute rule so that by the end of the day, all is done except for those onesies and twosies of things that allow them to launch in the wee hours while coffee is brewing.

At this point, I may or may not have brushed my teeth.

I’ve such a gal in my Dallas branch. This gal is the “whisperer of one offs” like I’ve never seen in my entire buying career. I admire her drive, tenacity, and determination to exhaust attempts to the very end. She’s good at selling metal and she is the queen of asking me questions that start with “Will you ask the mill…”

Of course I will.

Over the years, she and I have learned a lot together and I’m very grateful for her talent to close the deal for her but mostly the opportunity she gives me to learn something about the world I live when it comes to steel.

She had been working an account, trying to get us and our material in their shop and away from a large competitor in her specific selling area. The customer had always bought mid to large size diameter bars from us but she wanted that small diameter business. Small diameter stainless, just so ya know, for this particularly customer is used for fastening the larger diameter stuff together. And the opportunity for smaller diameter stuff could very easily exceed the weight of the mid to large diameter stuff. More metal = more money for her, right? The coolest thing about this inquiry was the education — for all of us.

Change in buyers at this customer so in the chat of what we can supply, the conversation rolled around to bolting. Yep. Bolts. I call them fasteners, but hey, who’s keeping track of what’s what, right? The newbie was told by various peeps at the shop, that while we’ve a load of 303 stainless, we don’t supply to bolting standards.


Because we do. Here’s how.

All (as in inclusive) round stainless bar that is in compliance to ASTM A320 can be evaluated for compliance to bolting standards. Those standards would be:

A193 and A320.

Hot rolled, cold finished or cold drawn — it’s not a big at all. Just a note here -A320 includes 303 where A320 does not.

Bolting has it’s own nomenclature (yeah, I get it, not the correct use of the word, but it works here) to “callout” the metal grades.

A193 Grades are

  • B8->304
  • B8M->316
  • B8R-> XM19
  • B8S-> N60

Conditions are by Classes (easy A here, Folks!)

  • Class 1-> Heat treated
  • Class 2-> Strain hardened

A320 Grades are

  • B8->304
  • B8F->303
  • B8M->316

Here’s another about the austenitic grades (those mentioned above). Process annealing is allowed. Recall the post about times and temps? Process annealing allowed does NOT require / need a separate annealing. If you don’t know what process or path of the mill, give them a quick shout as they will advise you.

For complete compliance evaluation tho, send to your mill rep. They are always more than happy to take a quick peek. My experience is that bar can be a bolt.

I leave you with this —

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein

Boom! Chem can meet Mechanicals! (Hurray for our side!)

Stainless round bar obtained from your mill depots can possibly meet standards that your customer requires, even if its not stated on the MTR. You just have to ask to have the MTR evaluated for compliance.

Use your resources to get through your day. Really. They are there for ya!

So, I’m cruising along in my day, baller jam in the background (my workout playlist is NOT for just a sweat sesh for lifting the ol’ Fe at the gym). Yep, you know it, I get a “high importance” email from a sales rep needing to know why 304 Stainless round bar is ohmahgah, the dastardly, CHEM ONLY.

Well, in the aerospace world, there’s this standard, AMS 5693. Just to throw out there, recent AMS standards have given me so much grief of late that I was so focused on the standard that went into effect in April ( 5643V) when this came popped in my emails, I honestly thought “Dude, we are so way past that!!”

But, nope. I must stand corrected. We are no so past that. We are very Van Halen (shout out to Sammy) Right Here, Right Now (Mike P — miss ya, Bud!).

For those that are anti Sammy fans, keep your comments to a minimum, please.

So customer has ordered little, bitty small diameter bar and yes, the world that is governed by MTR’s says that this itty, bitty small diameter bar only meets chemistry of AMS 5693.

Oh My! How could that be!!!

Well, it’s really pretty easy.

When one orders material, on this thing called a Purchase Order, and the mill is to make it to those dastardly terms and conditions of the said Purchase Order, things like standards and internal specifications can be, as we say in the biz, called out. If I’m ordering material “ex mill XMonth / Xyear” (ie., ex mill March 2020) I am expecting the material to meet the callouts that I have noted on the PO (Purchase Order).

For example, in case you need to know — Comments on the header would be — MATERIAL MUST MEET AMS 5693 (CHEM AND PHYSICAL REPORTING) REQUIRED ON MTR FOR ACCEPTANCE AT TIME OF DELIVERY.

Just a note, I’ll go into PO comments on another post as I was schooled by the best back in the day and seven years later, I’ve not had any negative comments about my PO’s from my mills AND my sales team has occasionally mentioned that my PO comments are helpful (Shocker! as a buyer — that’s HUGE! we aren’t known to be helpful. Ever).

If you are reading this and you are a buyer for a steel distribution company, you know that in a day, there are those orders that come up that can’t wait for 18 weeks ex mill, so you buy what we call “depot stock”.

So, to get everyone on the same page, here, depot stock is that. Mill depot stock. Sure, there’s other distributors out there, and there’s those master distributors that only sell to distributors that save my ass in a pinch, but for the most part, I am going to my tried and tried mill depots. The major mills (if you are a buyer, you know who those are) have them, and have them strategically located in areas that are A) high probability for opportunistic sales or B) at the mill location itself, commonly referred to in the biz as floor stock.

If you are a buyer and you don’t know about mill depots or mill floor stock, send me a note (peg.e.sam@gmail.com) and I’ll get you the hook up.

Back to the regularly scheduled program. Yes. This 304 itty, bitty round bar was mill depot floor stock. The mill depot orders to their standards, their mill tolerances, their mill standard lengths. Not a problem right?

In a perfect world, yes. Not a problem. But, I don’t live in a perfect world, ya see. I live in a world that for some reason, is of the opinion that I need more stuff to do (I love it, don’t misunderstand. I really do. I learn the coolest shyte about metal that most peeps don’t. It keeps me young, and off the streets and out of the bars).

How this callout got past the Ojo eyes of my gal out in Cali- dunno. She doesn’t know either. Long day, lots to do, who knows, doesn’t matter. What matters is that —

All that needed to be done is have the MTR evaluated to meet the specification.

Yep. That skill — Drag and Drop — hasn’t failed me yet.

I sent the MTR to her, asked if it could be evaluated for compliance to AMS 5693 (include mechanicals) and boom!! In a few hours, I compliant material.

Here’s the why the material was only CHEM ONLY.

When mill depots order their stuff for floor stock, they are looking at the big picture. Think of throwing a fishing net for shad (shout out to my fishing peeps). Mills are producing material and shipping material that will meet 95% of the typical requirements of most buyers/end users. Chemistry is the most important because mechanical testing (hardness, charpies, yield and tensile) can be tested 3rd party (huge shout out to those 3rd party testers!!) and meet standards.

There are some standards tho and some internal material requirements that require all this testing to be done at the mill. Why?

In a quick answer — It’s cheaper and it saves time. If it meets requirement, you ship today, right? And, you bill tomorrow. BONUS!!

In this particular instance, the mill produces ALL material to meet chemistry — the majority of the demand for this 304 itty bitty bar. CERTAIN size ranges (you guessed — this bar was in that size range) creates particular instances of compliance.

All that means is that it may or may not meet the mechanical testing requirements of the standard. It’s not a guarantee, but all it takes is an email to the mill to make certain that it does or it does not.

You have to ask. If you don’t, you’ve answered “No” for the mill, your customer and your company.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to create relationships with your mill contacts. They are your first line of defense in an adverse situation — if it a mill claim, an early delivery, or extra material needed because that ONE customer just cleaned you out of everything. They will make you better than you really are.

I leave you with this — “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.” Mark Twain

17-4 H1150 has a +1 coming to the party.

How can H1150 meet H1150D mechanical properties? It all depends on if the material requirements will allow the use of the material. If the desire is the mechanical properties and not there double aging, it’s possible. Here’s the quick 411 on how.

There are a few times when I am just on, ya know? Maybe it’s the 32 ounce RTIC cup that my gal Audra (shout out to that Georgia girl in Philly now!) gave to me for Christmas so that I have a continuous hug in a mug (aka coffee), perhaps the mutli vitamin that I take daily (could it possibly be), or slight chance that it’s my Spotify playlist of baller jam playing just loudly enough for me to get the good mojo going when I hear Korn’s cover of “Word Up”.

Who knows? It happens, tho.

On this particular day, while listening ever so intently on a conference call from hell of excess inventory and what can be done about it, I spoke.

Those that know me, know I speak a lot. I mean, a lot. I’m a chatty kinda gal, silence makes me uncomfortable — much like too much white space on a paper. Like, it needs to be filled. Shockingly enough tho, I have learned on conference calls and most meetings, I need to just STFU and listen.

But this time, I just couldn’t.

Next thing, I know, while the discussion is about small diameter 17-4 H1150 (what I have always known to be SH (Single H) 1150 as in not DH (Double H) 1150, I pipe up like I have something important to say.

So I said, “I can see what we can do here in the Southwest with it as many times, SH1150 will meet DH1150 properties (the mechanical testing parts — yield, hardness, etc), IF the requirement is to meet properties and not the double heat treating.”

What? Who said that? Oh dayum. I spoke in a call when I should have just been noting the activity of next steps. Next steps? Whose steppin’? Well, that would be me, when it’s all over and the fat lady starts up the pipes.

But yep, Folks. It can happen. And it does. More than you’d think.

So why is 17-4 both single aged and double aged?

Well, to get the technical of it, I had to burn a call to my go to guys at 10.5% Guroos again. (One day, I’ll ask for permissions to use their names, they are great folks there and they help me daily. I mean DAILY.)

The standards for aged hardened material is none other than our buddies, good ol’ ASTM A564, AMS 5643 Mod, Condition H1150.

Notice I just mentioned SH1150. Not DH1150.

In our oil and gas world, we live by the standard NACE MRO 1795. NACE doesn’t even MENTION SH1150. Distant relative. Double H, Folks. Because more has to be better, I guess.

NACE is the National Association of Corrosive Engineers. The big think tank of folks way smarter than I that have been looking at corrosive properties of materials and having fun doing it. These cats sit around in chat rooms several times a year, talking about things like resistance to corrosion, useful life spans of the tooling, and oh mah gah, risk mitigation from tool failure (shudder!).

Back to DH (Double H)1150.

Well, heat treating a bar of 17-4 twice will give a bar higher strength and make the material harder, because not only is more better- the twice heat treated bar will be more resistant to a corrosive environment, have a longer useful life in the tooling and will be more resistant to failure in end use application.

To get there tho, its a very tight timeline thru a flaming hot. big ass oven.

When material gets treated, it actually gets softer. No shit. It does.

Tensile is lowered because the heat treating temps are in lower ranges and the second aging is at the freaking lowest temperature possible to obtain the desired results of –

Yep. Single H properties in a Double H bar.

My go to Guys at 10.5% Guroos (nope, I’ve not asked for permissions to use names yet– yes, I should have priorities in order) have advised me that temp ranges are sorta like suggestions — as in, “Get it this hot, don’t go over, because if ya do”,… Well, you just won yourself a fairly expensive do over, ya know whaddaimean?

Here’s the mechanical deets, Peeps!

 Ten(Min) Yield (min) ElongationReduction of Area Harndness (HRC) Impact (ft lbs) 
H1150135105165028 MIN30
DH1150125105165024 Min / 33 MAX30

Remember tho —

NACE is applicable to DH1150, Double H 1150 or even H1150D. To be in compliance completely with NACE, the material does have to go thru the second aging. In the check list world of receiving — that second aging has to be on that MTR. If not, it’s a reject. There are material requirements that don’t require he second aging. One just has to read the requirement to the MTR and ask the question — Do you want properties or the extra heat?

I leave you with this — “A grill is just a source of heat. Just like a stove, it is very user-friendly.” Bobby Flay

630 is 17-4. Really. I’m not joking.

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!


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

“Is it going to be ‘just like'”

In a word, no. Nothing is ever “just like”, especially in steel.

Today, I had to source some small diameter 17-4 (less than three inches in diameter is small to me), double heat treated to H1150. In the steel world that I live and breathe from 8AM to when I leave the ol’ officina, that’s called 17-4 DH1150 ( shout out to those that have gone before me and call it 630 round bar!).

Honestly, I couldn’t find the weight needed, about 2500 lbs or so, already treated, but I did find some annealed bar that could be treated to DH1150. So I offered it to sales, suggested to get it treated and we’d still be in the good. Pretty freaking awesome for just before 10 AM, if you ask me.

Well, in the request for quote, there’s all this stuff that the material needed to be, hardness properties, tensile, yield, etc. No big, right? I mean, we are going to pay to get it there. Still, pretty freaking awesome for just before 10AM.

Mid day, the email comes to me, I see the ghost pop up on my screen, and there it is — “Customer wants to know if its gonna be JUST LIKE this” . the referenced “THIS” is an tolerance of +/- 0.002. Yes, plus or minus 0.002″ on the bar.

My bars are to ASTM A484 and have a cold finished tolerance of + / – 0.003″. That’s the standard, and finishes (cold finished or hot rolled rough turned) typically follow those ASTM standards on tols. (I’ll tellya all about machining allowances at a later time — that’s a hella explanation, even for me).

I explained to sales the ASTM 484 thing, and realized while discussing this very small difference, I came away with knowing, that, nope, it’s not “gonna be just like”.

I’m glad I live in Texas, where we have “the same, but different” attitude.

When you just don’t know

I’m interrupting the ASTM A 484 conversation to bring you this:

When you don’t know, you just do not know. And, that is OK. Let me explain.

So. At about 3:00 in the afternoon, it was brought to my attention that a LOT (several thousand pounds) of material was “in quarantine.”

In my world, quarantine is unsaleable material. As in, THIS CANNOT BE SOLD AS IS.

Yes. All caps.

Yes. Oh Damn.

I have a great end of the day happening right here. Right now (to take a phrase from Van Halen / Van Hagar depending on how you wish to interpret. – Oh, and a shout out to my East Coast Short Timer that is a HUGE Van Halen fan. Yep, you know who you are.)

In my line of work, we have specific part numbers created for customers for a variety of reasons. Those reasons could be finishes, conditions, tolerances, mills or even none of the above. If the material falls into the “none of the above” category, its usually because their demand exceeds the norm and we just gotta have it in stock to make the sale.

All of this is just fine if, as the buyer, you know the history.

Welp. You guessed it. This buyer (specifically me) didn’t know the history.

Material comes in over standard tolerances. Like 0.297″ (yes, of an inch) over tolerance.

Material was rejected by customer.

Oh well, damn. Why, oh why, now after four plus years?

So, I put on my over thinking it cap (remember, I just like to be thorough, I have more time in a day for this kind of shyte than I have budgeted). I make a call.

Then another.

And another.

The standard OD tol is 0.0030.

The material is +/- 0.30.


Most would say, “Insignificant figure(s)!!!”

But when machining… those insig’s are time. And money.

At first, honestly, I thought -“it’s a typo” as we went from a legacy system to an ERP system. Maybe an error on the flat file upload.

Nope. That would have been awesome if that were the case.

After the calls, this material “part” was created using a hot finish OD tolerance, way before I got here.

During the downturn of oil and gas, I brought this in for this customer using a standard part (just to make my life easy at the time), with the normal standard OD tol of 0.0030.

Oil and gas began its increase in demand for specialized material last fall, and I freaking suggested to order to specific parts to make sure we had the material to supply demand (Thanks Econ 2301 for explaining that curve).

So Sales did as asked.

I didn’t know that when the part was created in the ERP that a hot finished tol was used. I cannot “see” that when I input.

I did not ask to see the PO from the customer.

Is it a big deal? Yes. I mean, as in “Hell yes!”, it is a big deal.

That overage is time. That overage is money. When a bar, whether it is a straight pull (guys just grab inventory and measures the length, pack and ship) or if it is a cut length (pull the bar, input a set up on the saw for a cut length, file down the roughs, pack and ship) there is time and/or processing on our side as the supplier. I’ve not begun to touch on what happens at the end user, but I would imagine it goes as this:

Receiving gets the cut pieces or bar and mics the OD. Since the OD is over tolerance, the piece or bar is rejected.

Time spent: 1

The rejection goes to quality.

Time spent: 2

The QM goes to buyer.

Time spent: 3

Buyer sends to Engineering.

Well. If you know engineers like I know engineers……..we can’t measure that time. When engineers (gawd love higher education, really) look at material, most of the time, there is a bill of materials (BOM) involved, then a drawing, then the project, the the finished piece. And then evaluation of purchased cost, correction cost of time and materials vs finished part.

Well. I may be on the bad side of that final evaluation of what most view as insignificant figures.

Hello, Quarantined material.

Let me just say that I have an awesome relationship with the inside sales rep that is working hard to save my ass.

There is a first time for everything I suppose. Since I have now, I know, I mean I KNOW as a new(ish) buyer, you may encounter this same problem in your day. Someday. Maybe.

So. What have ya learned?

I leave you with this….

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something” Unknown

Let’s chat about finish ASTM A484 Part 2)

Well, let me be brutally honest with you. Years ago (seems like a lifetime to me), I began my career in purchasing in the valve business. I was voluntold for the position. The company I worked had gone thru an acquisition. A pretty positive thing for sure. But the Gent that was the purchasing guru of the “high end valves” (Monels and Titaniums), wasn’t keen on learning a “new system”. My job was to take an email that he sent to me with the quote request in the body, and attach drawings so that the manufacturer or vendor could produce the valves, by pouring or casting.

Yep. Attaching docs in an email is pretty difficult. Thank you Microsoft Engineers for drag and drop feature/function today.

This guy tho, pushed every button I had. He made me laugh. He made me so angry I couldn’t see straight. He made me cry tears of anger and frustration. I walked out of two meetings because he was a jackass. A total jackass. But he taught me much about purchasing and most importantly how to read a standard. His advice – “Peg, print it, mark out the BS, hilight the important words. Read the highlighted part. You’ll get it.”

I smoked (shudder, I have since quit) lots of cigarettes over this guy.

Let’s fast forward almost twenty years. Pete, I love ya, Bud, but it is just a skosche more than that.

Where I come from, my early days days in my career, finish wasn’t something that was taught to me. Hell, standards weren’t taught to me, really, until I landed where I currently sit. Oh, the standards have always been there, but within an internal material specification. My mill contacts knew those standards, and held my hand more times than not when I had to ask a question of said standards for the sales team (remember to utilize resources- can’t stress that enough. Mill reps and mill contacts are huge, BIG resources in your day).

It worked. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy (cred to Douglas–hope all is well with ya, Darlin).

Oh! But then I landed here. And honestly, up until about eighteen months or so ago, A484 made my eyes cross and glaze. You know what I’m talkin’ about? Deer in headlights. Times a bazillion.

A downturn in the primary economy in which one works will force one to learn it, ask questions, use it, rinse and repeat. Not to mention a co-worker that reminded me regularly, “Peg, dammit, you know this!!!”

Sometimes, one just needs affirmation. Ya know?

So I am going to explain as I understand it. Let me repeat that

As I understand it.

If you, Dear Reader don’t understand it, call a lifeline (5 minute rule exercised here).

If you, Dear Reader think I’m wrong, please comment (nicely- no haters here, please) because I am the keeper of keys and grounds here and I can edit.

The above statement is my sort of disclaimer. I have a mill rep that is absolutely awesome and I can already hear his eyes roll. Then there’s my immediate supervisor. He has forgotten more than I know on this subject. More actually, and he will be mentioned in future posts, I am sure of it.

So. What are we talking about? Oh yes. Finish. ASTM A484.

Technically, the standard says that finish is pretty much the surface of the metal and tolerances when that stainless steel bar ex mills (jargon for shipping from the mill). One knows the finish by the thermomechanical process used in producing the stainless bar (see the previous post).

Ok. Reading that again makes my head ache. But the Reader’s Digest version, as I understand it – the tolerances of the diameter of the bar (remember, my world is round).

Oh, there’s all kinds of finishes. Here’s a few: pickling (deleted for clarification in previous post), rough turned, centerless grinding, straightening, polished, peeled and polished, and the one that caused me lots of grief to wrap my head around, the infamous “cold drawn (or working) but not to increase mechanical properties” – (ASTM standard A484,

Note on cold draw not increase properties – It is my goal to be able to explain that one so that it can easily be understood. I am so not there yet. Sorry Kids.

Really, tho, in day to day ordering of stainless bar, I can make it super simple.

Remember these three:

Cold finished (usually abbreviated by CF)

Hot Finished (usually abbreviated by HF)

Rough Turned (usually abbreviated by HF and is basically the same as HF. Made ya look).

Oh, there’s lots of jargon in the biz. I have found that the jargon is usually used when creating a description because ERP systems/ programs have a field for “description”. I have to tell you honestly, those descriptions helped in the early learning of stainless because for me, I didn’t have to know numbers. Going thru doc review (shout out to my qual guys), I am surprised at what I didn’t think I knew but did know because I have read it a bazillion times.

Some of the jargon you may see: CFA – Cold Finished Annealed condition

CDA – Cold Drawn Annealed condition

HRART – Hot Rolled Annealed and Rough Turned

HRRT – Hot Rolled Annealed Rough Turned

CG – Centerless Ground

And the completely explanatory

Peeled and Polished.

Gotta give a high five and fist bump to my mill guy, Kev. You know who you are.

I will discuss tolerances that result from the finishes in the next post.

For now tho, I leave you with this:

“Quality in a service or product is not what you out into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” Peter Drucker

** Comments are appreciated and welcomed. Please tho- this is a no hate zone and intended to assist those coming behind me. I had and still have awesome resources that have struggled to help me understand. Because of those individuals, I am better than I really am.