Tolerance. In steel, it’s called ASTM A484

Tolerance is in short supply with me, especially lately. Traffic, people that drive the speed limit in the “fast lane”, airport security lines Oh! and waiting for Whataburger to deliver to the driver’s side window…

You get me. These are real struggles.

Oh wait. I’m not talking about the willingness to put up with something before driving yourself crazy, I’m talking about TOLERANCE as in the allowed variation in dimensions.

My world is round, especially in bar. I have remarked over the years that I do not subscribe to that flat world theory, but I have had to play the part a few times in a pinch (insert big shout out to my Cali and Dallas sales gals that have held my hand repeatedly when I had to brave this road less travelled). In my world, those tolerances are governed by ASTM A484.

ASTM A484 is all about bar conditions and finishes. Today tho, its just conditions. I’ll get to finishes later.

Conditions are determined by the last part (or parts) of what happens when bars are made that gives an idea of what the metal will be when it leaves the mill. The big word to describe this “part” is thermomechanical processing.

Wow. That’s a mouthful. But all it means is that the bar has had some sort of temperature put to it (the thermo part) with a machine or some sort of machinery shenanigans (the mechanical part).

And here’s that laundry list of things that are considered thermomechanical processing:

Hot worked, hot worked annealed, annealed, cold worked, hot worked quenched and tempered, normalized and tempered.

EDITED… pickling is not a condition. It is a finish which is discussed in ASTM A484 part 2. My apologies for having used that in this post. I have removed it for the purpose of staying within topic.

Why’s it important to know this? Well, in a word, because conditions influence the mechanical properties of the material — hardness, yield, tensile. The widgets of the world are manufactured knowing that a specific grade of metal will hold up to the stresses of the job– whatever job that widget has to do. Think of the widgets in your life. Screws, handles, espresso machines, cars, click pens – metal has to hold up to the repetition of use.

I leave you with this–

“Success is a science, if you have the conditions, you get the result.” Oscar Wilde

Back to the ol’ routine of things

Hey!!! Yup. It’s been a bit. Why? Well, I could go on and on about this or that with a sprinkling of that also, but nope. Just haven’t made the time.

What’s the line from the Steve Miller Band song (shout out to my dino rockers!) “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future!”

For me, time doesnt slip. It hauls ass.

Today’s post is a recognition of time is a precious commodity that demand far exceeds supply.

Two weeks ago school started for Thang 3. He’s a junior this year. Wow. How’d that happen and why did I let this baby grow up so fast? Mom’s know how crazy back to school can be. Clothes. Supplies. More clothes. Supplies exceeding anything I ever used in school. I thought I was going to be ahead of the game this year (see previous post of my attempts of planning).

Thursday before school is to start the following Monday, I’m reminded of my epic fail at this when I receive an email from 3’s counselor- “Can’t wait to see you Monday!”

Wait. What?!?!

For those that don’t know this already, Amazon (I do not receive monies for this plug), is a time saver. Over lunch, soon after reading that email, clothes and supplies ordered, arriving in 24 to 48 hours (it pays to be Prime sometimes).

Kid dressed to the 9’s, Day 1 of school – check.

Thang 2 is getting married in November. To stay in touch with that date… handy dandy app for that countdown

As the mother of the groom, I have to wear something more appropriate for this formal affair than shorts, my favorite rock concert T shirt (right now its GNR-thanks to my best gal pal for scoring that one for me) and flip flops. Part of that requirement is just the event and venue itself, the other part is the bride. She is a doll BTW. She firmly but gently reminded me I need to go dress shopping. And soon.

So Friday before the holiday we went. First shop, two dresses, selection and purchase made. All I can say is “HURRAY FOR MY SIDE!”

This evening I had full intentions of a blog worth reading for those in steel, especially for those up and coming, curious to learn and to apply knowledge when possible. Instead, I planned.

I’ll say it again.

I planned.

My direct supervisor would be pleased as punch to hear me say that! (Creds to ya, Pops, I have heard and heeded some of your wisdom.)

In the blogs coming, I hope to bring some organization (that word again) to the page that will be helpful. Its a big hope, I know. For those following, send me a note and tell me what you may like to see. As time hauls ass into the future, the site may change a bit for clarity and organization (oh damn, that word), so please be patient.

I leave you with this….

“Time is not measured by the passing of years, but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.” Jawaharlal Nehru

F899. Doesn’t apply to everything

Today, post is short but just a smidge under hill airy ess (those that know me, that’s hilarious).

Balancing goods received to invoices is the bane of my exisitance (a favorite phrase of a dear colleague that has moved onward and upward). Recall the blogs post regarding material specifications? Um yeah. This is related to that.

F899 is typically a material specification for medical stuff. You know, knee replacements, hip replacements, joint pins- ya get me- stuff that makes our toes curl.

Steel like stainless and titanium and chrome molly stuff has to be certified to ASTM F899 or it’s a big no can do. And usually small diameter stuff- less than 3.00 inches diameter stuff.

Look at your cell phone and think smaller than that width, but a round. Yeah. Medical. Surgery. The human body.

Yeah. So I have an invoice from a vendor that had to evaluate an MTR. The material the invoice referenced is 17-4 large diameter (like over eight inches diameter) round bar.

Welp, I would argue and say there’s not a surgeon willing to use an over eight inch diameter anything for either a surgical instrument or a replacement for anything.

I could be wrong, and I would stand to be corrected, but in this particular instance I don’t need this bar to be to F899.

I’m not going to pay it until I get further clarification from those who know way more than I.

Buyers in any industry are not sales folks. I have a healthy respect for inside sales and outside sales in any industry, and especially steel. The objections that those cool cats have to overcome in a day totally get an “atta way to go” and many times over a high five from me. I could not do it.

But it has been my career to know as much as I can about my industry to know what mill to go to provide the best material and in this case, know a smidge of a material specification to keep the costs reasonable.

When I don’t know, I take advantage of my resources to find out.


Dumbledore told Harry that “help will always be given at Hogwarts for those who ask for it” (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Book 7).

Surround yourself, regardless of your career path with those more than willing to help you while you are on your journey. I have been more than fortunate to have have several mentors in my career-those people that have forgotten more than I will ever know.

Project (as in tackle something) or Project (as in outward of something else)

In my professional and personal self, regardless of which meaning chosen, I pretty much suck at both. I have endless lists about with all sorts of projects from New Year Resolve to Be’s (a project always under construction) to Readying for the Holidays.

In case you didnt realize, that pretty much captures anything and everything in the year.

And I have lists to better organize my day(s) personally and professionally. I have to admit, as much as I attempt, I have one internal list that trumps them all, and I do as I’ve always done – the relaxing 30 minutes or followed by the mad dash to get out the door to the officiana. On the drive in, I am a spur of the moment kinda gal-stop for coffee or don’t, take this route or that one, stop for snacks at the office for later, well, okay, that one is determined by a real need as in “will I snack on what I already have or not?”.

BTW- I can project things- tho I am a girl, I don’t throw like a girl.

I have the best boss a gal could have. He shares his knowledge of the biz, he’s supportive but firm, and he knows I work best under hard deadlines. And he knows I really am fearful of projects as in PowerPoint sort of projects. He probably knows that right now, I am freaking out on this project that I have to have completed tomorrow (I have sorta started on it – I got the ideas at least), and I will get it finished. It will be fine.

But until it all comes together, I am going to fret for another oh, seven or eight hours. And try to catch some sleep during small fret breaks.

Which brings me to this- do not underestimate the value of a relationship.

I am successful at what I do because I work internally with some really great people. I work with externally really great people. While I am working at my position, I have relationships with folks that work in their positions. We work together like a finely oiled machine. Together, we achieve success because we know the capabilities of each other, and we know when to reach out, ask a favor and get the favor returned.

It’s that “You do me a solid, I do you a solid”.

My project is all about a solid being done for me and me returning that solid. Well, that’s simplified. I have to show the financial value of the solid, the ease of making the solid work if something changes, and the return of investment, and more stuff that really should have a few charts, graphs and a flow chart or two would be nice.

See, I have it in my head.

How do you put all that in a nice PowerPoint with a cool ass big bow?

I leave you with this-

“I speak to everyone the same, whether the garbage man or the president of the university.” Paraphrased Albert Einstein

Just the spec, please.

Ah yassss.  Specs — or specifically (no pun intended) material specifications.  Those requirements that material must meet before I can even think of inspecting and receiving into inventory.  Those tweaks of temperature in heat treating, those transverse and inverse charpy requirements and that hardness requirement that makes the audience of the market (and sales) sing praises of buyers and producing mills (a very rare occurrence, just so ya know, it doesn’t happen).

Today, I had a very past due invoice in my inbox awaiting to join me for coffee this morning.  And the world within my organization was in copy.   Those are always fun emails to read.  Really gets the day off to a phenom start.   By the time I finished reading  several “chimed in” and added to the growing email string.

Let me start out by saying — This would have been avoided if almost two years ago, I had ordered the  material to include a “spec” callout.

Material specifications, for lack of better words, are the recipe of how material is bought, and what requirements the material must meet.  The requirements serve to protect the integrity of the inventory.   There’s exceptions, sure but for the most part, not so much.

When I ordered this material, there’s not really a spec, and that material had to meet a min yield strength of 130 (more on MYS later).  I called a few of the mills that I knew could produce it, and went on my merry way.  I gave sales pricing and ex mill (when the material would leave the mill).  I was so freaking efficient, I got this done and done in a short time.  Sales offered the customer and bagged the sale.

I ordered the material.  18,000 lbs of material.  Long, pretty shiny bars were delivered about four and half months later.  I’m looking at the MTR (material test report — more on that later) and a pretty important test is missing off the MTR!  I mean, I’m talking so important that this can’t be sold without it — the freaking American Express of testing!!  All I can think is  “Did I ask for this on the quote?  Was it on the inquiry when it was sent back to me?  Please oh please tell me its there!!”

No.  It was not.  I didn’t ask for it.  What a rookie mistake.  But I wasn’t a rookie.  I’ve been doing this ordering steel stuff for about eighteen years.

This specific testing had to be performed at the producing mill or the material cannot be sold.  I have the equivalent of paperweights.  Hmmm.  Yeah.  Paperweights.

I ordered and received 18,000 lbs of worthless material, worth approximately $225,000.00 USD.  I tellya, I was over the moon excited to call my reporting supervisor and clue him in on my super huge mistake.  Fortunately for me, I was able to negotiate sending the material back to the mill for the testing, but at an additional cost.

So those that are new to buying steel — when you are told you need a quote for material and “there’s no spec”– argue with them.  While I was able to get the testing completed, it added another three months on the delivery to our customer.  Real positive move there.  And this time, it WAS the buyer’s fault.

In my world, there’s at least these:





I leave you with this —

“Have you ever found anything that gives you relief?  Yes, a drink.”  EB White, The Second Tree from the Corner


Tuesday!!! TACO TUESDAY!

So, Tuesday is like the second best day of the week because Monday is in the rearview and Wednesday is affirmation that one can make it to Friday.  Cheezits.  Once I get to Wednesday afternoon, I’m waving to the weekend because dayum… Friday!

It’s the little things, right.  And some days, its the really little things that make the day seem a smidge brighter.

Post today is a bit short– I’m learning this blog thing still.  I’ve a tendency to overthink things (I call it being thorough) and procrastinate (I call it knowing my subject matter).  Starting is good, and it will be the beginning.

I’ve been in the oil patch for most of my career.  I buy steel — mostly for downhole and completion projects and it sounds way more glamorous than it is.  Some things I can just recall immediately, and some welp, that’s why I have a material specification.  Being a girl in steel presents challenges, but a girl in steel in oil and gas as a buyer presents more challenges.  I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had many mentors that have taken the time to teach me how to be the best that I can and I hope to share that with y’all over the posts.

Til the next time — I leave you with this —

“There’s people that come into your life and have a positive impact.  We call those people bartenders.”   Unknown