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.

Wow.

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