Before we dive into the major issue with NADCAP certification management today, let’s underline what Nadcap is and what it was designed to do:
What is Nadcap?
Nadcap, short for the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program, is a globally recognized accreditation system that plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and overall quality of the aerospace industry. This program was established to standardize and enhance the quality, reliability, and performance of aerospace and defense suppliers. Nadcap certifications are crucial as they provide a rigorous assessment of a company's manufacturing and quality control processes, particularly in areas such as materials testing, non-destructive testing, chemical processing, and more. These certifications are essential for aerospace companies, as they help to mitigate risks, improve efficiency, and ensure compliance with strict industry standards.
Tracking Nadcap processing certifications manually is an extremely meticulous process, involving several steps. First, aerospace companies must identify the specific processes and services that require Nadcap certification within their supply chain. They then need to identify potential suppliers who possess these certifications or initiate the certification process themselves. This often entails audits, documentation reviews, and on-site inspections. The timeline for obtaining Nadcap certification can vary depending on factors such as:
The complexity of the processes involved
The supplier's existing quality management systems
The responsiveness of the certification board/auditor
On average, it may take several months to over a year to achieve Nadcap certification, making it a resource-intensive but necessary endeavor to maintain the industry's high safety and quality standards.
The solution to eliminating this extremely time-consuming process to free up time and money? Steelhead’s Industry Leading plant operating system with its Process Scanner Line, automated certifications, and integrated QMS.
The Nadcap Solution
Steelhead’s Scanner Line and automated Certifications were designed to completely eliminate paper on the plant floor.
The system removes any pencil whipping from the equation. “Our paper travelers have plenty of pencil whipping,” explained one Nadcap-certified job shop. “The way it is run with heavy manual intervention requires substantial data manipulation,” he explained as he adjusted an unintentionally extended soak time into the Nadcap parameters. “We are looking forward to automating all of this, with timers and alerts in a digital system to meet the standards set by Nadcap and improve our overall quality.”
Another Nadcap shop owner expressed how time-consuming and expensive it is to be Nadcap compliant with traditional certification management methods. “We have been audited by PRI the only audit source for Nadcap... We are an Electron Beam, TIG, Plasma, weld shop and are forced to do these $5600 weld audits and $1600 Quality audits. It does nothing for the quality of the welds but sure does affect the cost with the hours of paperwork and hiring two people to do everything they require that is only being done to justify PRI.”
However, the adoption of digital systems and intelligent automation is steadily transforming the landscape of Nadcap compliance and data accuracy. A study by Deloitte in 2021 reported that companies leveraging digital technologies in aerospace and defense manufacturing have seen a 40% reduction in data-related errors. These systems not only streamline and automate data entry but also employ advanced algorithms and machine learning to cross-verify data, leaving little room for discrepancies or fraudulent activities. Moreover, intelligent automation is capable of flagging anomalies and deviations from established standards, thereby enhancing industry compliance effortlessly. In fact, 85% of surveyed aerospace companies in the same Deloitte study attested to improved compliance outcomes after implementing digital systems, underscoring their profound impact on data accuracy and the elimination of undesirable practices like "pencil whipping" and falsification of records.
Nadcap Automation with Steelhead’s Certification Scanner Line
With a digitized Nadcap tracking system, gone are the days of preparing paperwork for pre-audits that are seldom analyzed. No more hiring multiple people to own this process internally. Everything is done at the click of a button with a user-friendly scanner gun and integrated system. “Certifications are literally just button clicking now,” explained Sam Pugliese, General Manager at Anchor Bay Powder Coating. “It [Steelhead] streamlines everything so, so fast.” Anchor Bay Powder Coating automatically generates many certifications per day, saving many hours per week. Anchor Bay is seeing an increase in certification-intensive business, given the low cost of meeting these certification requirements.
Turning audits from days into minutes: Steelhead’s certification scanner line significantly improves audit speed. Those audits are costly and the longer it takes the more the bill is. Scheduling/planning an audit efficiently and the jobs you plan to run for the audit is very critical, “I recall we would have the schedule made weeks in advance because you’re required to submit it to your auditor at least a week prior,” explains Anita Brkic, industry expert and Sales Engineer at Steelhead Technologies.
When Should You Deploy Steelhead’s NADCAP Solution?
There are two ways to deploy Steelhead’s Nadcap management system. In preparation for Nadcap accreditation or to existing Nadcap tracking programs.
“And as one extra step, when a company or organization is considering the Nadcap audit process to join the list of Nadcap-certified suppliers, they must ensure that they have an approved Quality Management System. For Nadcap, some of these quality management systems include ISO/IEC17025 or AS9003. If the organization does not have an approved quality management system, a quality management system audit can also be performed.”**
Getting started on Steelhead’s QMS module will enable efficient tracking of the quality of your metal finishing or heat treat process to easily pull reports for certification audits. Once such plant that deployed Steelhead’s job shop software to their production floor is Albers Plating, a division of Albers Aerospace.
“The way Steelhead is going to increase our customer base is because we now have efficient certification tracking to report for Nadcap capabilities,” explains Dwayne Elliott, Operations Manager for Albers Plating. “In a Nadcap world, capturing all the data digitally with the Steelhead Nadcap Scanner significantly increases the speed of our work because it can capture and track the data automatically, instead of writing each element down, line by line for each process.”
Benefits of NADCAP Automation
The success story of Albers serves as a compelling example of the broader trend of automation's benefits in the metal finishing industry, supported by data and statistics. Automation goes far beyond resolving operational challenges; it opens up significant growth avenues for businesses. Here's a more detailed breakdown of why automation is pivotal:
Lower Costs: Automation leads to substantial cost reductions. According to a report by McKinsey, automation can reduce labor costs by up to 20%. This directly translates into increased profitability. By eliminating manual labor and data entry, businesses can significantly cut operational expenses, enabling them to allocate resources more efficiently.
Higher Capabilities: Automation doesn't merely optimize existing processes; it enhances a company's capabilities. Albers' experience is illustrative. By automating certification, they could offer more comprehensive and specialized services. Research from the International Federation of Robotics reveals that automation enhances product quality by up to 90%, a statistic that aligns with Albers' ability to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to quality.
Increased Capacity: Automation empowers businesses to handle more projects without a proportionate rise in administrative overhead. This scalability is critical for revenue growth. According to the World Economic Forum, automation increases production capacity by up to 30%.
Competitive Advantage: Early adopters of automation gain a distinct competitive edge. The Boston Consulting Group reports that companies embracing automation experience 2.5 times more revenue growth than their counterparts. With automation, businesses can offer faster turnaround times, higher quality, and greater flexibility in quoting jobs.
In conclusion, the case of Albers underscores the transformative potential of automation in the metal finishing industry, and these benefits are supported by compelling statistics that highlight the profound impact automation can have on costs, capabilities, capacity, and overall competitiveness.
So whether you are planning to become a Nadcap-accredited plant or are already an established player in the Nadcap industry, the time couldn’t be better to streamline processes, save several hours daily, and boost your bottom line with the Certification Scanner Line within Steelhead's job shop software.
**Jones Metal Products, Tech Talks, September 25, 2020: https://blog.jmpforming.com/blog/nadcap-certified-suppliers-list.htm