Thermal Spray Estimating | Quality

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In a previous post, I had mentioned that quality control in thermal spray businesses starts off right at the quotation stage when you are pricing and estimating jobs and submitting quotes to your customer. There are several estimating and quotes software programs available in the market today. These estimating programs take into account the variables such as material costs, labor costs, overheads etc and come up with estimating data for quoting purposes. Let us examine this quoting and estimating process in a little bit of detail from a quality stand-point as it applies to the thermal spray coatings business.

I strongly feel that a check-list should be made available to the estimator when quoting jobs. Regardless of how experienced the person is, a check-list is always helpful. This is similar to the pre-flight checklist that airplane pilots use regardless of how many thousands of hours they have logged in. Remember, we are dealing here in this post with only the quality aspect and not the business aspect of the estimating process. The first and foremost is the coating material – is the correct thermal spray powder or thermal spray wire being considered; the correct class of the thermal spray powder and the correct sieve size needs to be considered to meet the correct customer specifications. I have come across situations where assumptions were made as to the class of the thermal spray powder and the cost of these powders can vary quite a bit and you end up with a losing contract or you lose the contract because the incorrect estimate was given and the price was too high. Are the correct masking requirements being taken into consideration. Masking is quite labor intensive and this could either affect pricing, delivery or both quite a bit. Are the correct quality control requirements being taken into consideration – many times, the customer will require an independent lab report to be submitted with every lot of parts – this costs money; sometimes, reduced metallurgical testing frequencies may be allowed – these have to be taken into consideration. What about process planning sheets – if they have to be approved by the customer before work can begin then the quotation needs to reflect the associated costs and timing requirements accordingly. There may be other quality control requirements such as submission of technical plans and customer review of first article processing and so on; these requirements must be reviewed by the estimator before submitting the thermal spray coating service estimate. Believe it or not, some companies require elaborate packing requirements during shipping – have they been considered or overlooked.

As discussed, quality checklists during the estimating and quoting stage can be very helpful in thermal spray coating shops. Being essentially a special process with intricate quality requirements, special care must be exerted during the stage of quoting and estimating and then of course after all the considerations have been made, one can use off the shelf quoting and estimating software if they prefer.

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