Thermal Spray Coatings Quality

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The title of this post may seem rather quite exhaustive or quite mundane depending on which way you look at it. After all if you are involved with the quality control function of a thermal spray coatings facility, you might think it is quite exhaustive. On the other hand, if you are an accountant in a thermal spray coatings shop, you might think it is not only quite mundane but also quite a revenue draining function. While I can sympathize with the feelings of the accounting function in thermal spray shops and for that matter in all manufacturing industries, I am an engineer at heart and you know I will always side with the other side!

And this is not without rhyme or reason either. The very reason why I decided to write about thermal spray coatings quality as a post in itself is what I learnt from the recent news involving Toyota. As a matter of fact, I could write an entire blog with tens of posts that involve thermal spray coatings quality. But for now, I will try to limit myself to this one single post.

Toyota quality was considered infallible in manufacturing circles. Yet even giants can face quality problems. This is a wake up call to all personnel in all thermal spray coatings facilities worldwide to stop, take a deep breath and re-evaluate EVERY single aspect of processing in your facility from a quality standpoint.

This is especially important in the field of thermal spray coatings because as you may know, the largest market for thermal spray coatings is in the aerospace industry where people count on the quality of flight hardware for their very lives. A spalled massive piece of coating can cause significant secondary damage to turbine engines; and if people’s lives get affected, it does not matter who you can point the finger at – it is already too late.

Re-evaluate engineering, maintenance, production, quality control systems, quality control personnel and so on. Talk about quality control personnel, make sure their eye exams are performed annually – the last thing you want is an inspector checking for cracks by visual inspection and he cannot even see the ten fingers he has from an arm’s distance! Metallurgical laboratory procedures need to reviewed. And I don’t care if you have already passed your NADCAP or ISO audits successfully – do it for your company’s own sake and not for the sake of some outside certifying agency.

And quality re-evaluation should not stop with only your own facility. You need to ensure that the purchased goods you get involved with are also well controlled. This involves ensuring the quality of thermal spray powders, masking materials, purchased gases and so on. Sure, it is going to cost a lot more to do business; but the cost of bad quality hardware could simply put you out of business.

As you may have seen with the Toyota debacle, would you rather clean up your own house before calamity strikes or wait for the agents from the FAA or NTSB show up at your company and start pondering through hundreds and thousands of pages of operations sheets, shop travelers, quality documentation and myriads of other data if you are found guilty of shipping bad hardware. And thank God Toyota is not in the business of aerospace goods. Good Lord, you surely are ( most likely ), now that you are in the thermal spray coatings business.

By the way, were any of you planning on putting thermal spray wear coatings on accelerator pedals for Toyota ! Just kidding !

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