Nadcap completes the circle

Nadcap completes the circle

Val Hart, technical manager at Fine Tubes explains why Nadcap accreditation is so important to Fine Tubes and Superior Tube.

Having fulfilled all the necessary criteria, UK-based Fine Tubes is hoping to receive one of the highest accolades from Nadcap – a two-year audit cycle for its heat treating processes.

Nadcap is recognised globally as the leading accreditation programme for all of the critical manufacturing procedures undertaken across the aerospace industry’s supply chain. To ensure that its approvals establish the necessary confidence in any particular supplier, audits are typically carried out on an annual basis. As Val Hart, technical manager at Fine Tubes, says: “This would put us in quite an exclusive club. There are not many organisations that have a two-year audit status for Heat Treating.”

Fine Tubes and its US-based sister company, Superior Tube, both units of Ametek Specialty Metal Products, have a long history of manufacturing precision tubes for a wide range of applications in which performance is critical – from aerospace to nuclear power, from medical equipment to deep water oil and gas extraction. Both companies also have long recognised the importance of Nadcap accreditation.

“The accreditation process drives good practice,” Hart continues. “It forces you to think about how you’re doing things, about the procedures you’re following. The Nadcap check list helps you to focus on the processes you should be following very prescriptively. Nadcap accreditation certainly helps to win business. Indeed, we could lose business if we didn’t have it, because customers would look elsewhere.”

Heat treating was the first Nadcap accreditation achieved by Fine Tubes back in 2004. That was followed by Non-Destructive Testing in the following year. Then, in response to a customer request, the company added Welding to its list of accreditations in 2013. Due to the consistency of successful assessments, Fine Tubes is now on the Nadcap Merit programme for all three disciplines. This year, Fine Tubes also is preparing to be audited for Chemical Processing and Fluid Distribution Systems.

Similarly, Superior Tube has Nadcap accreditations for Heat Treating and Non-Destructive Testing and underwent its first audit for Welding in October last year, which it passed with no issues raised. Formal certification was issued in November 2016. For both companies, the Nadcap approach is very much a part of their overall quality management systems.

Nadcap is an industry-managed programme, which means that audits are conducted by experts in their field, and the procedure is a rigorous one. Each auditable process has its own committee, which sets out a range of criteria against which any company seeking accreditation is judged. These typically cover the plant and machinery installed, the specific processes used, and both the training and qualifications of the staff employed. Any major or minor non-conformities with industry best practice are identified, a period of time is allowed for issues to be rectified, and then a reassessment takes place.

As Hart observes: “Our Heat treating audit was very much based on the way we use our furnaces. We had to demonstrate that we could always maintain a temperature within a very narrow band – plus or minus 10°C. It’s a strict process, but it does mean we can assure our customers that all the heat treatment undertaken on their tubing products has been conducted within a specified range. And, because the accreditation is recognised internationally, it means that aerospace companies don’t have to conduct their own supplier audits, and suppliers don’t have to be subjected to multiple audits from potential customers. It’s a programme that works for everyone right across the supply chain.”


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