The aerospace industry is one of the most highly regulated and safety-critical industries. The AS9100 standard helps aerospace companies establish and maintain a robust quality management system that complies with all relevant regulations and industry best practices. This ensures that the products and services these companies deliver are of the highest quality and meet the industry’s stringent safety requirements.
Meeting the Demands with High-Performance Alloys
Haynes International has been instrumental in the aerospace industry’s development since its inception. In World War I, Haynes STELLITE® alloy cutting tools were crucial for producing military aircraft engines. In the 1930s, Haynes cobalt-base STELLITE® alloys were used on hard-face engine exhaust valves, providing increased reliability and power for higher horsepower engines. During World War II, Haynes supplied over 25 million STELLITE® investment cast blades or “buckets” for aircraft engine superchargers. With over a century of experience, they have become a trusted name in providing innovative solutions for the most demanding applications in aerospace, medical, chemical processing and other high-temperature environments.
Formerly known as Haynes Wire, the Haynes International facility in Mountain Home, North Carolina, specializes in taking the alloy from their sister company in Kokomo, Indiana and transforming that into reduced diameters used in various machining applications. Bobby Chandler has been the Quality Assurance Manager for the Mountain Home Haynes International facility for over three years. Chandler assures quality for all products and represents the quality management system regarding AS9100D and ISO 9001 standards.
Chandler, who was previously a mechanical engineer, has always been employed in the manufacturing sector. However, his current job with an organization with a significant presence in the aerospace industry has provided him with a new and unique experience. “I’ve worked for several different industries,” Chandler continued. “I grew up on a farm and it’s there where I learned to be mechanical through self-sufficiency. That type of environment led me to work in the manufacturing sector. I’m drawn to manufacturing, how things are made, maintained and constructed. I have always been interested in producing something from raw material to a finished product. I mean, we make the pieces that made the medical device that saved my dad’s life so I’m very proud about what we’re doing here.”
Commitment to Quality
Before Chandler joined the team, Haynes International connected with the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) partner, North Carolina State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES). Chandler stated, “My predecessor saw the value in having a relationship with the IES regional manager, Chris McGraw. I like to keep things internal, so I was skeptical about having external auditors when I came on board. I wanted to see how they audited so we could do audits internally. I was blown away by how well they knew the standard and immediately saw the benefit in that relationship.”
When the Mountain Home facility wanted to improve its AS9100 standard, IES was the first organization Chandler called. “We thought it was essential to partner with a group of experts, people who know the AS9100 standard backward and forward. They know we want to help our community and they want to be part of it,” stated Chandler. IES met with senior management to understand their shared expectations and how their business operated. They also conducted one-on-one interviews with department heads and interacted with the associates on the shop floor.
IES improvement specialist Nora Milley assisted in improving the AS9100 standard for Haynes International, as well as assisting with auditing. Chandler said, “Nora passionately refers to Haynes International as “our” business whenever she’s there. We have a bilingual workforce and she communicates with them so well that they’ve formed a bond; they greet her like an old friend every time she comes in.” IES quality improvement specialist Kristin Case also audited the organization to help them prepare for certification. “Kristin is so detail-oriented. She misses nothing,” Chandler stated.
As progress in the Haynes International Mountain Home facility was happening, the senior management at the organization began to take notice. “Before me, quality assurance was a one-person job. But as management began to see the initiative’s benefits, their heads started turning and they wanted to get more involved. They went from being reluctant to being very eager about being in the quality decision-making process. We always search for what we can do differently to improve our process.”
Operating by the enhanced AS9100 practices, Haynes International has improved organizational efficiency and effectiveness. The standard provided a framework for the organization to identify and address risks, manage their processes and continuously improve their operations. The advancements led to better control over operations, reduced waste and increased productivity, ultimately resulting in cost savings for the company. While working with IES, not only were non-conformances identified but so were opportunities for improvement.
Driving Continuous Improvement
When asked what separates IES from organizations offering the same services, Chandler said, “The trainers from IES have worked in the industry; they understand our needs individually. Working at an organization for so long, you get acclimated to how the operations work. Having a group of professionals identify things you overlook because you were desensitized to it helps tremendously. We’ll also introduce that training as new supervisors come on board.”
IES-conducted AS9100 audits have also been a highlight of the collaboration with Haynes International. “IES does such a deep dive into audits. For instance, they noticed something wrong with our terms and conditions for customer purchase orders. We were confident that we had “crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s,” but IES came in and found we were missing verbiage in the terms and conditions we needed to comply with AS9100. Other auditors never caught that,” stated Chandler. Haynes Wire also revised the data collection methodology based on IES recommendations. They went to a more electronic base to have more control of record retention and ease of data collection.
As a result of working with IES, Haynes International increased investment in new products/processes, purchased new equipment and increased employee skills. Even when IES isn’t actively working on a project with Haynes International, Chandler says Chris McGraw always reaches out. “Chris McGraw does constant follow-ups with us. His and the other IES trainers’ fresh eyes provide a different but knowledgeable perspective, allowing us to act quickly and effectively.”