Thursday, April 10, 2008

Would you drive that car?

Recently, I was talking with a supervisor about some parts that didn't meet the letter of their specification. He thought he had a funny story to tell me about finding an operator running the parts incorrectly. After pointing out the problem, the supervisor told the operator, "Would you want to buy a car with this part in it?" Wide-eyed operator shakes his head no. "You don't know what car this piece is going into. It could be your kid who buys that car!" The supervisor thought he had straightened that operator out, very funny.

I just looked at him blankly and said, "But that's all true." We don't know the application for these parts, but they look automotive and they could, for all we know, be safety-critical. As a third- or fourth-tier supplier, even important information like that often doesn't make it down to us. That negligence or miscommunication on our part could kill somebody or their child isn't funny. But working with it everyday, it's so easy to take that for granted.

Oh, and we decided that the out of specification issue with the parts would not affect their function. After all, we've run ten thousand of them like that, if it were a problem our customer would have complained by now, right?

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