Quality Magazine

Case Study: Take the Heat Out of the Problem

August 1, 2011
Software improves the time required to complete the critical first article inspection process.

After implementing the Discus software, Darchem was able to initially reduce the time of the first article inspection process by 50% and since then, 60% to 70%. Source: Discus Software


Darchem discovered that the Discus software improved the time required to complete the critical first article inspection (FAI) process required by many of its customers. Source: Discus Software

Darchem Engineering Ltd. is based in the United Kingdom and specializes in providing engineered solutions to high temperature/thermal engineered problems. Supplying primarily to the aerospace, energy, automotive and marine markets, Darchem is a subsidiary of the Esterline Corp. (Seattle).

Tim Marshall, quality manager of the Aerostructures business unit at Darchem Engineering, says, “We tell our customers that we can take the heat out of their problems.” Soon after becoming a Discus (Columbus, OH) software customer, Marshall says that Darchem discovered that the software improved the time required to complete the critical first article inspection (FAI) process required by many of its customers.

The Aerostructures business unit serves the aerospace and defense industries. Customers include major UK, European and North American airframe and engine manufacturers. Darchem engaged with Discus after a leading UK aero engine company announced it would begin allowing its suppliers to submit first article inspection reports electronically. Darchem took a proactive approach and searched for the right software package for the job. “We had heard that Discus was the market leader in electronic FAI software and it had the best overall package,” Marshall says.

The first sign that told Marshall that Discus was the right partner for them was the team approach to Darchem as a customer. “The team listened to what we wanted rather than forcing us to listen to what they could offer; that was quite refreshing. They also said, ‘We understand exactly what your needs are and what your customer base is going to need.’ A package was then tailored to suit Darchem’s requirements instead of offering us a one-size-fits-all package.”

Marshall says that he also liked how intuitive the software was to learn, enabling inspectors to put it to immediate use in the FAI process, as well as how easily the software can be adapted to the unique requirements of each of Darchem’s customers.

“We knew once we tried it that it was very much the software package we wanted to bring in. We have been able to demonstrate to our customers that Discus was the right company to partner with,” says Marshall.

Marshall says that Darchem now recommends Discus to its suppliers based on proven experience, and he is confident other UK companies could benefit from using their software. “In fact,” Marshall notes, “some of our key customers have also selected Discus as their preferred provider of electronic first article inspection reports (FAIR).”

A major benefit of the software package for Darchem is time savings. Marshall notes, “We were able to reduce the time of the first article inspection process by 50% initially, and since then, 60% to 70%.”

He says that the software takes a great deal of time out of the labor-intensive preparation process, which can involve gathering a large number of dimensions and specifications. Darchem delivers FAIR right the first time, and Discus has allowed Darchem to save a substantial amount of time.

“The fact that we are able to deliver the first article inspection reports right and in a timely manner plays a pivotal role as program timescales are often under pressure at this early stage. It gives the customer the confidence that we have the ability to manage the project effectively…and that helps satisfy the customer that they’re dealing with the right supplier.”

As a result of the time savings from using the software, Darchem realized a return on investment in six months, Marshall says. “I was expecting ROI in the first year. That would be good. But we were able to demonstrate to the directors here at Darchem a pound for pound savings-the Discus software gave us a six month ROI, in labor savings alone.”

From the good experience of the Aerostructures division, the company has purchased additional licenses for its other divisions, which are now also benefiting.

Marshall points out, “Customer support has been outstanding. In many cases, it has involved getting answers the same day. This allows Darchem to complete the documentation and deliver the first article reports to the customer on time. We didn’t expect to get answers the same day. That is impressive, particularly since we are located in the UK and Discus is based in the U.S. The adoption of Discus by other major European aerospace companies provides a further degree of confidence in the product.”

Discus Software Co.

(614) 360-2424

www.discussoftware.com

Benefits

The time of the first article inspection process was initially reduced by 50% and since then, 60%–70%.

The software takes a great deal of time out of the labor-intensive preparation process, which can involve gathering a large number of dimensions and specifications.

Darchem realized a return on investment in six months.