Today we’re talking with Mr. Pete Batche who is Senior Quality Engineer/Heat Treat Specialist with Akebono Brake Corporation and also an individual who had a great deal to do with CQI-9 heat treating specifications.
Pete you and I have been running across each other for a number of years now but beyond your current position with Akebono Brake Corp. and previous to that with the Robert Bosch Company I know nothing about your background and how you came to the heat treating industry. Can you please give us a brief background of your history in the heat treating industry?
“1990 I began my career within the fastener industry beginning with the Cold Heading Co. of Warren, MI followed by Ring Screw Works of Sterling Heights, MI. Ring Screw Works was later acquired by Textron Fastening Systems. I was fortunate to be exposed to many positions within the fastener industry including Furnace Operator, Waste Water Treatment, Metallurgical Laboratory Supervisor, and In-process Inspection (Heading, Thread Rolling & Heat Treatment) Quality Manager & Global Heat Treat Specialist.”
CQI-9. The phrase can in some cases set fear into the hearts of many a captive and commercial heat treater. First off could you tell us how and when the spec originated?
“In 2003 there was a cooperative effort within the automotive industry primarily driven by the OEMs to establish a common heat treat system assessment with universal acceptance. Coincidentally several costly heat treat related quality concerns had occurred around this time frame, thus resulting in increased focus of the heat treat community. The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) was selected as the source to aid in directing these initiatives.”
If I was asked to explain in 50 words or less what CQI-9 is exactly my response would probably be; “CQI-9 is a worldwide automotive heat treating specification designed a number of years ago to insure (through self audits) that every heat treater of auto parts is working to the same quality standards”. So Pete how far off the mark am I?
“Your interpretation is correct. Same goals, objectives and hopefully the reduced frequency of second party on site assessments utilizing different heat treat assessments that were common place at one time and adding much confusion and a vast multitude of many different customer requirements that made it very difficult to comply with, from a quality prospective.”
I gather you had a great deal to do with the specification and how it is written and for that matter still have a great deal to do with it. How did you come to be involved with this process and how many individuals are actually part of the decision making process?
” I’ve very fortunate to have been included with the development of CQI-9 from the beginning. I received an invitation from the Detroit Michigan area OEMs to participate. As you have mentioned, I remain a member on the technical committee at this time. In excess of 19 individuals comprise the technical committee with much guidance by our chair person. As subsequent revisions and or changes are made to CQI-9, all related documents are submitted to the steering committee within (AIAG) for review and consensus approval. Overall it’s a very complex process with involvement from many individuals.”
I have always been curious-is this a paid position or voluntary? Along the same lines how much time do you generally dedicate to this and how do you fit it in around your “real” job?
“The committees consist of volunteers within the automotive industry and remain as unpaid voluntary positions. As far as the time dedicated, that’s a difficult question. It truly depends on the workload of “the real job” between committee meetings and the ability to “take on” assignments that are handed out. As new revisions to CQI-9 are scheduled for release, the members of the technical committee will have their hands full. However, as the recently released 3rd Edition has been rolled out I expect very infrequent meetings to discuss potential changes, errors and or maintenance requests (see pg 99 of CQI-9) of the assessment.”
6) Now here is a real loaded question for you, has this been a overwhelming success in that it has substantially reduced quality issues or do you feel that you still have a long way to go?
“Unfortunately, I cannot support this question with data and or quality measurable that most would want to see. I can only speak on personal experiences and interaction with other professionals in the automotive heat treat community. Yes, I honestly believe CQI-9 has made a positive impact on product quality, reduced variation and last but not least large customer quality impact issues in the form of yard holds and recall type conditions to name a few.”
I don’t want to beat the CQI-9 subject to death as I have other questions for you but I have to ask what do you see in the future for the specification? For instance do you see a point in time where every supplier is voluntarily adhering to the principals behind the specs and it will become redundant? Or do you see the specifications becoming more and more thorough?
“My perception is upon the initial release of the 1st Edition of CQI-9 there was some resistance within the industry. For example “Oh great, CQI-9 the new flavor of the month” what’s next? For the most part I see a disciplined approach taking place within the automotive heat treat community. As more products and services are sourced to all corners of the globe, familiarity of and compliance to CQI-9 can be nonexistent for several reasons. Either a new supplier to the automotive market and or customer specific requirements are not cascaded down to sub-tiers. At this point in time, I don’t see any major changes to CQI-9 in the near future. A sigh of relief for many I suppose!”
Moving on from CQI-9 I would like to ask you about Akebono Brake Corp. Other than the fact that it is a Japanese company supplying auto parts I know nothing about the company, what could you share with us and needless to say what is of most interest to myself and our readers is how much heat treating you do in house and what type of processes you currently run?
“Akebono Brake Corporation manufactures a wide range of brake friction material and foundation brake assemblies, including disc brake callipers and drum brakes to the OEM and aftermarket. Current in house processing capabilities include: solution, artificial aging & ferritic nitrocarburizing.”
You are in a truly unique situation in that you have been responsible for captive heat treating at at least 2 companies but you have also spent years looking closely at commercial heat treaters, and probably know commercial heat treating as well or better than anybody in the industry. This might perhaps be a rather simplistic question but beyond the obvious what differences do you see between captive and commercial heat treaters? For instance do you find that captives are more or less likely to invest in new processes as opposed to commercials? Do you find a different mentality between the two? As an example do you find that most commercials consider themselves “genuine” heat treaters compared to captives considering themselves parts makers first and heat treaters a distant second?
“Monetary capital investment in equipment between captive and commercial sources is like walking a tight rope in my opinion. Most are watching the economy / market place with hopeful optimism to ensure procuring new equipment and or investing in new processes is a sound business decision for long term. As we well know, increased furnace and equipment orders as well as improved sales have indicated a strong upswing for not only the furnace manufactures but also for captive and commercial sources as well. As I have a vast supply base of commercial and captive teat treat sources, let’s just say I have the utmost respect and enjoy working with them all equally!”
In what situations would you consider outsourcing your heat treat requirements and in which cases would you have a close look and say “the only option is heat treating in house”?
“Maintaining all processes in-house as well as ultimate control over quality is key. Last but not least, cost has a huge impact on the final decision.”
Do you see more heat treating being done in commercials in the future or do you feel the current ratio (roughly 90% in house and 10% commercial in North America) remaining pretty constant?
“For the foreseeable future I do not anticipate the estimated ratios you have mentioned would change much.”
I have been accused of travelling quite a bit but beside yourself I look like a “stay at home” type. With all the heat treats you have seen in countries around the world do you feel that heat treating is becoming pretty standard in all areas or are there still vast differences between countries in terms of quality and equipment?
“In my travels I do run across philosophical differences in the approach of quality systems and equipment maintenance in various regions. However, as I am a firm believer of CQI-9, if followed with a disciplined approach (as many have chosen to embrace in today’s day and age) I see some of the differential gaps beginning to close.”
What heat treating technologies do you see with the brightest future? At the end of the day heat treating really has not changed much over the past 100 years, batch IQ’s as an example are still as popular as when they were first introduced over 50 years ago. So do you see anything on the horizon that you feel might revolutionize or at least substantially change the way heat treating is currently done?
“As you have mentioned in many previous articles for publication various vacuum technologies have appeared to take center stage lately. In addition, I believe there is a much stronger demand for ferritic nitrocarburizing as well. No revolutionizing changes I can speak of. At the end of the day I see a lot of investment in process control for not only new equipment but used equipment as well, specific to furnace monitoring systems with all the “bells and whistles”. The days of paper chart recorders are slowly escaping us.”
None of us can predict the future but what do you think the future has in store for Pete Batche? Can you see yourself being involved in specifications such as CQI-9 20 years from now or do you see yourself remaining heavily involved in the captive heat treating field? Of course option #3 might be sailing around the world for all I know.
“Being a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to CQI-9, I have truly been honored to work with such a talented and great group of heat treat professionals. The knowledge and camaraderie I have enjoyed over the last 9 years has been personally and professionally rewarding. I would like to support the “mission” long term. For the foreseeable future I plan on continuing my involvement and development activities of the commercial and captive heat treat facilities. Or the alternative option would be, if I had it my way, I would be restoring classic British motorcycles full time in my barn.”
On a more personal note I always look forward to running into you at various trade shows around the world although every time I do it takes a couple of hours out of my life since we seem to be able to chat about heat treating for at least this long. I do want to say though that I truly hope our paths will continue to cross. Thank you, Gord