Non-Conformance Reports (NCR) are a necessary function of a compliant quality system and, if properly used, can be a great asset to any project or manufacturing process. Unfortunately, NCRs have a stigma of being a report showing how one person or group of people is not performing during a project or manufacturing process. Mostly NCR’s come for the operation or procedures to verify that they are operating as indeed or need to be revised to perform correctly.

Example: A third-party inspector is assigned to witness a hydrostatic test and review documentation of a pressure vessel at the manufacturer’s facility.

During the review of the approved drawings, the inspector, and documentation, the inspector notes that the test pressure is 400psi for 1 hour. The test is started after the JSA for the test; the pressure is increased step by step until 400psi is reached. Everything runs well until the 45-minute mark, and the pressure drops unexpectedly.  

The inspector checks the vessel body and weld seam and turns out one nozzle to shell weld joint is leaking. He realizes the water droplet is continuously forming and dropping to the floor. 

The test stops, and the supplier drains the water from the vessel. The hydrostatic test failed for the nozzle to shell joint defect and failure. 

The supplier provides the inspector with a material test report and NDE test reports in the next step. Then, finally, he reviews the test reports with satisfactory results. 

The inspector writes a source inspection report and one NCR report. He wrote his source inspection report indicating how he checked material and NDE test reports and mentioned the review result.

Similarly, he explains the hydrostatic testing report and how the vessel failed under hydrostatic testing pressure.

Also, he must fill out a nonconformity report. A nonconformity report generally contains the following information:

  • Customer data such as name, location, and contact person
  • Supplier data such as name, location, and contact person
  • Order data such as purchase order No., date of NCR, Tag No., etc.
  • Details of non-conformance; here, the inspector explains the fact of the incident and how the vessel nozzle to shell joint failed under hydrostatic pressure
  • Proposed Corrective Action: The supplier generally fills this part and indicates how the supplier wants to fix the issue. Typically, there are three checkmarks (accept as is, repair/rework, reject & replace) with one narrative box. Next, the supplier picks one of the above three options and explains how they will fix it. 

In the end, there are some fields for customer approval and responsible people.

As mentioned above, the NCR report is a supplementary report for the source inspection report to explain the correction action and how the customer will approve this correction action. 

In the example above, the NCR functions as documentation for a rejectable weld, engineering recommendation, client’s approval of those recommendations, and tracking of the repairs. A well-documented NCR can give the quality team much-needed data to analyze the root cause. Can that analysis lead to the actual issue of the NCR?

  • Did the weld receive proper pre-heat?
  • Did the welder use the proper rod?
  • Was the welder in an awkward position when welding?
  • Etc.…

After the NCR has been completed and the root cause has been determined, the team will apply that knowledge to the described vessel, ensuring this condition does not happen again. The non-conformance, along with the root cause analysis, will be used to continue improving the fabrication process along with worker knowledge.  

Without an NCR, the processes and procedures being used will continue to be followed, repeatedly causing the same rejectable condition. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing constantly and expecting different results.