Part Number 10392423 Calls Foul!

What is true for every endeavor is especially true for a quick turn electronic assembly business, — quality matters. Certifications and standards, policies, and procedures are all in place to minimize mistakes. A few days ago, The Orange County Register featured Bill Vlasic’s article in The New York Times called “An Engineer’s Eureka Moment with a G.M. Flaw.” Vlasic writes, “The discovery was at once subtle and significant:…” Reading what followed was a jaw-dropping experience. His discovery is significant, yes, leading to a recall of 2.6 million vehicles worldwide, and House and Senate investigations, but subtle?

Mark Hood, the engineer hired by a bereaved family to investigate the cause of the sudden ignition shut-off during a fatal car crash, performed destructive testing on the ignition switch, Part Number (P/N) 10392423. After his tests and analysis, he went to a local dealership for a replacement. His discovery? P/N 10392423 did not equal P/N 10392423! Foul! The mystery has unraveled from that point.

Besides being a well-written mystery tale, the article demonstrates the importance of compliance with industry standards. Imagine if a part in your design changed without having a new part or revision number! How difficult would that be to debug?! Well done, Mr. Hood!