Probe Uncovered: QC Manager Andy Nichols on embedding quality control at Probe

At Probe, quality is about attention to detail and good communication – two things our clients regularly tell us we excel at. Probe’s philosophy of a responsive, practical service is at the heart of our approach to quality management. This is evident in the form of fast response and clear communication of clients’ objectives and requirements and complemented by products of appropriate high quality, reliability, safety and cost effectiveness.

Our dedicated in-house quality team has recently been expanded to help us continue to raise the quality bar as the business grows. They keep our equipment certified and ready to mobilise on a moment’s notice, and just as importantly, communicate quality issues across the entire business.

Meet Andy Nichols our QC Manager:

Andy Nicholls

Probe Uncovered is a blog format featuring behind-the-scenes information from staff members throughout the organisation.

WHAT IS YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AND NOW YOUR ROLE AT PROBE?

I have a strong background in quality control, gained through working within the oil and gas and renewable energy industries for over a decade in various quality roles. Now a dedicated member of the Probe QC team, I have an in-depth understanding of our client certification requirements. My main role is to ensure that Probe maintains a high level of service quality to all clients, old and new, by controlling all certifications and works production.

HOW HAS PROBE’S QUALITY PROMISE PROGRESSED DURING YOUR TIME AT THE COMPANY AND WHAT ASSOCIATED CERTIFICATES HAVE BEEN OBTAINED?

During my time as QC Manager we have put in place new procedures to meet with our client’s evolving requirements and expectations. We have implemented a formal IMS and have gained certification to ISO 9001 – 2008 and have also expanded by recruiting new members of staff to help update our certification portal and deliver supporting product documentation to clients.

HOW DID YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THESE ACHIEVEMENTS?

Gaining the certifications was a great team effort. Every member of staff played a vital role during the inspection and auditing process. My previous employment helped me to incorporate and update procedures in line with our 9001 Q1 quality control manuals and standards.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT PROBE MAINTAIN A HIGH LEVEL OF SERVICE QUALITY TO ALL CLIENTS, OLD AND NEW?

At Probe we continually perform internal and external audits to ensure that our QC procedures are in line with today’s market requirements. Throughout our product range we certify to the client’s requirements, which is the norm, or to our own standards if required. Every product is supplied with full certification which can be accessed via the Probe online portal.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON QUALITY CONCERNS THAT YOUR CLIENTS HAVE AND HOW DO YOU WORK TO REASSURE THEM AND MEET THEIR REQUIREMENTS?

Delivery time is the major concern with our clients; they need equipment quickly to maintain the momentum of the their projects, but at the same time, quality must not be compromised. At Probe we always endeavour to meet with our client’s expectations and delivery schedule by prioritising tasks and relying on our large on-site raw material stock. We conduct work in progress meetings and keep our clients informed at major project milestones. There have been times when we have turned around equipment and dispatched it within hours of receipt of the purchase order. Every project is unique, and we ensure best practice based on individual requirements. 

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE OR BEST PROJECT YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

We recently collaborated with SRP, a fellow Acteon Company, on the Minesto wave energy project. Having worked on many innovative projects with SRP previously, Probe were the ideal partner to manufacture, assemble and test a complete connector solution. SRP supplied a full set of design drawings, specifications and procedures, to allow Probe to manufacture, assemble and test the full system. To guarantee that our product systems met the clients’ requirements and specifications, all these services were delivered in-house.

This project was a great example of our manufacture, assembly and test service offering. Quality control was guaranteed through management of in-house services and rigorous testing, some of which was witnessed by the end user. Read more about the project here.

WHY IS QUALITY SO IMPORTANT IN THE ENERGY SECTOR / OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY?

In the industry there is no room for faulty equipment, especially once in the oilfield, where safety is paramount. Strict in-house procedures, regular audits and a dedicated team ensures that our business manufactures equipment to the highest standards. Our aim is to minimise downtime and increase efficiency for the end user.

ADVICE TO CLIENTS WHO ARE LOOKING FOR A MANUFACTURING SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

The need for operators and service companies to drive project costs down has increased in recent years. This has meant that the supply chain has had to become responsive to these needs by offering cost-effective solutions that don’t compromise safety or quality. In my experience, the key is consistency. Choosing a supplier that can deliver time and time again, at short notice and to a high standard is far more important than jumping between suppliers just to make minimal insignificant cost savings.

Probe has been operating for over 40 years building strong links with both local and global clients. Repeat business has been common with our clients, meaning we build a mutually beneficial working relationship and they know they can rely on Probe to deliver on time, every time. Due to the nature of the industry, clients do have unforeseen urgent requirements which come up. At Probe we aim to accommodate these requests in a timely manner so that our client’s projects stay on track. We believe that our vast on-site stock of raw material gives us a head start.

We recently covered ‘six questions to ask when choosing a supply chain partner’ on our blog.

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