So here’s the deal. I’ve posted many pictures of mistakes on my facebook page. Those where either manufacturing mistakes or mistakes made by a rigger. All up till now I did my best to hide the identity of the product or the name of the rigger, because AREA 47 facebook page is not a place to point fingers. I hope it’s seen as a source for information and not a place to start brand wars or naming and shaming rants.

This time I will tell you who made the mistake you will see!

Look at this picture!

What you see on the picture is a drawstring of a PD Valkyrie slider being caught by the right bartack that reinforces the channel. Now, that wasn’t done by PD!!! I want to make that clear. I did that!

Some years ago I read a book called “Black Box Thinking” by Matthew Syed. It was recommended to me by my good friend Collin Scott Thompson (the rigger at Empuriabrava). What the book is about is basically improving industries by analyzing the mistakes made in the past and using them as a learning opportunity. Basically, every time you try to hide a mistake  or blame somebody else, you are missing a chance to become better at what you do.

When I see a mistake made by someone else is very hard to troubleshoot why things went wrong. In this case I’m lucky. I know exactly how this happened and I want to share it with you.

Here’s how:

When I inspect something, I write everything that needs to be done on the inspection report. That way, I know what must be done, how much time will take me to do it (important for the weekly planning) and how much will cost the gear owner. That inspection report is used in the final inspection process as well. Everything repaired will receive another check.

The slider channel in question was never put on the inspection report because the main canopy wasn’t inspected. I only saw the broken stitch once I was doing the line check of the main after connecting it back to the harness.

Usually that’s a very quick fix, if the machine is setup properly. In this case, I needed to change the thread color, stitch pattern, needle and run a test stitch. All went well. What you need to know about Valkyrie’s slider is that on the back side very close to where I had to place the stitch, there’s a snap button. If you are not careful, you can damage the button (don’t ask how I know). Or if you don’t damage the button, you may break the needle (don’t ask about that either). What you need to know about bartack machines is that once you press the pedal, there’s no way back. The machine will finish the pattern, regardless if the needle is on one piece or it’s broken. And a broken needle will destroy the slider($$$). Basically, none of this will be fun. I was focused 100% on not destroying the slider while repairing it. The first thing I did after placing the bartack is to flip the slider on the back side and check if I didn’t damage the button. And since it wasn’t damaged, it was mission completed. Of course, I needed to check if I didn’t stitch the drawstring by mistake, but my over focusing on not destroying the slider, made me forget about that. And since the damage wasn’t written in the inspection report, a second check was not done.

One brain fart, one glitch in the matrix and you get a message with a picture from your customer. Fun times !

Do you know about the chain of events? It’s never one thing that gets you!

The damage was not written in the report. It wasn’t a normal slider. Only 2-3 stitches caught the corner of the line. A millimeter to the outside and you wouldn’t read about this.

And to be honest, once I placed that bartack, I saw that it wasn’t straight.(look at the picture one more time) The reason I didn’t unpick the stitch is not because my OCD didn’t raise its voice, it’s because I didn’t want to damage the slider in the process.Tight bartacks are very hard to remove.

Did I learn something from this? Absolutely!

Can you learn something? I hope so. That’s why I’m sharing it with you.

The laugh this time is at my expense