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When Your Process Goes Out of Control

When your process goes out of control…

Whether you’re establishing a production process to achieve consistent, repeatable output or manufacturing a product that has to be absolutely perfect in every instance, you know the mayhem that can ensue when processes go out of control and things take a turn for the worse.

You’ll likely recall events in recent history that spiraled out of control and wreaked havoc on these highly reputable brands:

In late 2016, Samsung suspended sales of its popular Galaxy phones when the company discovered that a manufacturing defect in the phones’ batteries were causing them to spontaneously burst into flames.

In 2010, oil giant BP, which had positioned itself as an environmentally responsible brand, saw its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico explode, killing 11 workers, causing untold damage to wildlife, and destroying the region’s fishing and tourism businesses for years to come. The event is deemed the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In the early 1980s, seven people in and around Chicago died after consuming Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules that had been laced with lethal doses of potassium cyanide. In the months following, Johnson & Johnson introduced new tamper-proof packaging that has become the industry standard for all over-the-counter medications.

Could these companies have averted such disasters? In some cases, chances are likely. Undoubtedly, they would have had to rely on more effective process control – controls involving active process monitoring that invoked procedures for quick action when monitoring tools indicated something was amiss.

 

Superior process design balances the tangibles against the intangibles.

During the initial process design phase, it’s important to balance the desired measurable outcomes for performance, manufacturability and repeatability with the intangible, yet invaluable, variables of human safety and brand reputation .

For example, what is the value of an effective leak detection system in the mining and petroleum industries? The answer lies in in the value placed on human lives and the environment.

And the pharmaceutical industry? Because it’s essential for pharmaceutical companies to guarantee not only the shelf life of their product but also the efficacy of the product’s active ingredients, how valuable are trace gas detection methods to detect pinholes or cracks in packaging?

And, consider the cost to industries such as bioprocessing, food and beverage manufacturing, and environmental analyses. Modern-day, real-time samples can immediately alert manufacturers to problems with yield, quality or consistency, and enable them to alter critical process parameters on the spot. When relying on real-time sampling, entire batches of costly biomaterials or food does not go to waste when quality issues are addressed immediately.

 

It’s not all about the Benjamins.

Of course, cost is also a significant factor in the design equation. But, saving money by sourcing less expensive components can backfire in the long run – by increasing human injury, lowering throughput, producing inferior quality products or damaging your brand reputation. For decades, Mott has worked with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to help design customized filtration and flow control components for real-time sampling devices, gas detection devices and a host of other challenging applications. Throughout the years, several of our long-standing clients who initially opted for lower cost suppliers came to us when faced with insurmountable quality or performance issues.

 

The largest avalanche is triggered by the smallest movement.

How often has it happened to you? You design a process and the pilot model performs perfectly…but, when you set out to build the full-scale production model, something gets lost in translation. When you’re scaling from prototype to production and things don’t perform as expected, you need a partner who can help you troubleshoot – to help you stay on time and on budget and to achieve the performance outcomes you expect.

That’s why we rely on statistical process control to measure, monitor and control processes. Six Sigma processes, that result in less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities, have become the norm, not the exception. And, even that number seems high, given the mission critical nature of commercial flight or medical treatment. At Mott, we incorporate multiple inspection points into our manufacturing processes where we digitally track upper and lower specification limits. This not only ensures top quality, but also keeps schedules on track and costs down because any defective product is caught early in the process.

Employing additive manufacturing dramatically increases design flexibility, but also introduces a whole new host of process control parameters. Therefore, to achieve consistent part quality, it’s crucial to monitor critical parameters like powder characteristics, laser function and support structure. Throw in complex fluidic pathways and proprietary capabilities, like porous design for filtration and flow control, and we’re talking varsity-level process control!  Any engineer’s “spidey-senses” will ignite when they see that type of complexity in a single bill-of-material part!

So, whether you’re filtering valuable catalyst from your process, or your satellite needs to flow xenon to thrust it into space, or your sparger has to release the precise amount of nitrogen into your trendy new beverage, the filter or flow control component you choose can critically impact your entire process.

 

A change is gonna come.
One thing is certain – things will change. Whether you’re designing an entirely new process or improving an old one, you’re constantly checking to ensure you’re not only upholding quality standards but also complying with all regulatory and safety standards as they evolve. And, of course, you’re always striving for the ultimate in next generation performance.

As innovators and technologists, one of the biggest sins we commit is not reacting fast enough to new shifts in the market. At this moment, we’re firmly entrenched in Industry 4.0, a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that redefines what’s possible using interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data.

Industry 4.0 promises dramatically increased speed and accuracy. At the core of Mott’s capabilities is the ability to influence accuracy and precision of automated systems using tried-and-tested modeling of flow control devices and filters. We push the boundaries of kinematic motion by harnessing the power of 3D-printed components to add new features and capabilities to your processes. And we’ll work side-by-side with you to advance your processes and help you lead the market.
We’re more than just the pretty face of filtration and flow control devices.
We understand. When building your process, you’ve got a lot to think about – and the filtration or flow control component is just one small piece of a much grander puzzle. But our engineers at Mott have the know-how and experience to assist with other parts of the process as well. We deal with all types of chemicals and fluidic applications – from precise semiconductor manufacturing applications to incredibly complex aerospace applications to state-of-the-art static mixing applications. Our renowned filtration testing laboratory is at your disposal; take advantage of it to conduct in-depth application analyses and determine your optimal process operating parameters.

Our 3D printing expertise enables us to custom print porous filters and flow control devices in virtually any configuration – and we even produce parts that have both porous and solid components working together.

We’ve successfully partnered with engineers and product managers across hundreds of companies when they were frustrated with trying to adapt off-the-shelf, mass-produced fluid controls into their complex, high-precision, mission-critical products.

We urge you to consider Mott the next time you’re developing a state-of-the-art process that demands consistent, repeatable output with flawless quality. Your product, your reputation and your brand deserve a partner you can count on – today and in the future.

Would you like an innovation partner to help you tackle your next challenge? Contact us today.