With AlisQI we can make changes only when it is deemed necessary, and we have insight in the direction of the change. This helps us achieve stable processes and meet our First Time Right goals.
NelfKoopmans, a leading manufacturer in the chemicals industry, chose AlisQI for its extensive functionalities, built-in statistics, but mainly because the software system could easily be adapted to their processes.
The results: accessible data, clear overviews, and enhanced control. The smart QMS not only saves a lot of time but helps the organization change the production process or recipes in a way that is substantiated by data, not emotion.
In this case study, R&D Manager Jurian Biesheuvel tells us about:
NelfKoopmans is paint. We make paint: we produce and develop paint products for our own brands and for others. We inspect, advise and support projects and share our craftmanship with our partners, customers and users. Our modern paint factory is located in one of the most beautiful UNESCO areas of the Netherlands: “het Waddengebied”. This beautiful and vulnerable area is a daily reminder of how important it is to take good care of our planet and each other. We continuously work to make our processes and products as sustainable as possible. And we put just as much attention into our relationship with customers, partners and employees.
At NelfKoopmans, we adjust our software to our style. With AlisQI, we can do just that – mass imports and exports are simple to perform, we can specify the properties we’d like to control, the specification limits and include additional notes and directions for each product. This saves us time and makes working with AlisQI very easy.
In 2020, most of the administration at NelfKoopmans was still done on paper. This made it hard to perform statistics, maintain clear overviews for product specifications, and even just to imagine a connection with Exact Globe, their ERP. A digital Quality Control system was sure to solve these issues.
What were the requirements when looking for a QMS solution? The system had to be user-friendly while adapted to the manufacturing processes as much as possible. From the first demonstration of AlisQI, the quality management platform proved straightforward and easy to use. All customization needs were discussed and later implemented.
Producing 900+ recipes for paints and coatings, NelfKoopmans collects a vast amount of data. However, learning from this data and trying to identify trends on paper was very difficult since the analysis concerns properties of a range of products, not just one. It was even more challenging to draw insights since some of the products are made on a regular basis, but most of them are fabricated only a couple of times per year. With fragmentated data and lacking overviews of previous batches, it was hard to maintain consistency and focus on improvement.
“Let’s say the specification limits of one product are not met in a row. With data not easily accessible, a production manager is quick to judge, and may demand to change the recipe or process. However, by acting every time a specification is not met, you will never achieve a stable process.”, Jurian explains.
The switch to a digital platform made it easy for the organization to manage data, see trends, and take more informed decisions about recipes that needed adjustment. More importantly, the amount of off spec measurements was strongly reduced, and processes are being monitored to further improve the FTR.
“AlisQI makes it possible to zoom in on the part of the data that is of interest. By adding this data onto a dashboard, we cut through complexity. Those pieces of data become easy to access and to evaluate. This way, we can make changes only when it is deemed necessary and we have insight in the direction of the change; e.g. should we change the amount of raw material, change the material altogether, or change the mixing procedure?”
AlisQI makes it possible to zoom in on the part of the data that is of interest. By adding this data onto a dashboard, we cut through complexity. Those pieces of data become easy to access and to evaluate.
Using smart filters and creating a dashboard in AlisQI, we can make trends visible and improve the process.
To further illustrate their use of AlisQI and highlight how they achieved a more consistent end product, Jurian gave a clear example. The smart QMS system tells the team at NelfKoopmans everything they need to know about the color strength of deep base water borne paint.
“Paints that are water borne are used as a base to make colors. They contain a bit of titanium dioxide, but not as much as pastel (white base). Because colors allow for little deviation, the specification window for the color strength is narrow and we found products that often did not meet the requirements. On paper, it is hard to see a trend that would help improve the process. However, using AlisQI, we can visualize data and easily draw conclusions.”
“Take the graph below for instance: it shows color strength versus the recipe number, in chronological order. To the right of the green line, we actively used the data we accumulated. As you can see, the specification limits have been synchronized over the whole range of products. More importantly, the amount of off spec measurements was strongly reduced, and processes are continuously monitored to further improve the FTR.”
When the company chose AlisQI, they were already using Exact Globe as their ERP. But that didn’t represent a challenge since almost every ERP system can be connected to the AlisQI platform. The two systems have been easily linked together so that there is always a connection between a production order (PO) and the production batch.
“Data sets/lists that are available in Exact Globe and are used in AlisQI are – and some will be in the future – exported and automatically updated regularly. These include article codes and names, raw materials, locations, and people involved in the processes. When a production order is created in our ERP system, this is exported to AlisQI.” Jurian explains.
“Here, a QC-form mentioning that the batch is scheduled is automatically generated. When the batch is produced, and a sample is delivered to our QC department, this form is found by scanning the barcode. Basic data regarding the recipe is already present in the form because of the integration with our ERP: think of the article number, batch number, PO-number, amount of product and the date on which the recipe was changed for the last time”, he continues.
But the connection between the two systems also works the other way around. When a production order is handled in Exact Globe, this is also updated in AlisQI. Always up to date, the smart system displays the administrative status, whether an order is scheduled, finished, deleted, or disapproved.
When a production order is created in our ERP system, this is exported to AlisQI.
With AlisQI, we started building up datasets. This is the first step towards a more efficient production process.
The transformation with AlisQI has not only meant a switch from pen and paper but a step towards smart manufacturing success. Asked about the role AlisQI plays for their team, Jurian said “With AlisQI we started building up datasets. This is the first step towards a more efficient production process. I would say we are still in the middle of this process; we launched AlisQI in October last year, meaning we gathered data for less than a year. But, as discussed already above, with data accessible, we can change the production process or recipes in a way that is substantiated by data, not emotion.”
Future plans involve extending the possibilities brought by the integration with their ERP. “We would like to also have data exported from AlisQI to Exact Globe: density of the product, location and production employee. This is however a more complex step and not critical to the process.”
At this point, AlisQI is mainly used by the QC and R&D departments. However, the organization plans to involve production in using the system. Another short-term goal is showing AlisQI output on screens in the factory to keep production workers informed and extending the role of quality organization-wide.