Customer case: Allnex
We now have an accurate and real-time control system. A problematic product can be accurately followed and safeguarded with SPC.
The Dutch manufacturing site of Allnex lacked the tools to analyze their large amounts of quality control data. In order to monitor all their products they needed to automate statistical process control. In this case study, they tell how AlisQI enables them to sit back and wait until the system informs them about deviations in their quality.
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Until recently, the Dutch manufacturing site of Allnex used Excel sheets to control their static processes. This was only ever applied to products requiring additional attention.
The quality data of all 500 different products are now continuously monitored. With the AlisQI Quality Management System, Allnex has a constant quality monitoring system in place, which also visualizes the production trends of all resins. This has resulted in a more consistent product and a marked reduction of the rejection percentage.
Peter Dousma is the Quality Control Manager of Allnex. The company started using AlisQI a couple of years ago, as a system to enable them to process analysis results, into useful information for product quality management.
The Dutch site of Allnex manufactures over 500 different resins based on petrochemical and natural raw materials. The company supplies 90% of its output to coatings manufacturers who produce architectural paint, coatings for ships, new cars and car repair finishes.
Albert Zwerus, Senior Technical Service Manager at Allnex: “We manufacture around 100,000 ton of resin annually, making us the world’s largest resin production site. This resin is made in batches.”
“We employ about 320 people here and supply mostly coatings producers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Our products also find their way into cars made in Asia and South America.”
“Originally we were part of AkzoNobel. But we’ve been part of Nuplex Industries since 2004, a New Zealand group which produces resins and other exclusive products worldwide.”
“The automotive sector, in particular, is a discerning industry, demanding resins of the highest purity level and consistent quality. It is challenging to deliver constant quality with batch production, and given that we produce various products in each batch reactor.”
Dousma: “A Certificate of Analysis is attached to each charge, which offers the client a guarantee that the product meets with the specifications.”
“We test this both in our Quality Control lab and during production. We check for the number of solvents, the viscosity, the acidic content, and the appearance. The recipe is a standard.”
“The quality of the coatings is for the most part determined by the quality of the resins. To meet this, our QA/QC process is exceptionally intensive.”
“Car coatings are tested for at least five years in the US state of Florida, to check that they hold their shine and do not deteriorate too rapidly under the influence of sun, rain, and wind.”
The automotive sector in particular is a discerning industry, demanding resins of the highest purity level and consistent quality.
When an operator starts, he or she can immediately see the results of the previous charges and start the preparations by tracking these.
Allnex does not continuously make the same product. There may be days, weeks or even months between the various charges.
Dousma states: “If the parameters of a charge are too close to the specification limits, we risk exceeding these the following time, resulting in the product being rejected. We therefore wish to prevent this by always remaining on the safe side, some distance from the specification limits.”
“When an operator reproduces a product, he or she will take into account the analysis data from the previous production batch and make the required adjustments.”
“Given that we continuously make 500 different products, from a practical point of view it is impossible to enter the data and update the archive by hand, as well as to later retrieve it for use with SPC, statistical process control.”
“Therefore we limited these activities to the products which in our view require additional attention. We would collect the data in Excel sheets, which allowed us to make calculations and visualize trends.”
“To save time and follow more products, we were seeking an SPC tool which would take care of everything automatically. Researching the market we quickly came across AlisQI,” remembers Dousma.
“AlisQI seemed highly attractive for us, as it is the standard package for quality management with production companies. We contacted AlisQI in May, and by September it went live.”
Zwerus: “When an operator starts, he or she can immediately see the results of the previous charges and start the preparations by tracking these.”
“Non-conformity and SPC alerts are indicated per day. These alerts warn the operator that production in certain charges may not quite be ‘in control’. The product may meet the specifications, but not the static criteria for following the process that Allnex has implemented.”
“In the following charge, the operator can influence the processes to a certain degree, thus ensuring the product parameters are an improved fit with the specification.”
“The program also allows for a trend line to be visualized, ensuring you quickly see if specific parameters are dropping when measured over the longer term by aligning a series of batches of the same product.”
“Once corrective measures have been instigated we can also observe if these have resulted in the desired effect by following their trends.”
AlisQI also shows us how the operators have reacted to the alerts. In this sense, it truly acts as an outstanding Quality Production Dashboard.”
Dousma sums up the advantages: “We can now offer a more consistent end product. In the event of deviations, operators are able to react much faster.”
“We now have an accurate and real-time control system. A problematic product can be accurately followed and safeguarded with SPC.”
“The automotive sector also appreciates the fact that there are inbuilt control mechanisms within the process, ensuring that the route is better managed and that you’re able to guarantee the quality of the products even better than before.”
“AlisQI certainly takes a major step forward in this. Our resins’ product numbers, batch code, and analyses data are all recorded in AlisQI.”
Zwerus: “AlisQI works via the internet, this gives us the facility to call up the data when away from the office or when visiting a client. If a client has any questions, the data is at our fingertips and we can talk with the kind of confidence that is backed by hard facts.”
Dousma emphasizes that AlisQI is not a process control system: “Process control is performed by Honeywell TDC; a system that also records data such as temperature, pressure and filtering. With AlisQI we look at the product data and utilize the lab’s and the operators’ analyses.”
“All measured data arrives in a sort of reservoir within AlisQI,” he continues. “This is where we can unleash a whole set of statistical analysis tools on it. These are a standard setup in AlisQI, to mine additional information on the quality of the production and the products.”
“AlisQI analyses the raw data automatically and will give alerts when specifications are exceeded, or when patterns discovered flag up the process as not being ‘under statistical control’.”
“It is entirely user friendly and fast. Operators view the data every morning when preparing for the day’s production.”
“Everybody is deeply impressed by the system’s speed. Without automation, it would be impractical to collect and collate the data from so many products, and certainly entirely impossible to analyze it. Now all of this is readily available and it even permits us to retrieve additional information.”
We now have an accurate and real-time control system. A problematic product can be followed and safeguarded with SPC.
We now save a great deal of time as we’re no longer obliged to enter Excel data by hand.
The tools provided by AlisQI support its clients’ Lean Manufacturing practices, delivering considerably lower operational costs for the client.
Gerben de Haan explains: “The client loses less time when processing data, which increases productivity and reduces the amount of rejected goods. And there is no requirement for the client’s organization to manage the package; this is Software as a Service!”
Dousma acknowledges that this makes AlisQI exceptionally competitive: “Weighing up the costs against the benefits, the company certainly delivers an excellent product. We now save a great deal of time as we’re no longer obliged to enter data by hand onto Excel sheets.”
“And with the quality monitoring we’re able to monitor the process closely, which improves quality and safeguards our products throughout the line. And that of course is to the advantage of the entire company.”