This year, I spent Manufacturing Day by travelling to Chicago with Optimation VP of Engineering Wendy Smith, to support her as she was officially recognized as an Influential Woman in Manufacturing by Putnam Media along with 26 other women working in industry. The luncheon, awards ceremony and panel on supporting inclusive workplaces in manufacturing were all held at MxD, a digital manufacturing research and development facility that facilitates experimentation, simulation and training for emerging technologies.
On October 8, in recognition of Hydrogen’s standard atomic weight (1.008) we pause for a moment and consider the facets of the most abundant element in the universe. Element #1 on our periodic table, and the lightest of all elements. It is #1 for many reasons.
October 4th is National Manufacturing Day. In the United States, National Manufacturing Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday of October. Companies of all sizes will participate in events for this year’s National Manufacturing Day. There is a great future in manufacturing, and this is a way to recognize and promote it. Over the last few decades there has been a decline in US manufacturing and in New York State the decline has been even greater. Rochester, NY, where Optimation is located, has seen large reductions in employment, driven in part by the massive declines of huge manufacturers like Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb. In response to this, the both the federal government and the state government have made efforts to encourage and incentivize smaller manufactures in a variety of industries. One main focus of their efforts is workforce development.
Photo Credit: Netflix
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about a really neat project that we were doing at Eastman Business Park, the old Kodak Park Campus in Rochester, NY. Netflix was going to film a series that would rival American Ninja Warrior only with high performance cars and expert drivers on challenging obstacle courses. It is dubbed “American Ninja Warrior meets the Fast and the Furious.”
Around the world, manufacturers use processing plants to produce a nearly unlimited number of products. In many cases these processes are built in small, modular units either as skids or as modular container-based systems.
As a process and product engineer for a fortune 100 company that manufactured high value chemical products, my job involved analysis of a tremendous amount of process and product information.
We have articulated in past posts some of the benefits of configuring processing equipment in skid form. Generally, these advantages have to do with efficient execution, that is that a skid that supports a specific processing step is more thoroughly debugged at the OEM factory, installs quicker and is turned over to production faster with minimal interruptions.
Skid systems solve a wide range of problems for many industries. Even waste processing in a hazardous industry, like one that handles radioactive waste, can be aided by a skid system. This project profile is an example of how a modular fabrication & assembly process can be applied to solve a difficult problem.
At one point, Kodak continuously evaluated over two hundred thousand process and product parameters for all production orders in the worldwide film supply chain. The parameters being evaluated included: key process parameters, such as chemical reactor feed flows and temperatures; product release parameters, such as number of defects in a 10,000 ft master roll of coated film, and the condition of critical process components, such as pump vibration level, heat exchanger approach temperatures, motor current draws and control valve positions. Automatic alerts are generated to alert maintenance when parts need to be replaced or operations when a product just made needs to be held and not released to downstream operations. How did Kodak accomplish this level of aggressive monitoring in a global supply chain with flexible manufacturing systems and thousands of product recipes? In short, the answer is Process Monitor.
One of our core competencies at Optimation is in the development, design, fabrication and improvement of web-based, or roll-to-roll, processes. Optimation owns and operates a web development laboratory – we call it the Media Conveyance Facility (MCF). Many things you use on a regular basis are produced on a web, from aluminum foil to the thin glass used in cell phones.