Evaluation of Process and Product Variability

Posted by Robert Hopkins on Aug 7, 2019 7:30:00 AM


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.

Process Monitoring

The process monitoring and verifying methodology has been practiced by Eastman Kodak Company for over twenty-five years across its entire global film manufacturing supply chain and across all scales from R&D to manufacturing. This approach, rooted in some simple ideas, has provided benefits far more than Kodak could have foreseen when it started its journey to Six Sigma manufacturing.  It has:

  • Detected product defects well before laboratory results and in time for us to prevent any further processing downstream in the supply chain,
  • Transformed Kodak's maintenance practices from preventive to predictive for pumps, valves and other components,
  • Raised Kodak's understanding of its existing processes so that plant operations could take proper steps to improve reliability and performance,
  • Improved Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as mean time between failure and first pass yield metrics of established processes after years of stagnant performance on these measures,
  • Provided the clues to allow Kodak to solve production issues that had gone unresolved for years,
  • Provided the answers to after-the fact diagnosis of product defects,
  • Answered questions of why certain product recipes did not scale,
  • Resulted in routine annual savings of $50M due to “good catches” and elimination of non-standard downtimes - a value which doesn’t take into account additional savings realized by solving numerous long-standing problems from time to time.

Analysis Framework

The technology to record and store data has never been easier. We have multiple ways to store manufacturing data either on premise or in the cloud. But the question still and has always been - how do we best digest this recorded data and make sense of it in the context of Kodak's manufacturing operations?

At the root of this problem is the fact that a complete picture of manufacturing encompasses "data" which do not all have a common basis. Time stamped sensor data is collected from machines at different rates, off-line product testing results become available at different times, usually after the fact, and production order and maintenance records have their own unique system of keys and for flexible manufacturing the process itself is not fixed, but changes every time the recipe changes. These data cannot be combined without much manual synchronization, filtering and effort. It’s a level of effort you go through only when a crisis is upon you and your process is producing unacceptable product for unknown reasons!

Ideally, what we are looking for is an automated process that takes these disparate inputs, synchronizes them, and outputs a much smaller set of meaningful parameters produced at the right time so that timely actions can be taken.

To learn more, download and read the full paper, Evaluation of Process and Product Variability at Eastman Kodak.

Topics: Quality, Process Monitor, IT, IIoT

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