SPC/EMI event is a roaring success with record-breaking attendance and an impressive line up of speakers

Adept Scientific were delighted to welcome so many delegates to last week’s SPC/EMI Executive Briefing – new and familiar faces alike served to make this unique gathering of minds a worthwhile and enlightening event.

The day started with a practical exercise delivered by Mr Roland Caulcutt who has extensive experience in the field of industrial statistics. Four teams were chosen to criticise, praise or ignore a sales person whose monthly figures were presented over the course of 4 months. With undertones of Deming’s fabled Red Bead experiment, delegates were shown that their decisions based on raw data often bore no relation to overall process behaviour and their reactions to individual data points didn’t factor in the bigger picture. Simply put – your reactions to individual data points without suitable analysis will always lead you in the wrong direction. Roland finished his session with an excellent overview of the humble control chart which, regardless of the level of experience in the room, proved a useful starting point for everything that followed.

Next we welcomed the Manufacturing Advisory Service who extended the discussion to consider the processes, systems and culture needed to support data-driven decision making. Their speaker, Mr Richard Wild-Jones (an experienced practitioner in Continuous Improvement), described in detail the abundance of short-term thinking which, more often than not, is at odds with the long term objectives for improvement. This can be solved by adopting a standardised model for continuous improvement. Richard rounded off his presentation by recommending the use of hard facts/data to determine cause and effect. There isn’t anything better to support decision making. He also added that to succeed in todayís global market you need to be constantly thinking, how can we do things differently? How can we do things better?

After a short coffee break we heard from Mr Frazer Nicholson, formerly of RioTinto-Alcan, who had implemented real-time process control dashboard software in less than a day at the Lynemouth smelter in Northumbria. Having searched for an off-the-shelf package which was easy to implement, they chose Northwest Analytics because it could monitor multiple process indicators at the same time via user-friendly role-specific dashboards. Frazer detailed how the system had potentially made over £60,000 in savings and was also extended to other areas within the plant. Although the Lynemouth smelter closed in March 2012, Frazer remains employed as an independent consultant and is currently working with the Fort William smelter. Frazer is also available for consultancy work – his website is www.frazersit.co.uk

Next up to the stage was Lloyd Colegrove, Director of Fundamental Problem Solving at Dow Chemical, who gave a hugely enjoyable presentation about the way in which data analysis took place in his organisation. Dow Chemical makes extensive use of NWA software because it can use data from existing systems and put it in front of the right people. There was plenty of sympathetic nodding from delegates who were also looking for a way to access data locked away in legacy systems and unavailable for timely analysis. My favourite comment of the day came from Lloyd who said, “You have already paid for the hardware to collect the information, the data itself is free! It’s your data – use it!”

After a networking lunch, Mr Paul Russell kick started the afternoon session with a lively (and very frank) discussion about the way in which Statistical Process Control had been implemented at Zotefoams. Paul attended Adept’s first quality event back in 2008 as a delegate when they were in the process of sourcing a supplier of SPC software. Ultimately, they chose Northwest Analytical as their preferred vendor and now Zotefoamsí team of data-informed, software-using decision makers has grown from 2 to 25. Paul was keen to share the lessons theyíd learnt while choosing and implementing quality control software. Louis Halvorsen (Chief Technical Officer, Northwest Analytics) remarked that Paul’s presentation was the “best lessons-learnt story that he had ever seen!” This opinion was echoed on other delegatesí feedback forms.

A second presentation from Lloyd Colegrove went into more detail about how NWA Focus EMI had been used at Dow Chemical to empower operators to do something constructive about process variation. EMI has revolutionised the way in which data is used at Dow Chemical, transforming Data into Information, then Knowledge and then ultimately into Wisdom. A process problem at Dow could cost the company dearly, so timely notification of process problems is their primary objective. Lloyd then detailed the way in which Dow had implemented real-time dashboards and suggested ways in which other companies could do the same. This offered inspiration to everyone in attendance, particularly those who were in the early phases of researching SPC.

Having heard about the benefits of SPC and EMI, we were then given a demonstration of the solution by Louis Halvorsen, who discussed the steps needed to implement and deploy the software throughout a plant. Delegates liked the role-specific dashboards and the fact that they could be customised to suit particular job functions from controlling the process on the factory floor to monitoring the company on a plant by plant basis. The day concluded with a demonstration of Northwest Analytics Multivariate SPC module which produces a familiar Shewhart chart with contributory indicators showing which variable is likely to have caused the problem.

All in all, an action-packed and productive day! If you missed our EMI event, why not watch this short Focus EMI presentation? It lasts just 6 minutes and provides a brilliant overview of the key benefits of Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence. The video contains real-life examples plus a compelling testimonial from Dow Chemical’s Lloyd Colegrove (key speaker at our event). All of which demonstrate how Enterprise Manufacturing Analytics help to identify opportunities for process improvement, improve plant efficiency and reduce the cost of goods.


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