A Food-Focused Quality Event

An exclusive SPC event for the food industry is being organised by technical computing specialists Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts) and SPC software developers Northwest Analytical (Portland, Oregon).

Taking place at Hook Norton Brewery, Oxon, on Wednesday 7th October 2009 delegates will see how SPC and continuous process improvement can be used to manage all stages of the food manufacturing process.

This Food-Focused Quality Event will demonstrate proven and emerging methods to minimise risks, improve quality and cut costs.

During the event, there will be…

·    Industry experts sharing their experiences and expertise on new developments in quality systems for the food industry.
·    Customer success stories featuring two of the largest craft brewers in the U.S.
·    Plenty of opportunity to network and swap stories with like-minded professionals.

To book a place on this free event contact Adept’s events coordinator on +44 (0) 203 695 7810 or send an email to info@alfasoft.com

The NWA product suite is supplied and supported in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Nordic countries by Adept Scientific.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers. Full details and contact information for all Adept Scientific international offices are available at www.adeptscience.com; or telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810.

British Energy: Cutting costs and improving performance

Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts) helps British Energy to save money and improve the reliability and flexibility of its Chemistry condition monitoring system using Quality Monitor from Northwest Analytical (NWA) (Portland, Oregon).

Doing its ‘bit’ to fight the credit crunch and combat ever increasing rises in fuel prices, British Energy are very conscious that it’s new monitoring system must be cost effective and meet their rigorous operating standards to make the grade.

Supplying around 18 per cent of the UK’s electricity generating capacity, British Energy were looking for a system that would be capable of running sophisticated analysis programs as well as being financially viable and allow for continual development.  At around one tenth the cost of alternative solutions, Quality Monitor from NWA was the clear solution to replacing their LIMS system.

“As important as the power of the new system,” says Gary Brodt, a contracted systems support engineer within one of the Company’s Chemistry Sections, “was its flexibility and ease of use.  This meant that during system development chemists with little or no database experience could learn enough of the package to make interface modifications in order to deliver a system that exactly matched their day-to-day requirements.”

NWA Quality Monitor is a powerful, dedicated solution for shop floor data collection and statistical process control.  The package allows standardised workflow processes to be built to match the needs of a specific facility, stores data from multiple workstations in a central database and provides live charting and analysis of quality data.  Quality Analyst offers powerful, easy-to-use functionality for data analysis and reporting.

That flexibility continues to pay dividends today; Brodt and his team have continued to make minor modifications to the system since its implementation as more historical data is migrated to the new platform and additional plant signals are added – all with no disruption to users.

Work is now underway on the next phase that will integrate more of NWA Quality Analyst’s capabilities in order to produce bespoke data analysis to allow both plant personnel and corporate staff to gain a rapid, detailed overview of plant performance.

Brodt continued, “Our use of the NWA software from Adept Scientific has brought our data management process into the 21st century by making it possible to capture live data at the source where the data is generated, then analyse the data in the office that is remote to all of the labs.  Monthly reporting has been made more streamlined and training of the use of the system is much easier than any of the other LIMS systems on the market.

“Further development will provide even more improvements to our Statistical Process Control analysis to highlight what part of the plant may be trending towards fault conditions.”

NWA Quality Monitor and NWA Quality Analyst are supplied and supported in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Nordic countries by Adept Scientific.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.  Full details and contact information for all Adept Scientific international offices are available at www.adeptscience.com; or telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810.

The Welsh Blood Service improves quality with SPC

Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts) and the Welsh Blood Service (Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales) are working together to develop their quality processes ensuring their blood products continue to meet tough regulations.

With a remit that includes checking the quality of blood from donors, quality control for blood components and analysis of attributes on third party blood packs, the Welsh Blood Service (WBS) carries major responsibilities. Add to those tasks the analysis of trends, forecasting of instrument failures and cost control, its quality system is understandably under intense scrutiny at all times. For more than ten years WBS has used Northwest Analytical’s (NWA) Quality Analyst, from Adept Scientific, to help monitor its output and product quality.

Quality Analyst is an important part of WBS; it is used not only for regular Statistical Process Control (SPC) but also in forecasting, correlation and setting confidence levels. While most input is manual, out-of-tolerance and out-of-specification flags aid operators to confirm the integrity of the data.

Michelle Evans, Head of Quality Assurance Laboratory, commented that not only has Quality Analyst provided a solution but has given her department a degree of confidence in planning new initiatives.

“Like most laboratories, we are always looking to push the boundaries and NWA’s software has allowed us to do just that. Our SPC was pretty basic but we’re now able to work on splitting out features to see more clearly what is happening and using techniques such as Cpk and regression, measuring the statistical shift away from our ideal values.

“Quality Analyst has given us the motivation to develop processes and staff, allowed all of us to do more, more effectively and continues to function without problems.”

NWA Quality Monitor and NWA Quality Analyst are supplied and supported in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Nordic countries by Adept Scientific.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

SPC demonstrates best practice

SPC Day April 2008In a joint event held on 23rd April 2008, Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts) and Northwest Analytical (Portland, Oregon) demonstrated how Quality Monitor and Quality Analyst helps companies to achieve the very best from their quality systems and production processes.

Delegates from across the UK attended the SPC Best Practice and Quality Systems Day held at the Letchworth Hall Hotel. The agenda was packed and included briefings from Northwest Analytical (NWA), developers of a suite of dedicated SPC software, who demonstrated some key developments to future software, and customers who presented their real-life case studies.

Louis Halvorsen, Chief Technical Officer, Northwest Analytical, said: “It is very important to us that our customers receive the very best service and advice from NWA and our partners. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to meet with them and share SPC ‘best practice’. Customer feedback is essential if we are to continue to provide the very best in quality analytic solutions”.

The customer presentations played a huge role in sharing this information through their experiences with the software.

British Gypsum told delegates how NWA’s Quality Monitor and Quality Analyst programs have improved the process control of plasterboard production at their Kirkby Thore plant; with a planned system roll-out across the Company in the near future.

The National Blood Service showed how their implementation of Quality Monitor and Quality Analyst products are helping them achieve prescribed quality levels.

A welcome extra case study to the proceedings was British Energy who discussed their experiences as they identified and implemented Quality Monitor as their tool for collecting and analysing chemical and laboratory information.

Delegates shared experiences and top tips throughout the day which concluded with two training sessions entitled: “Automate your SPC reporting with Quality Analyst run files” and; “Integrating Quality Analyst with database systems”.

Dave Woodward, Senior Technical Support Specialist, Adept Scientific, commented: “The day was a huge success and the delegates went away with an increased knowledge of how automated SPC systems can really enhance their manufacturing processes, increase productivity and customer satisfaction”.

About NWA Quality Monitor

NWA Quality Monitor represents a powerful, configurable single solution for all your plant-floor quality monitoring needs. The software enables you to standardise workflow procedures, automate data collection, and provide real-time SPC feedback throughout your operation, all in an off-the-shelf, PC-based package.

About NWA Quality Analyst

NWA Quality Analyst has long been the SPC/SQC software of choice for quality management professionals. It provides a simple, intuitive means of highlighting and charting process data, so you can analyse trends, share process information with colleagues, managers, suppliers and customers, and develop strategies to improve and maintain quality.

NWA Quality Monitor and NWA Quality Analyst are supplied and supported in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Nordic countries by Adept Scientific.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers. Full details and contact information for all Adept Scientific international offices are available at www.adeptscience.com; or telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810.

National Blood Service maintains quality with NWA SPC and analysis software

Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts) and Northwest Analytical’s (Portland, Oregon) Quality Monitor and Quality Analyst products are helping The National Blood Service to achieve prescribed quality levels and protect its reputation.

With 15 regional centres and a worldwide reputation, the National Blood Service (NBS) keeps quality and consistency at the top of its agenda. A surprisingly large number of different products are supplied by the service and users expect the properties of each to be the same, time after time and regardless of which centre has produced it. Two Northwest Analytical programs, NWA Quality Analyst and NWA Quality Monitor, help to protect the integrity of the service and its output.

As part of the NHS, The National Blood Service is responsible for collecting, testing, processing, storing and issuing 2.1 million donations of blood from around the country. The products processed by the service include blood, blood components, products made from blood and tissues and these are made available throughout England and North Wales. Its work includes research into the use and safety of blood products, as well as advising and providing clinical support to hospitals. Education and training also form part of the NBS remit.

The provision of safe blood products for NHS patients demands an array of testing and quality control procedures. At its blood centres, NBS measures more than 30 different parameters, including red cell count, ratio of white cells to plasma and the incidence of various constituents. Sampling ranges from 1% to 100%, depending on batch quantity and the parameter being tested. For the most part, data is input manually though bar coding is used on product scanners. Standards and parameters used by the service are laid down in the ‘Red Book’ HMSO publication and governed by EU regulations.

The Bristol Centre has its own copy of NWA Quality Monitor which is used to record the data. “Almost all of our quality data is entered manually and, with live data, there is potential for accidental alteration of information,” says Peter Cheesley of NBS. “However, with the latest version of Quality Monitor, the security means that data is protected. Another advantage of the software is that out-of-specification situations are flagged up on the data screen, preventing poor data being recorded and alerting us to any trends that may affect the quality of our products.”

With its flexible data collection capability and real-time acquisition, Quality Monitor is ideal for any processing or production facility. The cost-effective software integrates easily with other data systems and includes a full-screen ‘visual designer’ and wizard-based configuration for simple setup. Its sister program, Quality Analyst, provides a powerful and flexible SPC charting and analysis solution, analysing data and presenting it simply with easy-to-understand graphics.

Using a series of data entry screens in Quality Monitor, designed by NBS staff, data is presented consistently and can be used both locally and accessed from a centralised database. SPC and various analyses are then run using Quality Analyst.

NWA Quality Analyst brings another dimension to NBS’s capability, allowing production of capability reports and comparative analyses. The software also keeps tabs on laboratory and processing equipment; for instance, highlighting the drifting of analyser readings from trends analysis.

The early pick-up of trends is vital to the work of NBS. One example of this, explains Peter Cheesley, is in the centrifuging of blood, “When a centrifuge starts to slow down, it will affect the cell count or proportion of plasma in a given blood product, Quality Analyst shows up the trend before the occurrence of out-of-specification and means that blood is not wasted or scrapped.”

Peter Cheesley is more than satisfied with Quality Monitor and Analyst, “The NWA software has proved simple to use but sufficiently powerful to cover almost all of our quality needs, saving time and protecting the quality of our output.” As with any software, the package extends beyond what comes in the box; “We have always found the support for these products to be friendly and timely, the people at Adept are really good to deal with.”

New Quality Monitor 2.4

NWA Quality Monitor 2.4 gives manufacturers powerful, configurable software for plant-floor data collection and SPC charting in an off-the-shelf package. Quality Monitor has increased functionality making it the single solution for plant-floor SPC.

Uniform Solution

Using just one software package workflow procedures can be standardised, data
collection automated and real-time SPC feedback provided throughout the
operation.

Quality Monitor enables all plant
floor workstations use the same core software with task-specific configurations
for each application.

Operator interface and chart formats can be standardised and the context
sensitive, on-line help system can support standard operating procedures (SOPs)
and simplify meeting quality assurance and vendor certification program
requirements.

What’s new in NWA Quality Monitor 2.4

  • Updated charting and report generation.
  • Database-standard date/time formats and new supporting calculation
    functions.
  • Actions and functions performed ‘on startup’ and ‘on exit’.
  • Additional database connectivity capabilities enabling seamless integration
    with NWA Quality Information Server to deliver quality system solutions.

Cost-Effective

Cost-effective in applications ranging from single-user workstations to
integration with plant wide information systems,
href=”/products/qands/monitor/”>Quality Monitor
is inexpensive to implement
and support and is easy to install and configure.

Getting Started

The starting point is NWA Quality
Monitor
Designer which combines a full-screen visual designer with
wizard-based set-up tools. This provides an easy-to-use configuration
environment capable of meeting the most demanding data collection
requirements.

Easy to Set Up

Customised data entry screens are built using a familiar drag-and-drop,
point-and-click interface allowing easy creation of complete User Interface
designs.

Easy to Use

Flexible design capabilities allow the user-interface to match the
requirements of the item being tested and the user’s capabilities. Data
collection and analysis can be standardised to match SOPs and customer
requirements.

Easy to Integrate

Quality Monitor is designed to be the plant-floor test station component of
the manufacturing or process information system.

Integration features include:

  • Direct data connection to any ODBC-compliant database
  • Local and distributed alarming
  • Interfaces with the most popular MES, CIM, ERP and LIMS systems
  • Automatic recovery from network failure
  • Easily shares data with NWA’s family suite of analysis and reporting
    products.

Easy to Interface

Quality Monitor comes with extensive
pre-configured device interface including most electronic scales, gauges,
multiplexers and a wide range of specialised devices.

Adding device input to a Quality
Monitor
data entry screen is usually done with a few mouse clicks. In
addition, device and port configuration tools provide easy creation of new
device interfaces and solves communication problems.

Introducing NWA Quality Monitor 2.3

Now there’s a brand-new version of NWA Quality Monitor – NorthWest Analytical’s complete factory-floor statistical process control (SPC) software.

Despite its power and flexibility, Quality Monitor is not complicated to configure or use – it’s simple to set up; straight forward to link to measurement devices; easy to integrate with corporate database and information systems; and extremely easy to operate. The latest version (v.2.3) builds on these key attributes to bring users even more capability and flexibility to plant floor quality control, much enhanced database compatibility, improved data sharing, greatly extended alarm functions, more convenient data views and more calculation capability than ever before. That’s why NWA Quality Monitor 2.3 is the first choice for factory floor SPC.

New features for version 2.3 include:

Ability to write data to multiple databases
Quality Monitor 2.3 will now write any combination of fields to any combination of ODBC database tables. For example, measurement data, defect counts, and assignable causes can now be written to separate database tables. The database write function also supports ‘normalisation’ and Quality Monitor will automatically structure the data when writing to normalised tables.

Ability to read information from databases
Quality Monitor will now automatically read information from a database before data is entered into a new record. This function can be used to load descriptive information about a sample, data for calculations, etc. The data can be read from ODBC databases or Quality Analyst DAT files.

Ability to read specifications from database
Specifications can now be automatically read from ODBC databases or disk files when a Quality Monitor screen is first loaded or before data is entered into a new record. This allows product specifications to be stored in a central database, and also provides support for collecting data for multiple products using a single Quality Monitor Data Set.

New ‘Workstation Link’
Quality Monitor now provides direct support for automatically sharing data and other information among multiple Quality Monitor Workstations. Data collected on one workstation can now be automatically sent to another as soon as it is entered. Typical uses include sending product weights collected at one workstation to be used as beginning weights at a workstation further down a process line, or providing key measurement or defect data from where it is collected to where it may be used. The data can be transmitted through disk files or ODBC databases.

New “Quick view” of data
Recent data records can now be displayed in a pop-up window in spreadsheet form. This supplies a historical context while viewing the current record.

New calculation functions
Calculations may now include ‘string’ functions (extracting portions of text strings) and logical operations (IF, OR, XOR, NOT, ELSE, and WHEN).

Controllable Window size and location
The size and location of various Workstation windows can now be pre-defined and locked, including the data entry screen, graphics display, help, etc.

Set alarms on Pattern Rule and Calculated SPC limit violations
Quality Monitor will now alarm in real-time on Pattern Rules and SPC limits that are automatically recalculated. Prior versions did not alarm on Pattern Rule violations and required fixed SPC limits for real-time alarms.

Direct Modification of HED file
Quality Monitor will now directly modify the Quality Analyst ‘Header’ (HED) file, writing parameters such as product specifications.

Dynamic picture control
Pictures displayed on data entry screens can now be linked to field content such as product codes, allowing the picture to change based on the information being entered.

WAV (sound) file support for alarms
Quality Monitor now supports the use of WAV file sound generation as an alarm action.

New “On alarm” functions
Quality Monitor can now perform additional tasks when alarm conditions have been detected (specifications, SPC limit, or pattern rule violations). These new functions includedisplaying SPC charts, executing Run Files, or launching external programs (distribute alarm messages, activate or de-activate equipment, etc.).

Generate Email Alarms Automatically
Quality Monitor workstations with email capability can now send pre-defined email messages triggered by alarm conditions (specifications, SPC limit, or pattern rule violations).

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

SPC Inspires Global Quality Culture for Multinational Giant

Mounting pressure for product consistency and quality and a mandate to reduce costs spurred container manufacturer Crown Cork and Seal Co. Inc. (Philadelphia, PA) to institute quality measures that could be applied across the board throughout its manufacturing sites around the world. The fully appreciate the size and importance of this task, consider the company’s business climate.

Crown Cork and Seal, one of the world’s largest suppliers of beverage containers, is an $8 billion manufacturing company with operations in 247 plants in 49 countries serving global customers like Coca-Cola Co. (Atlanta, GA) and Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (St. Louis, MO). Customers expect a beverage container purchased in Taipei to be the same as one purchased in Chicago, Geneva, or Toronto. The challenges and costs of producing identical products in plants around the world are staggering and daunting.

With quality-control software from NorthWest Analytical (NWA), cans produced at Crown’s Cabreuva, Brazil plant will be exactly like the cans produced in Chicago, Geneva, or Toronto.

Add to this equation the fact that the container industry is competitive in terms of cost. As a high-volume, commodity-producing industry, profit margins are thin. Any increase in margin is important for the bottom line, and profitability depends on efficiency and waste reduction.

“Our industry is also competitive in terms of quality,” says David MacBurnie, vice president of world-class performance/total quality. “There is constant pressure to do more with less [for example, to make cans with thinner materials without compromising quality].” He says customers’ expectations continue to rise; they now require zero-defect products, low prices, and high quality. “This is challenging, because as you speed up equipment and reduce materials, you also increase process variability, which can lead to defects.”

A related aspect of this quality requirement—producing consistent cans around the world—places enormous pressure on the company to reduce variation across many manufacturing facilities. This requires that quality must be addressed on a company-wide basis, according to MacBurnie. Some of the most important employees in this effort are the line operators, who must continually make decisions about keeping the process in control. This requires training, not only to overcome fear and resistance to change but also to teach statistical concepts that can be applied to line operations.

“Our strategy for meeting these challenges is to implement a company-wide quality standardisation program, using the NWA Quality Analyst [for off-line statistical quality control] and NWA Quality Monitor [for on-line statistical process control] from Northwest Analytical.” Crown Cork and Seal has started creating a worldwide, multinational user group to solve statistical process control (SPC) problems, based on NWA’s two major software suites. This strategy can be applied up and down an entire supply chain.
The container company is using Northwest Analytical’s products to accomplish three goals, according to MacBurnie:

1) TO REDUCE PROCESS VARIATION: The Northwest Analytical software packages allow Crown to examine the process and distinguish between natural and assignable variation. Assignable variation means that the process is out of statistical control and needs to be fixed. Reducing that variation means that the company can produce containers with less waste and rework, which helps the bottom line. It also means that Crown can reliably meet customer specifications.

2) TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE PROCESS IS CAPABLE OF MEETING CUSTOMER SPECIFICATIONS: These specifications are set by customers and Crown Cork and Seal engineers. Neither group has complete knowledge of what the manufacturing lines can meet. So when new specs are required, Crown engineers use the software to determine whether those specs can be met with existing configurations, staff, and equipment.

3) TO REPORT TO CUSTOMERS: Crown’s customers demand proof that the company is meeting specs and employs a comprehensive SPC/SQC program. The software allows Crown to provide its customers with charts that clearly show how Crown is meeting specs and quality goals.

Standardising on NWA’s products throughout the Crown organisation allows the company to meet several critical goals, the first of which is the achievement of economies of scale. “Standardising on NWA software allows us to develop one quality training program that we can implement with all our plants,” MacBurnie explains. “Our trainers can go from plant to plant without having to relearn or adapt the training program to fit different software. In addition, their ability to teach SPC is enhanced because they know NWA inside and out. It allows them to focus on helping people to use the software more effectively.”

“In addition, a shared language about SPC helps form a problem-solving user base among plants,” MacBurnie says. As more people learn the software and apply it to Crown operations, these users can talk with each other about what they are doing. This internal network is helping people implement more changes at the plant level. Fellow users at other plants face similar problems, so their insights are more helpful than advice from corporate headquarters would be. “This is incredibly important when the plants are essentially making the same products and need to use their resources wisely,” MacBurnie says.

Given the same platform of quality programs, Crown employees can move from plant to plant without having to learn new procedures. Everything is the same: the software, the charts, and the specifications. Also, with this common language and procedures about SPC, corporate-level management can more easily compare results across all facilities.

In the area of cost control, not only does the NWA software reduce waste, but it also cuts costs by providing one SPC training program and materials used in all of the Crown facilities. “This program offers enormous potential in terms of cost savings,” says Bob Truitt, executive vice president of operations for Crown Cork and Seal’s North America Metals Division. “It allows Crown to create centralised quality expertise and enables us to reap benefits more quickly from our SPC program.”

Reductions in the time required to produce line information on charts have also saved money. Before implementing the software, Crown engineers could slash the time it takes to produce setup evaluations for quality purposes whenever there was a changeover on a given line. “Prior to the charting techniques of the NWA software, the collection of data and charting manually would take up to eight hours before we could get a line in operation,” explains Jim Arends, senior manager of SPC at Crown. “That time has been reduced drastically to around 30 minutes, and we do these evaluations fairly frequently in some plants.”

Implementation of the NWA software throughout the Crown organisation is an ongoing activity, Arends says. The software is operating in some plants, about 50 so far, throughout the U.S. and Canada, and installations are planned for Crown plants in South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Crown’s European operations will also eventually share in the benefits of the NWA software.

QC Package Features Ease of Use

By implementing Northwest Analytical’s NWA Quality Analyst and NWA Quality Monitor in a company-wide quality-standardisation program, Crown Cork and Seal gains significant benefits, including ease of use, technical stringency, and software adaptability. Training the line operators is a big challenge for the company, but the software is easy to learn and use; it also makes the statistical calculations automatic. Operators can now learn to read a control chart, and they can know whether their process is out of control and whether they should adjust it or leave it alone. And they can do that without learning complex math.

By providing technical stringency, the software allows Crown to do all levels of analysis, from simple control charts to advanced statistics. Thus, the software meets the needs of the line operators as well as the manufacturing engineers and quality managers. The software is also very flexible and easy to customise to meet the company’s needs.

Taken from an article written by James F. Manji

NWA Quality Analyst and NWA Quality Monitor are supplied and supported in the UK by Adept Scientific plc, Amor Way, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 1ZA; telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810, fax +44 (0) 203 695 7819, email info@alfasoft.com; or see Adept’s World Wide Web site http://www.adeptscience.co.uk/. Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

For the time being we are unable to offer the following product ranges although we are currently working hard to increase the number of products we can offer in the future. Please contact us to talk about alternative products that we may be able to offer you.