My Insights to Windshield Manufacturers Failures
It seems that 2013 year over all seems to continue in challenging economical environment for the safety glass industry as whole. In few words; architectural glass the building project are perhaps not globally as they were before the recession. Automotive side continues to suffer especially here in Europe where new car sales in Europe declined greatly, but at the time of writing this in flight from Istanbul to Helsinki I read from the Wall Street Journal that the "April Car Data to lift European Car Makers", the data in the news piece shows 2.3 percentage increase on April for EU area compared to previous year. The data implicates that "the 5 and half year slump in new car demand is bottoming out". Which is of course is piece of good news for the car industry and related industries and from our perspective car glass makers. I hear that heavy commercial vehicle side is doing slower and for example some of the leading western manufacturers are starting re-forming negotiations. Some of our ARG focused customers report doing great –must be added here that in the beginning of the recession in fact some flexible ARG manufacturers capable to deliver short series and timely deliveries grew rapidly.
Finally there are special products, niche market products such BRG, white goods, decorative, and so on, and countries/areas that are still “booming”. Now that's for my short safety glass market review, I have not had enough time study it and must admit not knowing details on this safety glass market situation as well I perhaps should. However what I know better is the manufacturing side and what we in SGE and I personally in field have been witnessing during the hectic beginning of the year. Regardless the market challenges in safety glass industry we in SGE are seeing increasing demand for our expert services. The soon to be full 4 years hard work is starting to create results. We have maintained and continue follow Zero Customer Reclamation rate and the "word to mouth" has therefore probably also had a big impact.
I have been privileged to have possibility to work with very challenging projects in mainly in Asia but also South-America and Middle-East. These projects have corresponded with the experiences with majority of the other client cases I have worked and I will try to summarize these things here in this blog writing to the readers so that they hopefully learn something new and can make or propose changes internally.
Typically what I find is that relationships between individual process details to end results or defect creation are often completely unrealized. Sometimes the basic relationships of pre-processing to bending and bending to lamination are understood but the most in-depth details often over looked or unknown. For example gapping of glass pairs can be tested with water test –yes true- but will it measure a value or just identify gapping? We identification is of-course valuable also, but measurements are often what we need to really dig in deep and eliminate challenges rapidly. Required inspection tooling, for measurements and quality inspections are not known or available in-house. Finally mold tooling ( bending irons) engineering relation to bending results are not understood and this causes various complications. These situations result to various conditions such as for example:
1. Over limit Process Variation
2. Pitting distortion (both dark and bright)
3. Reflection distortion
4. Lamination defects: bubbles, ice-flowers, re-autoclaving
5. Poor pre-process performance
All these in unison result to un acceptably low yield levels <96%, normally deadly below 90%- which for example in OEM production starting to eat the small margins and also attracting the OEM customers to audit further what is happening as it will be seen as increase in their delivered glass part defect ppm rations.
Seeking cost savings from material use, increasing efficiency by flow rates but also waste levels is required to remain competitive with increasing energy, material and wage costs. In this point when talking of material costs I have been witnessing a lot of poor quality float glass causing costs for manufacturers. Some have to inspect more manually and still some defected float passes through and the one with automatic lines suffer from scratching these samples and making reclamations to float suppliers. Our microscopic studies have also confirmed great variance in the homogeneity of different float manufacturers -this so even with two world class manufacturers compared. In this particular occasion we found inclusions sand signs of contamination in the float tank.
Due to these experiences working on field and training personally this year close 100 individuals, we have taken seriously our client service requirements and updated our training materials for example for pre-processing to a 200 page package, lamination to 180 page package and sag bending process at approximately 200 pages. To ensure right inspection conditions we have also a Quality Inspection Training Package which explains and demonstrates with modern inspection lights we carry to site training's for different type of inspection conditions needed to detect defected parts easily and efficiently and to ensure zero-glass part processing mentality.
My blog posts 10-commandments in relation to this topic
1. Continuous Improvement: study analyze, follow up, daily production staff meetings enabling fast actions
2. Training your personnel management, supervisors, shift heads and also operators -operators especially when new working instruction is going to be implemented. People will better follow if they are taken a part of the decision making and trained why certain revisions are required
3. Management from all levels, process engineers should roll out to floor level, talk to people, listen to their problems and challenges and promise to do what you can to improve these things together.
4. Process engineers when you study monitor, you must be a part of the production when the test are conducted to make sure it is done correctly and secondly to ensure that you will learn something that the data alone will not teach you. When you monitor each move operators make when they carry out their tasks you will learn great details that can lead you to great improvements.
5. Collect Real Production data to be followed in the daily and weekly meetings to immediately take action when problems occur
6. Production planning and maintenance must work as a team and conduct Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). Studies show that if preventative maintenance is not done the losses are much greater than doing maintenance only "when there is time". For example a cutting wheel replacement cost can be 5 euros and cost of two waste pieces due to cutting wheel issue at cutting stage is more than the cost of replacing the cutting wheel when needed.
7. Correct tooling design will not only provide cost savings but improves quality and new model introduction periods for furnace works. For example: amount of metal=electrical consumption in heating and cooling. Two stage release mold=shorter NMI work time at furnace and better final quality. Tooling design features and materials provide cost savings on maintenance
8. Do everything possible to create team work attitude to that is not limited between different shifts, departments. or level of seniority
9. Invest to training and development -even during the slow times this then makes you are ready to answer demand with skilled team and efficient operations once the recession ends
10. Do not mislead yourself thinking that your company knows everything needed. I will quote Bertrand Russell, from Mortals and Others 1: American Essays 1931-35: “The fundamental cause of trouble in the world is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Arrogance is a killer in any company general attitude and will disable improvement and growth to real specialist and winners. Real experts acknowledge and openly admit that they learn new every day. In glass manufacturing processes there are so many different variables that there rarely is only on single right method to follow as I usually put it “there is so many different ways to skin a cat”.
Following these "commandments" will lead you much further than the one not following them and incase you need some support I will ad that today our team combined expertise of our fiend experts is over 100 years of combined experience from different processes. We have dedicated experts for each process; cutting, grinding, drilling, washing, printing, separating powdering, bending or tempering (both bent and tempered or flat), lamination, quality controls, production management: Lean, Six Sigma, TPM and Work Safety. This enables us to conduct full production line audits and performance acceleration’s projects that take your company a leap forward with quality, yield, efficiency and cost efficiency.
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