KYZEN: Cleaning with Data

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Matties: There's no need for a human intervention.

Forsythe: Right. The system is adding a few mils or a few ounces at a time as needed. Rather than contributing more variation to the overall process, we're decreasing that variation, which, in a perfect world, you'd want a variation of zero for everything, except we know that world doesn't exist. But how do we strive for that? Well, if we can shrink our cleaning variation, that's our piece of the puzzle. That contribution makes over system performance better, each and every minute, and because of that, you almost always get better life and value. It is worth remembering the most common reason things die prematurely is, "Oh, I forgot to make the add, it drifted out the bottom, and then something bad happened."

Matties: And ultimately it goes into the end-product, too.

Forsythe: That's right. Higher quality for the end-user.

Matties: So, when you start looking at the use of data, it's not just data, but automated data.

Forsythe: Let’s take a step back and quickly review how we got here. Back in the beginning of time, the electronics world cleaned with CFC’s. Once the scientific community alerted the world, CFCs were banned. The first technology of choice was something called semi-aqueous; essentially solvent cleaning with a water rinse. That process continues to operate in certain parts of the market, but after just a few years fully aqueous, concentrated products that were mixed with water by the local users became the technology of choice around the world.

KYZEN was a leader in those technology shifts, and it was not long after aqueous products became popular that our customers were needing and asking for automation to handle during the concentrate into the usable cleaning material. That is where the KYZEN PCS came along back in the 90s. we discussed its inner workings already, and while it improved over the years it remained a standalone unit, mostly for in-line conveyorized cleaning systems. Over the past 10 years, assembly houses with smaller cleaning needs, became open to the idea of automated system monitoring. Those systems tend to be less dynamic, and their needs for automated control are less demanding. A variety of monitoring systems came onto the market which like our KYZEN PCS were stand alone, isolated units.

When KYZEN decided to innovate and improve the data experience of our customers, we started with the batch users. This was a new technology development, and the batch system requirements were a great place to start, and the KYZEN Analyst was born. The market acceptance was broad and enthusiastic, and we immediately began work to bring the same data experience to the latest generation of the KYZEN PCS, and KYZEN Data Services was born. As we have discussed, the number of parameters and readings in the in-line cleaning process is measured in dozens, and this required significant development. To achieve that KYZEN now has an inhouse software development team focused on the maintenance and future development of these and other products. Quite a capability for a cleaning materials company.

So long story made short, yes, our systems are as automated as the cleaning system we are monitoring needs for successful operation.

Matties: And the production line operators don’t even have to think about it. That's the great part of that.

Forsythe: Yes, that is right! This approach of decreasing the workload of the operator and their support engineers has always been part of our focus of delivering more and more value to the customer. For example, there was a modest innovation we introduced where we put a “level indication light tower” on the drum of cleaning material. The idea was, when the material level got low the red light went on the drum. It seems pretty basic today, but now, that's a notification you get in an e-mail or a text: "Hey, your drum is getting low. It's time to swap out a new drum." Avoiding the drum unexpectedly finding itself empty, and potentially shutting down the production line is a small piece of the solution but a piece that is easy to get right. BY providing a comprehensive solution of both small and large solution, we help enable the production line to run without interruptions allowing the operators and engineers to focus on other aspects of the production line operations that are not quite as automated.

We do it by decreasing the variation of the process, which is fundamentally good for everybody. We do it by decreasing the number of things they need to keep track of, because we're going to alert them on an exception basis. We do it in this case by also automatically dispensing, so that it dramatically decreases, virtually eliminating any exposure to the cleaning materials and insides of the cleaning machine.

These cleaning systems, especially the bigger ones, have large tanks that can be hot. While opening the cap on the barrel is easy enough, but you're opening the back of the machine can present more challenges and may require the production line to stop while you do so. If we can automatically make that cleaning agent addition without impacting the operator or the production line operation, that's better for everybody. It's a big win from that perspective, and that's why we think the adoption is going so well.

Matties: It's so much value.

Forsythe: Yes, it is. And what do we know about our factory environment today? It's different from 20 or 30 years ago, but the people on the floor have to multitask more and do more things with fewer people. They already work hard, so being more productive critical. The KYZEN PCS and Analyst Data Service enables that productivity gain. By virtually eliminating that “moment” when all the alarms go off and normal operation come to a halt, allowing the automation to tend to the production lines cleaning needs and free the talented staff to do other value-added things.

Matties: Well, congratulations. It sounds like a home run for you guys.

Forsythe: Thank you. The team has done a marvelous job with us.

Matties: Are there any other thoughts that you want to share about this?

Forsythe: We're excited. Development continues. There are new wrinkles and things coming down the road with richer features. That's the beauty of software, when a customer says, "What about this?” and we can say that we can consider it. So, you do get feedback, and you're always looking for some new things that it might do. So maybe over the next months and years there'll be a continuous trend of that stuff. We see this as a long-term play. We're investing in staff and capabilities to have that road laid out before us.

Matties: Great. Again, congratulations.

Forsythe: Thank you.


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