Tightening Process and Quality Control Leads to Increased Product Quality
This statement is exemplified best using a story from Baker Refractories located in Notts, England. Baker Refractories is continuously searching for ways to improve quality control while reducing operating costs, like most companies today.
Baker Refractories primarily produces high temperature kiln and furnace linings from various materials that are processed on site. The particle size of these materials is critical to the specifications of the end product. A material with a large particle size resists abrasion, but too many large particles in the mixture leads to a segregated product. However, fine particles give a better appearance, but too much fine material leads to problems with bulk density and cracking during the heat process.
There in lies the challenge for quality control at Baker’s---what is the optimum particle size for their mix? They answer this question through continuous on site testing using standard sieve analysis.
Many recent advances have been made in test sieve quality and shaker design; however, little thought has been given to the labor intensive, slow manual process of measuring the weight and percent retained in each sieve and recording the results--until now.
Baker Refractories is using a new sieve analyzer from CSC Scientific to revolutionize this forgotten area of particle size testing. The unit has a self-contained scale, digital readout and computer memory inside a rugged steel case designed to be used in production or in the lab.
To perform a sieve analysis, Baker’s operators run one of their standard sieve tests using a shaker. Then, they choose the corresponding sieve stack from the sieve analyzer’s memory. The analyzer prompts to weigh each full sieve and the user places it on the weight pan of the analyzer. The analyzer records the full weight of the sieve and calculates the weight and percent retained of the sample on the spot - no need to reweigh or calculate percentages. Operator error, possible at this point, is instantly removed by using the sieve analyzer.
The analyzer’s ability to store ten sieve stacks and recall them at any time has proven to be very useful for David Greaves, QC Coordinator of Baker Refractories.
“We are now able to run two sieve shakers at the same time. What used to take an hour now only takes just over half an hour. It’s ten stack memory means that we could not have just two, but ten sieve shakers running at once, and only the CSC Sieve Analyzer would be needed to cope with them all. To do this with our old system would have meant buying an extra set of scales for each sieve shaker.”
A company with high production volumes may be running sieve tests around the clock. Using equipment that saves time and increases accuracy results in lowering operating costs and increasing product quality.
David Greaves also comments that by “using the CSC Sieve Analyzer, they have introduced an even greater level of consistency and accuracy to our testing.”
For many companies, a standard sieve test is the only method available to produce a consistent product. As requirements have become more stringent for traceability (e.g. ISO 9000 and QS 9000) within the manufacturing process and with suppliers, the ability of equipment to interface with computers is essential. The CSC Sieve Analyzer allows the user to monitor and record individual sieve test results using a computer. With greater emphasis on quality of processing, the CSC Sieve Analyzer goes a long way to address some of the limitations of sieve analysis while giving new consistency and accuracy to a test that is, and will continue to be, relied upon world wide.