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HEXPOL's Continuous Process Improvement Model – Components 5 through 8

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HEXPOL’s eight-component Continuous Process Improvement model, including components five through eight addressed here, aligns its process with the customer’s process. See the Continuous Process Improvement from HEXPOL article for an overview of HEXPOL’s CPI model.

Technical Visit Reports

The primary objective of HEXPOL’s technical visit and follow-up report is to make sure the HEXPOL process and product (rubber compound) align with the customer’s process to achieve product specification requirements. It also helps to establish a point of standardization in material design. To ensure this, HEXPOL conducts a thorough evaluation to create the Technical Visit Report. 

Among rubber compounders, these periodic visits are unique to HEXPOL. The field technical services team conducts confidential on-site reviews, observing and analyzing attributes such as equipment, operator activities and production processes. HEXPOL observes and analyzes these defined characteristics, or attributes, to ensure that the equipment and production process will be capable of producing the end product, and that the operators have been fully trained in the process.

Observations compare what should or could happen with what actually does happen. Following each visit, the results are summarized in a report that provides improvement objectives and clear action items. Underlying problems and root causes of issues are identified and recommended responses are listed to solve problems and help customers with necessary adjustments. HEXPOL provides continuous follow-up assistance.

Chemistry Modifications

There are a variety of reasons for necessary modifications to a formulation. The formulation may still meet the specification, but changes in the process, a discontinuation of raw materials, lack of proper equipment maintenance, new equipment, or new specs for the same compound are a few reasons for either new chemistry development or formula modification. 

This verification step, the HEXPOL team working with the customer, examines whether expectations are met. Have we correctly identified needs and attributes of a formulation? Are we meeting them in such a way that under natural variation, which occurs within the processes and within materials, the formulation still delivers the required capability?

HEXPOL chemists work with the field service team and customer to adjust formulations, align processes (HEXPOL & customer) and solve problems.

Set Process Levels 

At this point, the formulation is perfected, the process is adjusted as necessary, and the customer is ready to proceed with full production. Throughout HEXPOL’s Continuous Process Improvement cycle, information is gathered in the previous steps to help establish standard operating procedures and work instructions, both within HEXPOL and within our customers’ facilities. HEXPOL helps ensure that the process is operating within established parameters by tracking fitness for use – those attributes measured within our manufacturing processes – to provide a high level of quality assurance when our customer introduces products (compounds) into their manufacturing processes.

Process levels are set and, when production begins, the HEXPOL team works with the customer to ensure the process is operating within established parameters. The team tracks: 

  • Quality: fitness for use
  • Productivity: run rates, cycle times, reduced downtime, hours of production
  • Performance: attributes and characteristics of products

The HEXPOL team works with the customer to continually evaluate performance attributes to ensure desired characteristics. We work as partners with our customers to put fundamental and sound principles in place to achieve continuous process improvement and performance.

Continuous Tech Support

HEXPOL’s use of continuous process improvement principles can bring strategic, operational, supply chain, and financial benefits to its customers.

Strategic – Looking at the strategic aspect of our customers’ markets, whether new or existing, we ask basic but important questions critical to their success and the quality of their products.

Operational – We acquire operational knowledge of our customers’ processes so that we can better serve them. 

Supply Chain – This entails looking at the extended value stream and the efficiency of moving materials, including the HEXPOL value stream, our customer’s value stream, and the end user’s value stream. 

Financial – Analyzing key financial performance indicators to satisfy quality and productivity objectives that support the business for the long term. Improving finances is accomplished by creating value.

The HEXPOL Field Technical Services Group is always available to its customers, providing timely on-site tech support services to ensure that each customer’s evolving needs are met.

Click here to download a copy of HEXPOL’s Continuous Process Improvement: How to Improve Process Quality, Productivity & Performance white paper.

Toyota Way Fieldbook: A Practical Guide tor Implementing Toyota’s 4Ps (Jeffrey K. Liker and Davie Meier)

Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer (Jeffrey K. Liker)

Copyright © 2004 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 

Are you attending the International Elastomer Conference October 10-13? Stop by HEXPOL's booth, #640, to inquire about their Continuous Process Improvement.