HEXPOL's eight-component Continuous Process Improvement model, including the first four components 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.
HEXPOL's Continuous Process Improvement Model – Components 1 through 4
Understanding how the rubber compound will be used goes a long way in ensuring that the formulation will deliver performance requirements of the end product.
Working with the customer, HEXPOL combines its knowledge in material science, including the selection of the appropriate raw materials, designing the formulation or recipe that contains those raw materials, and leveraging the expansive reach that HEXPOL has in working with suppliers of raw materials throughout the globe.
The HEXPOL Field Technical Services team works with the customer to review and determine:
- Specifications/Physical Requirements – To design products that meet performance requirements and fulfill defined applications.
- End Use – It is ideal to gain an understanding of the end product's specific application, from the compounder's customer and, if possible, from the customer's customer.
- Physical Forms of Compounded Shapes – Defining physical forms: Molded, Extruded, Slab, Strip, etc., determines what is needed for downstream processing.
- Customer Process for Curing – The customer's process for curing – molded, extruded, etc. – is also considered to provide the right design for the downstream work of aligning the process to these product attributes.
This information helps HEXPOL chemists and technical specialists develop formulations with the properties needed for the application.
Figures 4 & 5
Knowledge & Resources
HEXPOL field technical service representatives are among the best in the world. They have extensive rubber industry experience with in-depth technical and process knowledge. Together, they have seven U.S. patents and seven foreign patents for chemistry, material design, and polymer bonding technology. Along with this knowledge base, HEXPOL has extensive resources to draw from, including a comprehensive range of existing formulations and the expertise to develop custom formulations when called for. The company has access to key suppliers around the world to bring quality raw materials and value to customers.
The variety of HEXPOL capabilities – from sales and field technical service to product development – allows us to assemble a team that understands the market in which our customer is seeking to participate.
Formulation & Testing
Using information gathered during Application Definition, HEXPOL determines if a custom formulation, an existing HEXPOL formulation, or a customer recipe is appropriate for the application. In addition to the customer processes and technical specifications addressed above, HEXPOL uses its data base formulary to leverage data retrieval, optimizing recipe selection against applications and specifications in the market. In addition to customer processes and technical specifications, our team considers cost effectiveness and how raw material selection affects formulation development. Working with polymer suppliers, carbon black suppliers, and a variety of rubber chemical suppliers, helps us select the right materials for a particular design.
Formulations are tested in an ISO 9001 and A2LA certified test lab with Alpha technology software to manage quality and development testing. We determine the type of testing most appropriate for ongoing assurance of the fitness for use and, therefore, quality of the product. HEXPOL chemists verify that the formulation meets specification and certifies the trial batch.
Lab batches are tested before factory production trial batches are prepared. During these trials there is strong collaboration among the customer, the development chemist, and the field service technician. Production trial batches are fully evaluated within our laboratory and then sent to customers, as requested, for possible prototype manufacturing, as well as for testing within their laboratories to verify agreement in physical property testing of the material.
The customer runs the samples through their production process. A field technical service specialist from HEXPOL is usually on site to work with the customer's staff to evaluate results of the trial batch production run.
Ensuring that the formulation is correct in the lab shortens development time and reduces time to market for HEXPOL customers' products.
Click here to download a copy of HEXPOL's Continuous Process Improvement: How to Improve Process Quality, Productivity & Performance white paper.