Productivity through process improvement

Kevin Cook of Intertronics offers MachineBuilding.net a view on processes involving adhesives to improve productivity

Manufacturing output reached a record low in April 2020 amid the pandemic. There was a significant improvement in May, but there is still a difficult path ahead. During lockdown, the pressure on manufacturing companies mounted, and now things are back up and running, businesses are looking for ways to use their people and their equipment to be as competitive as possible in challenging markets. 

For many British manufacturers, improving productivity is about giving employees the means to do their jobs productively — it is not always simply about speed, but often about improving accuracy, consistency, yield and material usage. In a bonding or coating process, many of these improvements can be achieved with dispensing and application equipment.

The first steps to process improvement

There is no one-size-fits-all method for adhesives application process improvement — our recommendation would ultimately depend on your process, and what you are trying to achieve. A good understanding of the adhesives process and what the pain points are is key and, for many companies, a Six Sigma approach is a starting point. This measurement-based methodology provides a framework to improve processes, by identifying causes of defects and coming up with methods to eliminate them. Even if not in a Six Sigma environment, companies can identify specific areas for improvement — it may be that production times are slow, work in progress is high, process control is poor, or results are unpredictable. Once identified, the manufacturer should take steps to overcome each specific issue.

Upgrading manual processes

Improving productivity may be as simple as buying a simple time-pressure dispenser to help with a manual process. For example, an operator may experience issues with physical strain or discomfort while manually dispensing viscous liquids like silicones. Switching to a pneumatic-driven machine would lead to an immediate increase in productivity, as the operator works more steadily and efficiently, and the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) is mitigated.

If a manufacturer is experiencing problems with consistency, either with an individual operator or between operators, it may be that the application can be replicated using a small benchtop robot. The programming might copy the operator’s methodology, since she/he may very well have naturally developed the most efficient system, but a robot will take out the operator variability, remove human error and will often be quicker. It is also possible to combine multiple processes using a robot, for example dispensing and curing, or dispensing on an array of parts so that larger batches can be produced more quickly. The operator’s skills can be redeployed into tasks that cannot easily be automated and ones that add more value.

One successful example is our work with GJD Manufacturing, a motion detection system manufacturer, whose manual silicone dispensing process was time-consuming, ergonomically unsatisfactory and resulted in material waste and clean ups. The company purchased a Fisnar Dispensing Robot with a pneumatic dispensing valve fed from a cartridge, which substantially improved efficiency. GJD then opted for further process improvement by upgrading to a preeflow ecoPEN 600 precision volumetric positive displacement pump, which offers >99% repeatability and ±1% accuracy.

It is important to remember that automation is not always the answer — a process needs to balance. Opting to automate part of a process without a clear understanding of the bigger picture could increase work in progress.

Manufacturers who mix multiple materials together may find that manual mixing is another source of inconsistency and process woe. Switching from a manual process to a mixing machine like Thinky Mixer can improve mix uniformity as well as save time. For example, using it to evenly disperse epoxy resin, hardener and aluminium powder before application, or to mix ingredients for cosmetic products.

Improve yield

If there is an issue with poor adhesion resulting in a high reject rate and a lower number of saleable products, it may be possible to improve productivity with surface treatment prior to bonding. Plasma pre-treatment, for example, improves the surface’s wettability, which can increase adhesion and ultimate bond strength, and therefore increase the number of QA passed products going out of the door. Plasma surface treatment is an easy process to automate, so it can help to improve production efficiency if replacing an existing pre-treatment process, and potentially remove a wet chemical process. 

Process friendly packaging

Manufacturers can purchase material in a range of containers, from very small syringes to large pails. Package size availability and selection are contributory factors, with the need to balance shelf life, batch sizes, handleability, and so on. The type of container can help optimise your dispensing process and reduce material waste. Single part materials supplied degassed in dispenser-friendly syringes or cartridges can add to accuracy and line efficiency, as well as chemical handling. Purchasing in bulk containers can reduce material costs, but can add challenges to the dispensing process. Material can be supplied in specialised packaging, such as pre mixed and frozen in syringes, to add process simplicity when working with two-part materials. 

Now is a better time than ever to think about improving your productivity, as the manufacturing landscape experiences some significant changes. Small improvements to a process can have a big impact on yield, speed and waste. For best results, manufacturers should work closely with an experienced adhesives and dispensing equipment supplier, who can determine the appropriate equipment for what you are trying to achieve, as well as install, configure, and customise it, as well as provide the training you need to optimise its use and get a quick return on your investment.

At the Intertronics website, we have more on this subject for you, including  our 21 recommended steps https://www.intertronics.co.uk/productivity/. 

Intertronics

Unit 17, Station Field Industrial Estate
Banbury Road
Kidlington
OX5 1JD
UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0)1865 842842

info@intertronics.co.uk

www.intertronics.co.uk

More from Intertronics

Considerations when choosing a dispensing robot

Posted 2 months ago

Patented cyanoacrylate adhesives reduce manufacturing trade-offs

Posted 4 months ago

Fisnar cartridge dispenser improves handheld dispensing

Posted 1 year ago

WACKER gel: waterproof, shock-absorbing encapsulant

Posted 2 years ago

Tidy workplace and precise dispensing from preeflow eco-PEN450

Posted 2 years ago

Tin-free silicone avoids conflicting chemistries

Posted 2 years ago

Precision dispensing system improves quality and reduces rejects

Posted 2 years ago

Free guide: How to specify a dispensing robot

Posted 2 years ago

Automated sealant dispensing proves a winner for golfing product

Posted 2 years ago

Affordable mixing machine for liquids, pastes and powders

Posted 2 years ago

New eco-PEN330 dispenser from Intertronics

Posted 2 years ago

Precision liquid dispensing: fast, accurate jetting valves

Posted 2 years ago

Automation-ready plasma surface treatment from Intertronics

Posted 3 years ago

Solving the productivity puzzle with technology and training

Posted 3 years ago

Mixing and sub-micron degassing in 20 litre quantities

Posted 3 years ago

The Relyon Plasma Piezobrush PZ2 for surface activation

Posted 3 years ago

New nanoparticle deagglomeration technology

Posted 3 years ago

Versatile industrial epoxy adhesives available next day

Posted 3 years ago

Radiometer from Intertronics aids process control in UV curing

Posted 3 years ago

Fast cure, easy removal temporary PCB mask aids productivity

Posted 3 years ago

Precision mixing and dispensing facilitates miniaturisation

Posted 3 years ago

Mixing silicones for facial and other prosthetics

Posted 3 years ago

New QuantX premium dispensing components range from Intertronics

Posted 4 years ago

Preeflow volumetric adhesive dispensing helps device integrity

Posted 4 years ago

Relyon Plasma PB3 Plasmabrush for surface treatment and cleaning

Posted 4 years ago

New Polytec PT brochure from Intertronics

Posted 4 years ago

Dymax BlueWave MX-150 high energy UV LED spot curing lamp

Posted 4 years ago

Black opaque conformal coating enhances PCB security

Posted 4 years ago

Accuracy and repeatability in precision dispensing with preeflow

Posted 4 years ago

Thinky ARE-400 Twin: twice the capacity, same mixing performance

Posted 4 years ago

Intertronics opens new Technology Centre

Posted 4 years ago

Relyon Plasma Treatment Systems available from Intertronics

Posted 4 years ago

Intertronics brings UV post-cure to 3D SLA polymer printing

Posted 4 years ago

UV/light cure masking resin: protection for turbine components

Posted 4 years ago

Clear epoxy potting compound offers high temperature resistance

Posted 4 years ago

High-performance methyl methacrylate adhesives from Intertronics

Posted 4 years ago

Adhesive Technology Seminars: performance and productivity

Posted 4 years ago

High-precision volumetric spray dispensing system

Posted 4 years ago

L&L A-K015: a fast-curing clear adhesive for plastics and metals

Posted 4 years ago

New introductory guide for time/pressure dispensing

Posted 4 years ago

Download guides: electrically and thermally conductive adhesives

Posted 4 years ago

Fast-curing adhesive bonds polypropylene and polyethylene

Posted 4 years ago

Positive displacement dispensing valve has disposable fluid path

Posted 5 years ago

Light cure conformal coatings: a technical guide

Posted 5 years ago

New Hi Vis maskant from Intertronics speeds finishing processes

Posted 5 years ago

Choosing a Structural Adhesive: technical seminar at FAST

Posted 5 years ago

High-performance UV LED cure system is versatile and easy to use

Posted 5 years ago

Intertronics UV adhesive system cures time problem

Posted 5 years ago

Improve efficiency of FIP gaskets with DYMAX UV cure material

Posted 5 years ago

Fisnar DC100 programmable precision dispenser

Posted 5 years ago

Workshop seminar on adhesive & coating dispensing at FAST

Posted 5 years ago

Electrically conductive flexible polyurethane adhesive

Posted 5 years ago

Intertronics IRS 2129 rubber modified epoxy adhesive

Posted 5 years ago

Opti-tec 7020 silicone potting protection with total clarity

Posted 5 years ago

ADH 9454: high-viscosity gel, gap-filling cyanoacrylate gel

Posted 5 years ago

DYMAX 3401 UV and moisture cure adhesive for plastics and metals

Posted 5 years ago

New whitepaper: designing-in light-curing adhesives

Posted 5 years ago

More precise two-component metering, mixing and dispensing

Posted 5 years ago

BlueWave fast-cure UV LED flood system

Posted 6 years ago

DYMAX Industrial Adhesives Selector Guide now available

Posted 6 years ago

DYMAX UV/light adhesive used in museum-quality display table

Posted 6 years ago

New Practical Components Catalogue from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

New PCB coating pen from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

CircuitWorks flux-dispensing pens/syringes and flux-removal pens

Posted 6 years ago

Flowplus16 pressure monitor features universal Luer-Lock system

Posted 6 years ago

CircuitWorks silver and nickel conductive pens from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

UV cure optical display adhesives offer crystal clear bonds

Posted 6 years ago

DYMAX UV and visible spot cure system upgrade

Posted 6 years ago

Phoseon Firefly high-performance UV LED System from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

DYMAX UV cure FIP/CIP gasket for fuel cells from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

Advanced dual-cure conformal coating from Intertronics

Posted 6 years ago

Thinky mixer provides rapid one-step dispersal/degassing

Posted 6 years ago

flowplus16 Pressure Sensor for critical dosing and dispensing

Posted 6 years ago

UV cure modular flood lamp systems from Intertronics

Posted 7 years ago

New UV/light and rapid moisture cure encapsulants

Posted 7 years ago

Two new LED encapsulants from Intertronics

Posted 7 years ago

Resilient potting compound for Tough Tracker from Intertronics

Posted 7 years ago

Liquidyn P-Jet CT high-performance micro-dispensing valve

Posted 7 years ago

New electrically conductive adhesive from Intertronics

Posted 7 years ago

Pinpoint precision with P-Dot electro-pneumatic jetting valve

Posted 7 years ago

Polytec PU 1000: electrically conductive polyurethane adhesive

Posted 7 years ago

UV & LED curing adhesive bonds glass/glass and glass/metal

Posted 7 years ago

Microcapsules in adhesive dispensing technology

Posted 7 years ago

Polyimide adhesives with high temperature resistance

Posted 7 years ago

High-performance thermally conductive epoxy adhesives

Posted 7 years ago

Electrically conductive adhesive is biocompatible Class VI

Posted 8 years ago

New blue to pink peelable masking resin: simple and versatile

Posted 8 years ago

Entry level UV curing flood lamp for adhesives/coatings/inks

Posted 8 years ago

High-performance fluid dispensing system from Intertronics

Posted 8 years ago

Competitiveness is increased with F4200N dispensing robot

Posted 8 years ago

New adhesive bonds dissimilar materials in seconds

Posted 8 years ago

Specialist precision dispensing technology webinar

Posted 8 years ago

Two-component dispensing more precise with Intertronics

Posted 8 years ago

More technical articles
1 day ago
Automatic bearing lubrication brings ore inspiring results in mining
By installing automatic lubricators for bearings on its conveyor drive motors and belt pulleys, an opencast mine in Hungary has seen a range of benefits, including the prevention of unplanned downtime, longer bearing life and reduced repair work
1 day ago
Kinoulton company conveys COVID-combating masks
Here's a great example of the germ of an idea resulting in the combating of COVID
1 day ago
FLIR Systems announces four new Exx-Series handheld thermal imaging cameras
New E96, E86, E76 and E54 models feature enhanced thermal resolution and provide on-camera routing capability for more efficient inspections
2 days ago
New C-Mount lenses bring focus for machine and system builders
IDS now offers more than 20 new C-mount lenses with resolutions of 5, 8 and 10 MP as well as different focal lengths and optical classes
2 days ago
Backup DC motor for two rolling mill applications
Menzel Elektromotoren has built a replica of an old DC motor for a large German steel strip manufacturer
2 days ago
Distributed safety systems webinar 30th October 0930
In this webinar Pilz UK Product Manager David Collier will examine the state-of-the-art technology available to meet the demands of decentralisation
2 days ago
New narrow FeedThrough connectors save panel space
New from Cliff Electronics is the SLIMS FeedThrough Connector range, designed and manufactured in the UK
3 days ago
New autoglide 5 system from igus doesn’t need a guide trough
A new energy chain system for intralogistics and crane systems has been designed by motion plastics experts igus
3 days ago
New DC/AC converter unveiled by Phoenix Contact
With the arrival of its new DC/AC inverter (part of the Phoenix Contact Quint Power family) the company says that machine builders now have a compact solution to generate alternating current in DC applications
3 days ago
New-generation bullet train runs on NSK bearings
High-performance bearings from NSK are now operational in the newly developed N700S Shinkansen (bullet train)