KYZEN: Cleaning with Data


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With the ability to monitor the temperature and concentration of the bath, and automatically adjust either if needed, the KYZEN Analyst system has caught the attention of the electronics assembly industry. In Germany recently, I met with Tom Forsythe, executive vice president for KYZEN, who gave me an update on the tool and described how KYZEN Analyst has evolved into an Internet 4.0 solution with the ability to increase performance and life of the chemistry.

Barry Matties: Our last interview was around KYZEN Analyst and your data services, and at that point you were just launching it. Now, eight months into it, please give us an update.

Tom Forsythe: We've listened well. First, a little background, for years, we've sold control systems with varying degrees of automation. They were utilitarian and did a great job. They quietly hummed away in the corner and did their thing. As we looked our technology road map we were doing a solid job on the actual "do it" process control aspects, but the systems had a lot of data that was not being fully utilized. That set us on a path focused on data utilization and visualization. How can we "process and deliver," visualize if you will, that data for the customer and give them information instead raw data? Alarms, trends, trips, e-mail notifications, text messages, all that sort of stuff.

That's really what our cloud-based KYZEN Analyst Data Services is all about. Real time, live information is the core of Analysts Data Services. Coupled with that is real time, easy access to historical information that's been very interesting to people: "Gee, I'm getting an audit from my end-user, and they are spot checking some assemblies that we made on October 22 last year, in the afternoon. And they want us to prove that the cleanliness data is okay." In the old days, that entailed finding X-bar and R-charts, and pieces of paper, and it took hours or days to track that stuff down. Now, it's a handful of clicks. In a few minutes, that audit request is satisfied while the engineer is sitting at his desk working on the report back to their end users.

The big picture here this whole idea of providing information. KYZEN is a subject matter expert in the cleaning realm. We are as deep as anyone in the world regarding cleaning, and while we like to think we are well informed in other areas of assembly technology not compared to our expertise about cleaning. That depth of understanding is readily apparent on the KYZEN Analyst Data Services dashboards. While some stereotypes are inaccurate, it is very true that we engineer’s love data and charts. Where KYZEN is taking it to the next level is by delivering a wide range of variables, all plotted over time and available for immediate comparison. When you couple this with a “smart” alert system, digital alerts delivered to the staff members needing to know and responsible for taking the appropriate corrective action we have moved far beyond another red light going off or another horn. This is a next level system that is very empowering.

We discovered something about ourselves in this process that we did not know. Our KYZEN PCS control systems, oddly enough, were industry 4.0 back in the '90s when they were introduced. How could that be? Well, they were taking readings, lots of reading in the PLC ladder logic, and then taking actions based on that data. That was all pre-programmed, it wasn't a machine learning situation, but it was an “observe, compare, react” system That's the core of where 4.0 is today. In the future, whether it's called 5.0 or something else, machine learning will be more common. A great example for that next level is radiology. If I take a million X-rays, and I know which ones are good, not so good, or inconclusive, and I feed those into a tool, and tell them which is which. Now they've got a vast treasure trove of information to go, "Ah, this one is good, bad, or indecisive, because I've got this huge data set reference that I now have access to."

That's kind of this follow-on level. At this point, we're kind of doing the same thing, in that we're saying, "All right. Your KYZEN aqueous cleaner needs to be at 10% (in water), or 12%, or whatever the heck it might be, and you need to be at 140°F." And that's been verified during your process design and validation. We're keeping track of those variables, and when they get near those limits, we’re looking adjusting what the tool is empowered to control to stay within those parameters or sending alerts if we cannot control it. We believe that decreases the workload for both the engineers and the operators in a variety of ways. The KYZEN PCS automatically adding a little cleaning agent clearly saves that person time, but it also prevents a future system upset by keeping the process in control. That “upset avoidance” saves engineer time for sure, but there is more to it than that. The fact that KYZEN PCS and Analyst Data Services is on the job, monitoring and controlling the process lets the operators and engineers stop worrying about it and apply their “smarts and energy” to other productive tasks.

Particularly for the control systems, as we worked to transition from the stand-alone approach to the integrated, cloud-based approach we realized the existing PLC code was considering dozens and dozens of little data points.

A simple example is that we don't add a cleaning agent unless the wash pump. Why is that? Well, the wash pump is how the mixing happens. Mixing fresh cleaning agent is important. It's just a little best practice kind of thing—not rocket science. Well, the stand-alone tools were checking to make sure that pump was on all along. Now, it didn't remember whether the pump was on. It was just checking to see if it was on, and then it turned on the little pump to add some product. Now we remember whether it's on, so we can tell you when it went off. Or when it went back on again. This is but one example of the comprehensive approach the KYZEN PCS employed back in the '90s. It was doing a great deal of decision making and analysis, but quietly in the corner.

As engineer’s, we and our customers have been thinking along these lines forever. What we have done with KYZEN Analyst Data Services is provided visibility and access that data, and then by enhancing the analytics of that data real time we deliver a rich information experience to the people operating the system. Because, the more curves you have, the easier it is to troubleshoot. It's just like Sherlock Holmes: He sense five different observations, and the lines cross some place.

Matties: So, since our last interview, you've had installations?

Forsythe: Loads of them, yes. The feedback has been super positive. It's an easy install. There's very little hard footprint on the user end, and it also enables remote troubleshooting. So, when a customer gets an alert, if the customer is agreeable, we get the same alert. If the customer's agreeable, we can look at their data, and let them know what we think is going on.

Matties: You become an extension of their analyzing process.

Forsythe: From across the sea, even. It’s another layer of service and support that is very consistent with KYZEN’s value equation for our customers that we like to provide.

Matties: I was talking to Stefan, your rep from Factronix, here in Germany. And he said one of the users is exhibiting here and that they're getting extended life of their process chemicals, just because it has better maintenance.

Forsythe: Right. Well, it's like anything else. As our parents all told us, "If you take care of things, they last longer." That's true for your couch, your car, your shoes, etc.

Matties: And your process chemistry.

Forsythe: And your cleaning system! If you keep the system operating within the proper parameters, and you're making those little adjustments, so it never really gets very far off that ideal or desirable level, it just always works a little better. This is logical to those of us in manufacturing, because we know that every manufacturing process has some variability; a wiggle in it if you will. The theory is the variations cancel each other out and we're sort of in the middle. When every variable leans the same way, we fall off the edge of the world, right? So we never want to do that. What the KYZEN PCS & Analyst Data Services does is decrease variability, the wiggle, of the cleaning process. Now, instead of somebody checking it once or twice a day manually, and making a bigger addition, it's checking it on an essentially continuous basis. Steady as you go.

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