KYZEN Comes Clean For SMTAI

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In this interview, KYZEN Executive Vice President Tom Forsythe explains his company’s plans for the upcoming SMTA International show in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Oct. 31-Nov. 3. He discusses KYZEN’s latest aqueous cleaning chemistries and the company’s focus on providing reliable cleaning equipment and accurate data for customers. 

Andy Shaughnessy: I'm here today with Tom Forsythe, the executive vice president of KYZEN. How are things going, Tom?

Tom Forsythe: Going well, Andy. How's it going for you? 

Shaughnessy: Things are going really well. We’re starting to travel to conferences again. I understand you're going to SMTA International, and you have some new technology that you will be talking about? Tell us about it.

Forsythe: Absolutely. Of course, we believe that SMTA International is the clearinghouse for new information. It's where the smart folks in the industry gather and share their ideas, what they’re working on, and problems they've solved. This year, KYZEN is bringing to the table a new product, and then really a discussion for the industry about best practices are from a process the building perspective. Our Aquanox A4626 is the latest in a very long line of Aquanox products. 

We introduced a Aquanox products 30 years ago, give or take. The idea was these were aqueous products to advance the industry. Of course, we've been chasing solder materials ever since. The solder folks have constantly been introducing new high-performance materials, and not giving it a single consideration to cleaning, because that's somebody else's job. Thankfully it's our job.

This is the latest in that expanded envelope, with better economics, and better environmental health and safety. It's all part of this trend of always trying to be a better product and deliver better value. Well, the key to using a better product properly, as well as getting that better value, is asking, “How do you keep things in control when you're running a water-based product?” If you're a batch cleaner, there's less spraying. There's not a lot of exhaust. So, it tends to be a very stable process from that perspective. The concentration will drift slightly over time, but it's fairly gradual, and it's pretty easy to keep track of and control. 

Whereas, if you're in a conveyor system with an inline, as we call them in the industry, life's a little different there. You've created a hurricane in the front wash section. In fact, some of the suppliers call their nozzle configuration “hurricane jets.” There's a big cloud in there. When you pump all this stuff in there, that means I've got to have an exhaust. Water evaporates a lot quicker than the cleaning agents, so you get out of balance very rapidly. 

Shaughnessy: You really have to monitor the balance constantly.

Forsythe: Right. You can be out of balance in 10 or 20 minutes, as opposed to days or even a week or two in a batch cleaner. So, we developed the KYZEN PCS, process control system, which we introduced in 1997. It's been steadily upgraded and approved over the years. What it does is monitor the process and control the inputs. If your wash tank level is a little low, it will bring that level up to speed. Your concentration is off a little bit? Let's make a slight chemical addition to get your concentration proper.

Plus, it does this ongoing, steadily pumping the product out of the drum. It has a light stick in the drum to tell you the drum’s empty. It does everything except roll the drum up to your machine, right (laughs)? It gives you a very consistent process. You're supposed to run at 15 or 12%. Well, you're running them, you're not plus or minus 5% or some crazy thing. This decreases worker exposure to things, because it's automatically adding the materials. It's sampling automatically, so you don't have to stick your head in some place. There's real value added from the process control perspective. But when you couple that with a new product that is even better performing than the products it's following, it's a real solution for a win. 

We develop all our products in house. We build these process control systems ourselves. We write the software code for them. It's a tool that we developed, and we completely understand, and we are constantly refining it to do a better job. As I said, we've been selling these for 25 years now, and they are tanks; they run forever. We've got customers that have been running them forever.

Shaughnessy: Well, that's great. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Forsythe: We’re looking forward to the show. We like to meet with customers and help them understand the best answer for them. With our new products, it's not like a software upgrade where three weeks later everybody's upgraded. In fact, in our world, most of our customers are not leading-edge people eager to change. They change as their needs change, because while the newest solders may need a more effective material, not everybody's using the newest solders.

It looks like SMTAI will be an exciting show. We're out of COVID; maybe we're finally fully past the darn thing. Keep your fingers crossed. We'll get together, give some tech papers, listen to some interesting tech papers, and share ideas with the industry. Because that's really what SMTAI is. It's a clearinghouse of interesting and novel ideas, because that's how our industry moves forward. I always like to think of new ways that electronics assemblies could work. Our industry is inventing tomorrow, today, and that's part of the fun of it.

Shaughnessy: Inventing tomorrow, today. That's a good way to wrap this up. Thanks for speaking with us Tom.

Forsythe: Thank you for thinking of us. I look forward to seeing you at the show.



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