Interview: Tom Forsythe, KYZEN Corporation
Trevor Galbraith interviewed Tom Forsythe at the recent SMTAi Conference,where they discussed the changing face of cleaning. The technology is becoming more mainstream and data-driven.
“You have had quite a bit of success recently with the introduction of your ‘Analyst Bath Monitoring System’ Tell us a little bit more about it and where you see the future path of this technology.
Well the analysis started off as great pure Bath monitoring, but we didn’t think that the world needed another gauge or horn going off, so we looked at what functions were really necessary and important – and how do we activate that data? A key part of analysist when it came it into the market was remote access, remote delivery and exception reporting. If your bath concentration is off you’re going to get
a text warning you before it goes off the rails; if your temperature is off or that sort of thing – pretty basic. As soon as we saw that, we turned around back to our process control systems, the PCS’s that we have been selling for 20 plus years and recognized we were only keeping track of 40 or 50 variables in there, so there was a bit of code to write – a few more lines on the list! Then we turned around and started porting all that additional data to the web. This created something else. Not only an exceptional tracking, monitoring and evaluation system, but it also became an archive. Now we have this archive and within a few clicks you’re looking at something a few months ago, or a few years ago which has great value for the ‘high reliability’ people.
How easy is it to dive back?
It’s really easy, within a just a few clicks. It wasn’t actually designed to be an archival retrieval system, but now that we know that people really see value in that feature, we will change how we do some of the coding, so that
it will take 30 seconds rather than half”
“an hour. It’s not quite instantaneous for the archival retrieval system, but it’s pretty quick. And that of course leads you into the idea, that now that you see the process, you lock in your parameters and you are correlating that with your process quality system –
products coming off the end of the line. Is it meeting the inspection standards, whatever they may be?
Of course there have been some questions in the industry, whether this can be considered objective evidence and what- not. But whatever that standard is – is it meeting your standard or not? If it’s not meeting your standard, then you have to ask yourself, if it’s a new process, and I’ve qualified it and it’s a month or two later, why I am not meeting my standard.
It may be a really old process that has worked very reliably for years, you have the same question, but a bit of a different hunt. You might say ‘clearly my cleaning process has been reliable, functioning,
on these SKU’s for years, and I’ve got a”
“deviation.’ I know where to look or now I need to look somewhere away from the cleaning line, because it has worked for years and years. But, if I’ve made a recent change in my cleaning line… made new materials, new set – points, or whatever may be. Now I’ve got to ask that question, “why did that work for several weeks or a month, but doesn’t work today”. And that’s a real focus of a discussion we are trying to get started in the industry. This idea of ‘Are industries built on process validation? The medical side in particular, they get out the chisels and the stone tablets forbid them that anything should change. So when you start to see some of that variation in performance within those set points, we think there is some evolution that needs to happen in product qualification.
Then you’re really looking for a set of best practice and guidelines?
We do, and we want to believe this is a ‘Kyzen project’ we believe it is an ‘all of us project’. Who know, maybe it turns into a standard, who knows, it’s way too early to think about that. But this idea of how do we get there, what should we worry about, how do we make that fore- cast. Over the years we have developed different testing techniques, humidity and temperature, what does that do – that’s life cycle acceleration. That’s trying to help us look into the future. Maybe we need to think about that somehow on the cleaning materials side of things? We don’t really know what the answer is, but we know that users out in the industry are experiencing this dilemma with the cleaning processing. They get in rolling, everything’s great, a couple of weeks later, “Gee, I was running 10%, now that 10% isn’t happy anymore, now I need 15%. Well whats happened? Whats seems to be the same?”
But doesn’t the bath monitoring system you have, the analyst, does that not notice chemistries that are drifting out?
Well it will keep it at 10%, if you pick 10%, but it doesn’t notice if 10% is no longer adequate. And that’s the dilemma we are seeing here that out in the field with some technologies and we think it comes back to the qualification programme. People are doing things, mostly how we’ve been doing it for many years, and it is not limited to new technologies and the cleaning world it is just a potential risk factor. Let’s face it, the component design people are continuing to push the envelope, to meet those needs and we’re the next guy, and whenever you are the third guy in a match, that whole challenge is upping the game, and is starting to show some edges as we and some other people in the cleaning market continue to push the market. These may be new edges of the envelope that we didn’t know existed before.
It could be. At the moment cleaning is used more among the high reliability applications, but is it coming into the mainstream with miniaturization?
Yes, more and more. And where people have less experience. And you know, in those high reliability applications, the technical staff on site have a lot of tribal knowledge. They have been dealing with this stuff for years. They know ‘Okay, this stuff or that stuff happened and they can put it in context as cleaning drifts more and more into the mainstream those new users don’t have that knowledge, so they don’t have that context.
Hence, you need the guidelines really?
Right, exactly. So we are trying to get the discussion going. We’re not sure how exactly it’s going to turn out at the end, we’ve got to play through and see how it goes, but we thinks it’s a good discussion that we will all be better for.
Absolutely. Well we will look forward to seeing that and see how it progresses, and I hope you get it going, because these things are not a fast process – making standards.
No, these things are a very methodical, and that’s what we need here. We do not need ‘ready, fire, aim’ here. We need to get the discussion going, collect the data, get peoples observations and inputs. And maybe the perceptions are wrong? Maybe it’s that people aren’t monitoring and controlling enough. Perhaps that will be true? But by getting discussion going, we will sort it out and find a better place for the industry.
I look forward to it, and thank you for giving me your insight today Tom.
My pleasure, thank you very much.