This plant was very reactive and looking for a change

Stuck in a reactive state and relying on Tribal knowledge to manage and maintain their metal working fluids, the plant was fighting rust, air quality, part cleanliness, and dermatitis issues. 


Something had to change.


The easy answer was a PM program, change the fluids out before they start causing a problem. 



Easy to say, tougher to do, and crazy expensive. 


There’s a better way. 


A way that lets you identify the KPI’s that impact fluid performance and fluid cost. 


A way to sustainably drive productivity up and cost per part down. 


Join us at this years Virtual IMTS meeting where we will be presenting the Topic :


“Are unmanaged Fluid KPI’s impacting your cost per part and hurting plant OEE“ 


Our goal is to present a sustainable strategy to identify and then manage and maintain the lead metrics that lead to higher OEE at a lower cost per part. 



Hope to see you there!

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Testing Testing Testing

its more than just Testing-Testing-Testing what you do with those tests need to be part of your dna

Testing-Testing-Testing: really important, but only a small piece of the process necessary to achieve the outcomes you are after.

It's unimaginable how much the world of manufacturing has changed in just 2.5 months?


Just 2.5 short months ago, our clients were looking to maximize OEE, maximize production yields while working tirelessly to reduce the cost per part manufactured.  




Today is about quickly implementing new processes into our manufacturing environment, like social distancing and contact tracing to keep our work force safe, while at the same time slowly restarting our plants in a very uncertain market place.  


Restarting plants amid so much uncertainty, is a huge challenge.  


Uncertainty about the market: Is there going to be a customers that buy my product, 


Uncertainty about the work force, Are my workers going to feel safe enough to return to work? 


Uncertainty about cash flow, do we have enough resources to weather this storm no matter how long it lasts? 


It’s a massive challenge for any plant, but the ones that I think are going to be most challenged?


The ones that have historically relied too heavily on tribal knowledge to manage their processes.  


Plants that used past practices vs data to drive their day to day activity.  


These are unprecedented times, and therefore relying solely on past experience is dangerous and puts  people and business at risk.  


Conventional wisdom doesn’t work in unconventional times.


To me, the only gut feeling we should trust right now, is the feeling that data and data analysis will be the only way to navigate ourselves safely out of this mess.  


We’ve heard testing, testing, testing, over and over, but the reality is, testing is only one piece of the whole process that needs to be implemented.  


We need to validate and verify, we need to interpret the data and take action, we need to learn and adjust.  


The plants that have Plan-Do-Check-Act baked into their culture will be able to quickly implement the new processes and adjust their current ones to deal with the dramatically different lead metrics that are racing towards us.


Plants that respond to this crisis by plugging these new processes into a PDCA Management system is essential if we hope to emerge better, stronger, more efficient and less wasteful.  


This crisis requires the Wisdom gained through robust data analysis and timely corrective action, not tribal knowledge or assumptions based on past experience.  


So who’s going to thrive and survive as we come out of this?  


The plants that can quickly implement new processes, quickly identify the new KPI’s that need to be integrated into their Plan Do Check Act management strategies, ie the ones that make data driven execution part of their core DNA.  



Overprocessing: How one Manufacturer identified and is working to eliminate this significant source of waste

CI-223 Over-Processing A Significant Source of Waste
A significant Source of waste is when more time, effort and resources go into producing a product that the customer isn't willing to pay for.
CI-223 Over-Processing Part Cleanliness.
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Over-processing: when more value is added to a product than the customer actually requires.  

By adding work that is not required, Over-processing costs money with regards to the time of staff, the materials used and the wear on the equipment. 


By definition, for preventative measures to work, you have to be over-processing.  

An example of over processing is when companies use aggressive PM programs to manage their systems. 


When time instead of condition is used to change out their washers, rinse tanks, coolant sumps or oil systems.  


When there is no cost effective way to identify and track end of life, then plants are stuck using wasteful preventative measures, however when the KPI's that do impact performance can be tracked and monitored, then condition monitoring lets you not only eliminate wasteful over processing, but it provides the data necessary to make better decisions moving forward.  


By adding work that is not required, Over-processing costs money with regards to the time of staff, the materials used and the wear on the equipment.


These costs can amount to a considerable sum over a period of time, they will also reduce efficiencies as the operators that are Over-processing could be performing other value adding tasks that the customer is actually willing to pay you for.


In our world we see a lot of over processing that results from trying to contain problems. 


When the lead KPI’s are not be controlled, companies are forced to be preventative, using past events and tribal knowledge to build PM schedules in their effort to avoid events.. 


This leads to significant waste and wasteful activity. 


In this example, the source of over-processing identified was a final parts washing process. 


The facility had installed this washer in an effort to address a part cleanliness issue they were having. 


By running all the various components cleaned by 4 upstream washers, they used this final wash process as an extra level of insurance to minimize the risk of a quality event. 


It increased costs, increased WIP inventory, consumed valuable floor space, required staffing etc.  but if it meant they weren’t experiencing a “customer detected quality event”, it was worth it. 



The problem was that this containment action didn’t address the real issue and repeated quality spills meant they had to look at the problem from a different perspective.   


In most circumstances, all the KPI's are not known ahead of time, but by implementing a standardized approach to data collection and correlation, its possible to move from preventative to condition based in most systems.  


And the move from preventative to condition based is essential for companies looking to get world class.  


As the words left his mouth, he knew it was a mistake.....

This is a story about a plant managers efforts to start changing the culture in this parts manufacturing facility.

Caught in the Reactive Cycle, where the maintenance department is celebrated for repair instead of prevention and control, this data driven executive had to take some dramatic action to prove that things needed to change.  


Changing how people think, what they prioritize and what they do every day is brutally hard.  


But its necessary when plant culture stands in the way of reaching our World Class Goals.  


What have you seen or done to try to encourage and drive culture change at your plant?


How have you demonstrated the consistency, commitment and courage necessary to make a lasting change in how people approach their work every day?  


Please add to the conversation below.  


We all want to learn how best to shift the thinking of our team if we are to reach our goals together.

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Once the Chicken Crosses the Road.....How long should you cook it?

Well....that depends, do you have the time and experience necessary to make the perfect chicken?  Or are you trying to cook thousands of chickens, day after day, with people that don't have grandma's care or expertise.  


Check out the video.  Its an analogy we are trying to make comparing cooking chickens to producing thousands of identical parts at a world class manufacturing level, 100% quality, 100% on-time, at the lowest cost per part possible.  

The more sites we visit, the more processes we audit, the more we see that variability is truly, in the words of Jack Welch, "the root of all evil".  Process variability is what causes plants to have to build safety factors into their systems.  And as these safety factors build over time, we see that they just continue to add to the cost per part and though they reduce the number of occurrences, they don't eliminate them, because the actual root cause to the problem is never identified or truly understood.  

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Two Engineering Students walk into a bar....and something interesting happens

It has always been amazing to me, how different disciplines in engineering approach problems from a completely different angle.  


In this example, a mechanical engineer talks about their definition of a process in control, vs a chemical engineer's definition.  


Now in parts manufacturing, the definition of perfect control,  is zero variability in the part being manufactured.  Once a standard has been set, the goal is 100% quality, meaning 100% of the parts manufactured meet that standard.  

And whats the best way to reach 100% Quality?  


Take as much variability out of all your process as possible.  


Due to the nature of the types of processes Mechanical engineers tend to design, they look to "engineer out" variability.  They look to build processes so robust that they are set and forget.  Set them up once and then let them run.


Chemical processes however tend to be more dynamic in nature.  Process inputs like flow, pressure, temperature, concentration, pH etc. can change quickly and significantly.  Therefore when a chemical process is considered in control, its being sampled, analysed, interpreted and corrected on an on-going basis.  Its constantly being monitored and maintained in its efforts to deliver 100% quality.  


It is our contention that most of the processes in a parts manufacturing environment are mechanical in nature.  These are the core processes.  The processes where the company has the in house expertise  necessary to control the aspects that impact product quality.  The core processes are where these firms look to build their competitive advantage and innovate.  


The problem is that there are a small percentage of the processes that are more chemical in nature than mechanical.  These need robust process control solutions vs the more stable processes mechanical engineers are used to dealing with.


So where does Zimmark come in?   


We are a bunch of chemical engineers that bring a unique chemical engineering approach to a predominantly mechanical engineered world.  


We focus on the non-core chemical processes where inputs like pH, concentration, alkalinity, etc can all have a detrimental impact on part quality or total process cost.  


By bringing a unique perspective and focus, we can help parts manufacturers reduce their costs and improve their OEE


Curious if there is an aspect of your manufacturing process that needs a chemical vs mechanical mind set? 


An area where maybe not all the process inputs have been identified and their variability is the root cause to aspects hurting your OEE?


Zimmark's Process Variability Audit looks to identify control problems in some of the processes that may not be on your radar as the root cause to quality, availability or excessive cost/waste problems. 


Where there's smoke, there's usually fire, so a process where the inputs are highly variability can often be the source of the problem silently impacting plant OEE.  


Sign up for your Process Variability Audit today, to find out if a bunch of chemical engineers can help you keep variability out of your manufacturing process.  



A Manufacturing Oxymoron: Wasteful KPI's

A Manufacturing Oxymoron:  Wasteful KPI's


How can a KPI be Wasteful?  


Isn't the very definition of a KPI or Key Performance Indicator, a lead metric that helps drive the results we are looking to achieve in a manufacturing environment?



Though data and KPI's are the critical ingredient we need in order to optimize our processes and reach World Class Manufacturing standards, when they no longer change our behavior, they become a source of waste, not control.


Too many plants collect KPI's but don't do anything with them.


Too many programs have been implemented, don't sustain over time and no longer bring value and drive control or CI.


Look critically at your plant activities, look for the data acquisition tasks that are no longer bringing value, and either re-commit, or stop doing them altogether.  


Just like the CEO that called his Lean Team Boards "Window dressing" because they didn't change the process or what people did every day, in our relentless effort to eliminate waste and wasteful activity, we need to either fix our data driven initiatives, or stop doing them.  


So the question, what Lean initiatives are you going to either  stop doing altogether or instead decide to recommit to?



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Is Data Window Dressing or an Agent of Change at your Manufacturing facility?

After our last Post "KPI or Useless & Wasteful Metric?" we received a great story from one of our clients.  


After touring the CEO through his facility, and proudly showing off the Team Leaders Metrics Boards, the CEO asked him the tough question:  "what process changes have you made from all this data that will add value and get more product out the door?”




After some reflection our young plant manager couldn't honestly come up with any direct examples of how the data had improved the process or increased their OEE.


To that the CEO said: “if you are not doing anything to add value with the data, it’s just Window Dressing!”



Using data to change behavior is tough, tough to establish but even tougher to maintain.  


There are many reasons it fails, many reasons that over time data moves from an agent of change to wall hangings that fill up plant production boards.    


We are looking to compile and add to the list of why data can go from change agent to window dressing, and need you help. 


Help us all avoid those potential pitfalls by sharing a time at your facility where the data was being used for a while to drive OEE improvement, but over time, it just turned into window dressing.    


Any stories you could share that highlight that switch from value to waste would be greatly appreciated and benefit us all!  


Thank you for sharing!

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Useless Data or Important Lead Metric?

Only one way to find out. 


Sometimes what seems like useless data, data that’s not worth collecting, not worth analyzing and not worth reviewing can in fact lead to Insights that can have a significant impact on a manufacturing facility.


They can become an important lead metric.  


Watch this video for what happened.

It's about a facility that needed to address an urgent issue but didn’t think that collecting related data was worth the time or effort. 


Knowing what data to collect can be a challenge, because unless you collect timely and reliable data and then take the time to interpret and look for relationships to performance results, its useless.

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Sometimes the Squeaky Wheel Doesn't Get the Grease


Sometimes Data alone is just not enough. 


You need to take a stand.


Check out this story about a site where our supervisor made a stand in order to get the support he needed to fix the root cause.  


A 100% reduction, that's Impact!

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World Class Manufacturers Don't Rely on Opinion

Opinion is dangerous.  Opinion leads to non value add activities.  It leads to waste and wasteful activity.  It leaves the facility vulnerable to quality problems putting the people and process at risk of an un-managed event.  


I was visiting a plant this week that was struggling to consistently meet its quality spec.  When we talked about their investigation process it became obvious that opinion not data was driving their decision making.   


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Can you Outsource 6 Pack Abs?

If you could outsource 6 pack abs, would you?


Seriously if you get someone to do your sit-ups for you.


Eat the right food for you, wake up at 5 AM and run 7 miles for you and you got to keep the Abs that eventually appeared under your shirt, would you do it?

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How much Reactive Maintenance is Too Much?

How much reactive maintenance is too much?


This may sound sacrilegious, but every plant should have a certain amount of reactive maintenance.


There are just some processes that are OK to fail and then fix. 


But good Reactive maintenance is a decision not an accident.


It needs to satisfy the three rules included in the video.

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The Skills Gap is hurting your OEE and profitability.

The Skills Gap is hurting your OEE and profitability.  


The competition for skilled trades and maintenance staff is fierce in manufacturing plants today.  


And that shortage in available skills requires plants to re-think how they are allocating these limited resources.


Limited resources leads to more reactive maintenance, hurts plant efficiency and drives costs up.  


When caught in a reactive cycle, the plant never gets a chance to get ahead and implement the sustainable improvement necessary to stay competitive.


There's no time left to build, implement, manage and maintain the proactive systems necessary to control the process variability that leads to events, failures and waste.  


We've put together a simplified tool to help re-think how you are allocating your skilled resources.


Its based on categorizing and then profiling the 4 types of tasks we need our skilled trades engaged in each day.  


If you are interested in getting  copy of this tool, please leave the phrase "Skills Gap" in the comments below.

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Trust but Verify....because without data trust is just an opinion

Trust but Verify, because without data, trust is just an opinion


In the mid 80's when working to reduce tensions during the Cold War, Ronald Reagan famously coined the phrase "Trust but Verify"


Its often referenced when outcome is essential and matters more than the relationship itself


How does this relate to manufacturing?


Well, parts manufacturers should only be using suppliers they trust but verification that the product/service meets specific quality standards over time is essential


The potential impact of an out-of-specification product introduced to the manufacturing process can be significant


And therefore the verification step in the process is an essential aspect for manufacturers looking to reach and achieve World Class performance targets


Without a robust verification process, often the root cause to a quality or HS&E related event is never determined since the out-of-specification product is never detected, and never adjusted for


Help us all understand the impact of out-of-specification products being introduced into the manufacturing process


Can you think of a time where a product supplied by a 3rd party, a trusted supplier, ended up creating a significant event or quality spill at your facility? Leave your story in the comments below


How to get from good to great!

Crazy Busy, or Productive Busy? And how do you move from one to the other?

Focus on Executing the Process, Because Focusing on one result alone can miss the point

You Know, Sometimes you really should sweat the small stuff

Our World Class Process Audit is designed to identify the small stuff and put the sustainable systems in place to keep those things in control so the big things don't happen and waste and wasteful activity is minimized.  If your interested in learning more about our WCPA, following the link.

World Class Performance Audit

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Re-thinking the allocation of your Skilled Resources

We were working with a client who was struggling with a problem that’s far too common in todays manufacturing sector.  


Another one of their key maintenance guys was retiring and they were extremely concerned about how they were going to replace him. 



Production was at record levels, they were introducing new product lines, but their ability to maintain their equipment and keep their OEE within acceptable limits was becoming a real challenge.   

They were getting behind on their % Pm compliance and more and more overtime hours were required to hit their targets.

The plant was suffering from what a large number of manufacturers are experiencing today.  


An aging work force, a low unemployment rate, high turn over and no time or systems to develop the necessary skills in new workers to meet all the needs of a world class facility.  


He wasn’t sure what to do, they had been trying to hire someone with the right credentials for a number of months.  


Giving up on the idea of finding a “replacement” candidate, we decided to take a different approach to address the problem. 


By treating the entire department as a whole, we were able to come up with a skills vs function matrix.


By categorizing tasks based on Skill required, level of urgency, potential impact on OEE and impact on cost, we were able to map out the functions that could be completely removed from that departments responsibility.  


This freed up a significant amount of their time, making the replacement of the individual no longer necessary.  


It also allowed their highly skilled resources more time to focus on the tasks they were uniquely skilled to address like process improvement and innovation.


By re-thinking how everyone was spending their time and aligning core capabilities with the task at hand, the facility moved from a reactive environment to one of continual improvement.  


If you are interested in getting a copy of our Skills vs Function Assessment Matrix, please put the word matrix in the comments below.      


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Mistaken Identity Leads to excessive costs and Poor OEE

Using KPI data to manage any process is essential if the goal is to improve OEE while optimizing cost.  The problem happens when you are using incorrect data to make decisions.  In this video we tell the story of an Automotive Parts manufacturer that was using RI to manage the concentration in their sumps.  Operators had strict SOP's, with their corrective actions clearly defined.   The problem is, what they were measuring as concentration was really contamination, so no fluid additions were being made.  Fluid Performance degraded, OEE dropped and the facility was struggling to meet their production and quality targets.  

Data Verification and Validation is a critical step in the Plan-Do-Check-Act Management process.  There can be many reasons why the data a plant uses can be wrong, however its critical to know that the information being used to make critical decisions in both accurate and timely. 


This facility spent time, money and critical resources managing to an incorrect metric.  Regular data validation together with the interpretation of supporting/related data, is the only way to be sure that the process performance and operating costs are optimized. 


Built into the Z-TPM Process, data verification and validation is performed and measured daily.   

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Watch out for this Manufacturing Trap!

When there's a  customer detected quality event, all hell can break loose.  There's missed customer commitments, potential penalties, a loss of reputation and trust that can hurt your relationship with your client, etc.  This story is about a facility that had such an event, and was looking to make a change to ensure the problem never happened again.  Unfortunately they fell into an all too common trap.  In the absence of data, they made some assumptions.  They formed an opinion about what the problem actually was.  And that opinion had them spending money, time and resources while increasing their cost per part that didn't necessarily address the root cause.  

Containing a problem is completely different than solving it.  Containment tries to keep the problem from happening vs identifying the true root cause and controlling the variables that lead to the condition.  Often containment just delays or masks the event, but either way it drives up the cost of the manufacturing process while still leaving the system at risk.    When a process has been running well for several years and then runs into an issue, the process is capable, however something has changed that has caused the issue.  Identifying that change and then putting in the controls to ensure it doesn't re-occur has to be part of a World Class Manufacturing mind set.  To be competitive globally, we need to eliminate waste and wasteful activity from our manufacturing processes and continue to improve over time.  Containing problems vs fixing them, introduces waste and waste-ful activity and tend to stack on themselves over time.  


How to contain a problem is really just an opinion of what to do to address the issue, while true process optimization is understanding your KPI's measuring them at an appropriate frequency and then continuing to  adjust the process to reduce the total cost.  


Containment is quick and easy in that it doesn't require the rigor of data collection and interpretation, however its often very wrong, and that's why it's a trap we spring on ourselves when we don't ask all the right questions or take the time necessary to collect the relevant information.   


 “Without data, you're just another person with an opinion.”.  Dr. Deming 


What's you opinion or have you got some data to share?

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Are your CI projects Containment Actions or True Process Capability Improvements?

Manufacturing at World Class levels is a relentless pursuit of 100% quality, 100% on time, at the lowest cost possible.  Its about increasing efficiency, while eliminating waste and wasteful activity. 


Plants and plant managers are always on the lookout for how to reduce costs while at the same time improving OEE and keeping their resources focused on high value activities.Unfortunately sometimes, cost reduction efforts can miss the big picture, especially when these initiatives are solely focused on reducing unit costs.



In this video I offer an example where the team was excited about implementing a cost reduction opportunity however it was clearly a containment action vs true process improvement that supported the overall objectives of the facility.  




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Is the Ugly Girlfriend keeping you from reaching your Productivity and Cost Reduction Goals?

Tribal knowledge

Most times, its just wrong.

If Tribal Knowledge has its grip on your non-core processes, its time to see if there is a better way.  Zimmark's World Class Performance Variability Assessment, sniffs out tribal knowledge and looks for ways to build the data driven decision making and SOP's necessary to truly improve and optimize your processes.  

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Is a heavy reliance on tribal knowledge the reason you are stuck in a state of reaction?

Tribal knowledge

the unwritten information that is not commonly known by others within a company.

If Tribal Knowledge has its grip on your non-core processes, its time to see if there is a better way.  Zimmark's World Class Performance Variability Assessment, sniffs out tribal knowledge and looks for ways to build the data driven decision making and SOP's necessary to truly improve and optimize your processes.  

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"Everything in Manufacturing is a Process, Everything" but it does beg the question, is it a good Process?

At Zimmark we like Data and try not to assume anything.  We suspect before we know and then use data and time to confirm.


That said, we do have two real knowns:

  1. Everything in Manufacturing is a process, 
  2. The best way to optimize any process is to identify the inputs that affect the outputs and establish robust process controls to ensure timely corrective actions are occurring to deliver world class process performance.  

Zimmark's Technical Process Management system is built around executing to a plan, a plan that changes based on the data as we work to balance performance and cost.  Designed to maximize available resources, Z-TPM helps clients looking to move from a reactive/preventative maintenance culture to one where data drives day to day activity.


Doing more with less can not be an arbitrary reduction in resources, it needs to be a planned and controlled strategy.  Z-TPM helps you get there.  

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Which one of these lines is longer?


In his brilliant and high energy Ted Talk, Eddie Obeng challenges us to question everything we think we know.  He argues that the pace of information and data has flipped everything we "know" on its ear.  Because the rate of change has out paced the rate of our ability to learn, conclusions or truths we believed about in the past, don't hold up in today's world.  Things that were impossible once, are no longer impossible,  Cause and effect that existed not so long ago, no longer holds true as new rules, technologies and insights change the game.  

How does that relate to these lines? Well, which one is longer?  I bet you would have said they are the same because it was what we were taught in grade school to show us Parallax


We said it without thinking or evaluating.  We did it without data and we did it without any real thought, we already "knew" the answer.


But what if the rules had changed?  what if instead of using this as an example to illustrate Parallax, this is an example to illustrate that knowns are not always knowns, in a world where the pace of change out strips our ability to learn and keep up?


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Reacting vs Using Data to Manage Change


I visited a client last week that was living the all too common reality that seems to currently exist in the parts Manufacturing Industry.   Due to a shortage in skilled trades, and record setting production levels, their maintenance department was in a constant state of reaction.  

Touring through the facility, they had over 100 stand alone machining applications with dozens of wash processes.  In my half hour tour, more than 3 different operators approached my Maintenance Lead-Hand-Tour-Guide requesting that something be filled, changed or adjusted.  As confirmed by my contact, the facility was just getting by with their existing maintenance team.  They recently had 4 of their more senior staff members retire and due to a combination of head count restrictions from corporate together with trouble finding qualified candidates, the maintenance department was stuck in reactive mode with little hope of getting out.   They were reacting to the squeakiest wheel, trying hard to keep up with productions demands.  

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Poor Emulsion Stability Leads to Excessive Coolant Consumption

We were contacted earlier this month by a client that suspected that the high volumes of waste being generated by their tramp oil skimmer systems was in fact coolant product oil. This technicians concern was that coolant he was adding to the system wasn't having the chance to emulsify and as a result, it was floating on top and being removed by their skimmer systems.    He asked us to investigate. 



Now this facility has a big challenge on their hands, over 100 stand alone machining centers and no central coolant delivery system.  Each system is managed independently, which can lead to "huge" variability in the condition of the coolant in each over time.   They are only using RI to measure and manage their coolant, and as we know, though RI is great for virgin products, it gets extremely inaccurate once the fluid gets contaminated with tramp oils and particulate, and when the emulsion stability starts to weaken.  

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Preventative Maintenance is not Always the Answer

Any time there's a quality event and the customer is involved, the problem needs to be contained, it needs to be fixed...ASAP.  The problem is, in the absence of good data, it's difficult to know what really happened that led to the quality event.  The containment action tends to be an all encompassing "re-set" of the process as we try to bring everything back to its original state when everything was working well (ie a machine clean-out).  If the problem goes away, everyone celebrates and gets back to business.  If the quality event was big enough, a new Preventative Maintenance schedule gets established, and now the system is being re-set at a higher frequency.  The problem is, every re-set is expensive, requires down-time and hurts productivity.  AND it might not even address the real problem that's causing the quality issue to begin with. 


Attached is a case study we did for one of our clients.  They struggled constantly meeting a new cleanliness specification imposed by a new client.  The initial reaction was to increase the target concentration of the chemical cleaner and increase the dump & Recharge frequency.  Both would have resulted in higher operating costs.  Since they didn't have the time or resources to do a true 5-Why study to determine the KPI's that were impacting their cleanliness, we were asked to help.  The case study below outlines the steps we took to isolate the variables that were having a direct impact on part cleanliness.  By understanding the specific KPI's that were affecting cleanliness we were able to use condition based management vs time based preventative measures to keep the process in control and costs optimized.   

CI-220 Part Cleanliness Process Capabili
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Shocking News From Alabama, fortunately no one was hurt.


Zimmark Service Technician Micheal Burgess received a minor shock on April 11th 2018 when he reached down to test a tether float in the Gravity Filter Tank at our PRA site in Alabama.  Micheal immediately informed his supervisor (Ken Attard).  The customer was informed of the incident and the incident was recorded under their HSE Requirements.  Micheal was not injured and did not require any medical attention.







Treated, recycled Wash Water gravity drains from a 3000G into a 75G filter tank and circulates back to the tank via additional filtration.  Floats were recently installed on the filter tank to shut off the gravity follow automatically.   Michael was demonstrating the float operation to a new employee when he felt the shock.  Power was immediately disconnected from the floats following the incident.  The system is being operated manually pending an on site investigation to be conducted by David Nelson during week of April 23. 


The floats were installed 2 weeks prior.  A new model tether float had been used as it permitted operation within a shorter operating range.   The float has not been used in any other Zimmark application.






Power was from float was disconnected.

Pending further investigation, Zimmark’s equipment department has suspended use of Dayton Float Switch, Mechanical, Normally Closed, Zoro part no G1845313.







The 115VAC 10A float was used in a non hazardous fluid (pH 9.1) at approx 120˚F.  The max temp for the unit is listed as 140˚F.



Yes.  The floats were tested repeatedly by David Nelson following initial installation



An incident like this has never happened before.  Zimmark uses commercially available control systems.


The investigation may identify preventative measures we can take following the install to ensure there is never any risk of electrical exposure. 

How KPI driven execution translates into increased OEE and overall cost reduction


With over 40 CNC machining sumps, our client had used a chemical management company to take care of all their coolant sumps, coolant recycling and machine PM clean outs. The program relied primarily on Time-Based checks and corrective actions to keep the fluids operating. Their goal was to move to a more data driven program where analyzing process KPI’s allowed for tighter process controls while identifying opportunities for continual process improvement. They selected Zimmark’s Technical Process Management Service due to our focus on data driven execution as well as the strong compliance systems and specialized expertise we provide for Metal working fluid applications.


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Using KPI Data To Drive Improvement

Sharing a quick story of a customer who decided to use our condition based coolant management program to achieve sustainable cost savings.



With over 110 stand alone coolant applications, our customer was using regular system clean-outs as a strategy to minimize risk that fluid condition would be the cause of any operational or H&S related issue. With a contract clean-out labor force in place, operators would make the judgement of when their systems needed to be adjusted or emptied. 

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Our Technicians are busy conducting fluid testing and machine TPM services in North Carolina.

Process control and machine maintenance are important aspects to be managed when companies are looking to ensure high performing processes are being maintained cost effectively. Zimmark’s Technical Process Management services are helping our client in North Carolina improve their process control and TPM compliance by taking on responsibility for the condition of their metal working fluids, washer fluids and equipment hydraulic systems.

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Would you eat that hot dog that was dropped on the floor in a public bathroom?

No, most of us don’t want to put contaminated food into our body. Then why would you use contaminated equipment when handling and topping up your machine’s hydraulic systems? The same logic applies with proper equipment lubrication methods. Machines don’t like contaminated oil in their hydraulic systems.

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Change the oil or change the culture?  (Chapter 1- Defining the Real Problem)

We heard a great line the other day. “It took us 30 years to get here; if we can lay out a plan to get us where we want in just 6 months, I’m all for it!” This statement came from one of our clients, an Engineering Manager who was talking about the state of his facility’s oiling and lubrication program. 


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LOTO - Lock-Out Tag Out

Lock Out - Tag Out, reviewing LOTO training with Tim in Greeneville TN

Safety is Zimmark’s #1 priority. As contracted guests in our client’s facilities, all Zimmark employees must be both trained and certified in customer, Zimmark and OSHA requirements. 

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Rusty Parts!

Do we really focus on finding the root cause?

Having spent over 11 years in the automotive industry, working in a cast iron machining environment, I was no stranger to rust. Whether it was found in WIP inventory, at the customer or heaven forbid in our part inventory bank, controlling corrosion was an ongoing challenge.  Rust always seemed to be that uninvited guest that would occasionally show up even though you swore you did everything you could to prevent him from coming, and by “everything” I mean all the containment and corrective actions you had every tried after having a rust event.

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A story about how layered audits helped identify the impact of CI initiatives at site

Layered Audits, a short story about my ZQ Audit last week with Nick and the effectiveness of fluid decontamination

I was recently visiting a customer facility to conduct a ZQ audit with our Account Supervisor Nick reviewing Zimmark’s onsite Technicians and equipment, focused on our safety & quality systems. During our audit we selected to review a small sump side coalescer that was removing tramp oil from a small machining sump. 

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Sustaining RO Water System

Our Fluid Tech Tayler is sampling and inspecting our RO Unit to ensure water quality performance is being maintained.

Are you spending top dollar on your industrial chemistry but unaware of the water quality it is blended with?  The water likely makes up >90% of the solution in your systems.   Does your facility have hard water which negatively impacts your manufacturing processes’ chemical performance leading to rust, high chemical consumption and excessive PMs?  Do you know how your water quality is impacting the performance of you coolants and wash chemistries?

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Centrifuge used to manage contamination levels in a large central system

Tom and Daryl are installing a portable centrifuge to decontaminate a large central system.

Have a major hydraulic leak contaminating your central coolant system? Not a problem, no need to dump and recharge the system. As part of our technical service solutions, Zimmark provided a mobile centrifuge to connect to a large central coolant system to remove the contaminated oil avoiding fluid waste costs, coolant cost and unplanned downtime. To ensure centrifuge effectiveness, Zimmark monitors the KPI's that effect fluid quality over time.

Interested in learning more about our other solutions?


Part 2 of 2 - 6 Process Types that are holding you back from Reaching World Class Manufacturing Standards

everything is a process

This post is based on one key premise.  Every aspect of manufacturing is a process, every one. 

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Reviewing Alerts is a critical piece to keeping the process in control and to identify CI opportunities

Lisa is thoroughly reviewing her morning Limit Alert Reports for our client in KY

Ensuring process compliance and reviewing corrective actions is a standard practice with every Zimmark Technical Process Management service.

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Data and Analytics, the keys to Continual Improvement

Preparing monthly performance reports for our client in South Bend, IN.

Every Zimmark technical process management service includes monthly performance reports. Each month, reports are generated from our system and reviewed by our technical managers to ensure process compliance, allowing us to use KPI data collected by our technicians every day and make data driven decision such as control plan adjustments, corrective actions or identify continual improvement opportunities that help improve our client’s process performance and reduce their overall costs.

Click here to learn more : DATA DRIVEN DECISION MAKING

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Controlling Coolant Concentration in Ancaster

Mike is hard at work testing and topping up in Ancaster, ON.

Mike is a Zimmark Fluid Technician trained to perform onsite testing and corrective actions to maintain our customer’s process compliance. Mike is responsible for maintaining 59 machines daily, monitoring machining coolant, washer chemistry, hydraulic oil analysis and oily waste water performance.


To learn more , click here:  How it Works

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Part 1 of 2 - 6 Types of Processes that are holding you back from Reaching World Class Manufacturing Standards

everything is a process-part 1

W. Edwards Deming extolled a philosophy of continual optimization.  It focused on delivering the highest quality products at the maximum yield, requiring minimal effort, generating the lowest waste possible.   In order to do that, he made a very important and critical distinction:  EVERYTHING that a business does, is a process, EVERYTHING.  It can be measured, it can be compared, it can be quantified, and it can be improved.  

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In search of the very best coolant

Lisa and Rachel are busy in our lab this week wrapping up an independent coolant evaluation.

Product independence and complete commercial objectivity gives Zimmark a unique unbiased perspective.  Our Independent Fluid Evaluations are designed to test the KPI's that drive cost and impact performance to help our customer’s determine what the optimum product is for their facility.  The goal is to reduce their overall operating costs while improving fluid performance, by applying science and data to determine a decision.


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Wow, look what a little focused elbow grease can do!

Our technicians Nick & Tayler hard at work this week in Tillsonburg, ON

Cleaning our Client's part washers as part of their equipment maintenance program to sustain process performance. Great job guys!

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Reliableplant 2016

zimmark presents 6 key elements for world class manufacturers at reliableplant 2016 in Louisville







Zimmark is presenting the "6 Keys Elements for World Class Manufacturing" at the Reliable Plant Conference in Louisville KY during the week of April 5.  

The focus of the presentation will be to highlight that the World Class manufacturing ideal (ie 100% quality, 100% On-Time at the lowest cost possible), is a relentlessly iterative process where companies need to be evaluating all the processes that exist within their facility to identify the ones that are not optimized and/or poorly integrated with their core operations.  Since a "chain is only as strong as its weakest Link" many facilities are letting non-core processes limit their profitability and throughput.  The challenge with non-core processes is that what makes them non-core is the lack of in-house expertise and/or sustainable robust systems and/or a focused data driven accountable labor force required to ensure the process stays in a controlled and improving state.  


In the presentation we identify 6 different process symptoms that need to be  assessed to determine if a step change in profitability/availability is possible,  Technology is changing so quickly that unless plants are updating their processes to take advantage of these technological improvements, they will have trouble keeping up with world class productivity levels.  


We will be presenting on Tuesday April 5, 2016 in Room 101, at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Hope to see you there!




Variability: The Root of All Evil

how kpi variability drives costs and impacts productivity


Un-managed variability of the Key Performance indicators that impact cost, process performance and quality is the root of all evil in a parts manufacturing environment.

In a parts manufacturing environment, variability is the bane of everyone's existence.  As acceptable product specifications get tighter and tighter, the degree of allowable variation continues to shrink.  However as companies try and "Lean-out" their process, they realize even variation that exists within acceptable limits can be a significant source of waste or wasteful activity.  Variability therefore is either the source of significant manufacturing events requiring urgent containment actions, or it is a source of wasteful activity that needs to be addressed in order to compete in a global market where every cost has to be closely scrutinized and evaluated.  

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Rust Season?  "Just Raise the Concentration"

the impact of higher concentration on coolant performance and cost

I was visiting a plant last week and heard a familiar tale.  We had just completed a Non-Core Process Audit, (where we measure the Key Performance Indicators that drive cost and impact process performance to identify wasteful activity and process risk), and we were reporting our findings.  Across the board their coolant concentrations were significantly higher than their posted targets. 

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Einstein's Definition of Insanity:  "Preventative Maintenance"....well sort of....

time based preventative maintenance generates waste while still leaving the process at risk and no room for ci

Einstein's quote "The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result"  can describe many Preventative Maintenance programs today.  Every company is under tremendous pressure to reduce costs. They are looking for a different result, a better bottom line, but they are using the same old strategies to try and deliver it. 

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