Six Sigma and The Compressor Room

Throughout my undergrad courses as well as during my professional career I have encountered Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing in many facilities.  There is at least one component to the theory that can be implemented into any facility with a compressor room. That component is the practice of the 5 S’s.

The 5 S’s of Lean Manufacturing come from the Japanese terms  listed below with their English translations:

Seiri – Sort (Organize)
Seiton – Set in Order (Orderliness)
Seiso – Shine (Cleanliness)
Seiketsu – 
Standardize
Shitsuke –  Sustain (Discipline)

These 5 points can aid in keeping any air compressor room in a facility efficient, safe, and effectively supplying the company with compressed air. How you may ask.

Sort – Keeping a compressor room as originally laid out and preventing it from being a catch-all for items that have nothing to do with the compressed air system. This can easily happen when it is actually a room that has unused floor space in a small facility. By keeping the area clean and free of unrelated materials, maintenance and troubleshooting can be done quickly. Clear labeling of anything kept in the room is also ideal to make items easily identified.

Set in Order – To deliver the air in a single path/direction as well as keeping equipment in locations where they can be easy to maintain and clearly labeled eases the troubleshooting and understanding of how the system is laid out. Rather than having a spaghetti bowl of piping running all around the room to different components it is wiser to keep a flow that matches the process. From the compressor(s) to the receivers, dryers, filter, and regulators, out to the point of use. This shouldn’t be a tangled web of piping that introduces air to a process which bypasses key components such as the dryer or receivers.

Block diagram of a compressor room layout.

Shine – The compressor room shouldn’t be a dirty grungy area. The compressor pulls the air in from this environment. Any exposed components easily collect airborne debris. By keeping the equipment clean again makes labels easy to read and a clean machine is always easier to perform maintenance and sometimes even troubleshoot. If there are puddles of oil or other liquids on the floor and no surfaces are clean then any leak may not be easily spotted.

Standardize – The layout and processes used within the room should be repeatable. Maintenance tasks should be performed on a schedule, per a process that doesn’t allow for much differentiation on methods and end results. This mitigates errors and is always the desired result when focusing on lean manufacturing. LOWER THAT DELTA!

Sustain – This is sometimes the hardest part of any process. Getting the program up and running, starting with a fresh build is always the easiest.  Everything is fresh, new and you want to keep it shiny. Years later the desire to dust and maintain piping as well as keep receiver tanks and floors clean isn’t always at the top of the desired list.  It should always be a priority because cleanliness also promotes safety and reduces overhead by lowering downturns due to housekeeping related failures.

If you want to discuss how we can help lean out your compressed air usage, maintenance costs, and help to standardize the use of compressed air in your facility, contact an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer – Green Belt Certified
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Never Think Your Idea Will Not Be Heard

The above title proved very true in a work experience of my father’s. After working in the mill for several years, he drew up a new piece of process equipment which would eventually turn in to something that they put in place on the production line.   This was all done from his idea that he was able to place on a scrap piece of paper as a drawing.   While he wasn’t the decision maker in the process, he was the person who saw what kind of impact this device could have and knew the people he had to get the information to.

That brings me to the topic of this blog, don’t ever think an idea is too small to warrant a reward.  This can ring true throughout any type of application, including compressed air.  There have been instances where a maintenance worker, or even a new operator, have called in to speak to me here asking what can they do to lower the noise in the work area when they are using the hand held blow gun the company supplies.   After talking to them about what they are trying to achieve with the blow gun and how much air they are currently using, we generally find that they can save a good amount of compressed air, lower the noise level, and become OSHA compliant, all by changing this one simple tool.   Once they have all the benefits that their company will see from implementing our engineered solution, they can then propose this to the decision makers.

For the most part, companies will at the very least entertain ideas like this.  When you back that idea up with some relevant data on how much money the company will save, or the fact that is will make the work environment safer and more enjoyable, then you will more than likely get a little more attention.  The main point is to ensure that you are getting that information to the correct person and that you have the correct information.   That is one of the many reasons that EXAIR has a full team of Application Engineers who can help you identify how much air you might be using, what products will fit the need, and what kind of benefits your company will see.   On top of all the information that we have available for free, we even offer the chance to get compensation for sharing application data with us.

EXAIR Efficiency Lab
EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab will test your product for force, flow, and noise.

That’s right, we will compensate you for sharing your cost savings, sound level reductions or application improvements, with us.  This is all possible through our Case Study program.  All you have to do to find out more is contact any Application Engineer.  We simply need some photographs of the application and some quantitative data for the benefits you have gained.  Don’t know what your current device is using, take advantage of our EXAIR Efficiency Lab, that will give us a good amount of information we need to then, help you solve a problem as well as produce a Case Study.

If you would like to discuss your compressed air systems or how we can help you, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

5 Years Blogging

As Kirk Edwards mentioned earlier this week, we’ve blogged for more than 5 years now.  The EXAIR Blogstarted before I was part of EXAIR, and it continues to grow more and more with every post which is almost a daily occurrence.  If you look at some of the first blog posts they are fairly straight and to the point on applications, the first one even included a video of a popular application.

first blog

Now if you look at them, we don’t just cover applications, each Application Engineer has an individual voice and message that can almost always loop back to an experience here at EXAIR.  Over the years our blog has grown to include pictures, polls, and videos from all different areas, even some crazy videos from Professor Penurious (search “professor”).

When we started the blog, it launched EXAIR into the Social Media world, we now have a presence on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and You Tube.  Not only are we on these sites, we are constantly posting new information, new ideas, and new ways to utilize our products.   Over the five years we have seen some social media attempts from similar companies come and go.  We have also seen some stellar examples from other manufacturers. Oddly enough, the companies who have been able to sustain their social media campaigns and remain proactive also seem to sustain new product development and remain proactive with their customer service efforts. We consider ourselves in good company and have learned many things from other manufacturers who have chosen to remain committed to blogging and other social media platforms.

One reason we sustain and remain committed is to ensure that our customers have the most up to date information about optimizing your compressed air system.  We also enjoy being able to express our personalities through a different platform. We want you to have as many ways possible to contact us, learn about us, but also get a response.

If you have any questions, or would like some more information on anything we post on a social media site, feel free to contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF