Synthane Taylor Blog

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

Do you ever have to wait for someone else to finish a task before you can get on with your own work?

Do you have a large inventory of unsold stock?

Do you order materials months in advance of when they are needed?

How about flexibility? If consumers want a modification to your product, can you quickly change your processes to meet their needs?

LeanchartThe core idea behind lean manufacturing is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

Eliminating waste along entire value streams creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at lower costs and with fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. Companies are able to respond to changing customer needs with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.

Where Do We Minimize Waste?

Waste is anything that doesn't add value to the end product. In Lean Manufacturing, there are eight categories of waste that you should monitor:

1.    Overproduction – Are you producing more than consumers demand?
2.    Waiting – How much lag time is there between production steps?
3.    Inventory (work in progress) – Are your supply levels and work in progress inventories too high?
4.    Transportation – Do you move materials efficiently?
5.    Over-processing – Do you work on the product too many times, or otherwise work inefficiently?
6.    Motion – Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?
7.    Defects – How much time do you spend finding and fixing production mistakes?
8.    Workforce – Do you use workers efficiently?

When lean manufacturing is properly applied, all expenditures, resources and activities that do not create value for the customer are eliminated.

A well- executed lean manufacturing strategy will:
•    improve labour productivity and reduce labour costs
•    reduce total cycle time
•    keep inventory at optimal levels; increase working capital
•    decrease the physical motion of the product flow
•    significantly reduce product defects
•    create organizational capacity to grow

With a lean philosophy, you enjoy the benefit of continuous improvement. So, rather than making rapid, irregular changes that are disruptive to the workplace, you make small and sustainable changes that the people who actually work with the processes, equipment, and materials will take forward.

Learn more about Lean Manufacturing

Photo: http://www.buker.com/lean-manufacturing



Topics: manufacturing, lean manufacturing

Solving the Long Lead Time Challenge

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Fri, Dec 06, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

standoff insulatorSynthane Taylor is committed to excellence in customer service and part of what moves us to action is finding ways to work with customers on the challenges they face and together coming up with solutions that work. We'd like to share this story:

Background:

Synthane Taylor recently connected with a leading supplier of quality engineered electrical parts to discuss their standoff insulator needs. This company has been in business over 35 years and provides quality custom-built switchgear for a wide variety of applications. They manufacture medium voltage switchgear, arc-resistant switchgear, bus duct, control, metering and relaying panel, and customized electrical equipment for industrial and utility customers both nationally and internationally.

Situation:

Synthane Taylor approached the company at a time when they were looking for better customer service and faster delivery turnarounds than they were getting from their current supplier. The customer had concern about the long lead time attached to the parts they needed as their requirements were in significant volume (e.g. 3000 to 20,000 units per order).  Although the standoff insulator is a small part, the customer had to halt production if there were none in stock. A lead time of eight weeks was not unrealistic for this part and extended periods of downtime were costing the company money.

Solution:

Through collaboration with the customer, Synthane Taylor was able to develop a stocking program that helped alleviate the long lead time issue that was plaguing the customer. With accurate forecasts, the customer was able to provide targets to Synthane Taylor who would then insure that they could very quickly turn around at least 50% of the total order. This enabled the customer to continue with production and eliminate downtime while the balance of the order was being processed.

Result:

Synthane Taylor has demonstrated to the customer that they are not only about selling a product. Their primary concern is to develop solutions that help customers improve productivity and maintain healthy bottom lines. By making a commitment to the customer, the customer has also made a commitment to Synthane Taylor. They have, in fact, brought additional business to Synthane Taylor primarily because of the service they had received and the follow up that was provided.

Are you experiencing a lead time challenge? Contact Synthane Taylor today and let us brainstorm a solution with you.

Topics: standoff insulators, customer service

Mechanical Insulation Best Practices from Thermal Insulation Assoc of Canada

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 16:11 PM

The members of the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada (www.tiac.ca), professionals in the manufacturing, fabrication, distribution and installation or removal of insulation materials, have determined that a “Best Practices Guide” consistent across Canada, would be of great benefit to the entire industry.

The data presently in publication across Canada varies greatly within the "design-build” community, insulation manufacturers, trade associations, contractors and individual owners or clients. To compile a set of reference materials in one document that can be maintained current, with timely updates, can only improve the economics and quality of the product supplied to the insulation customer. It will also improve the time required to estimate and the accuracy of contracts tendered by contractors.

This guide has been developed with the intent to make available a reference which can be utilized for most insulation projects in Canada. The TIAC Best Practices Guide is not meant to override Provincial specifications and other specialized project specifications. The material selection portion of the Guide is not an endorsement of any particular product nor is it the intent to suggest that products not included are not to be regarded as not acceptable alternatives.

This Guide has been prepared based on manufacturers technical information provided, however it is the specification writer's responsibility to ensure that all products comply with applicable codes, regulations and standards.

The TIAC Best Practices Guide is made up in different sections, focusing on specific areas of the industry. The document will be updated on a timely basis, to maintain a current reference point to assist in system design, material usage and application practice.

Download the guide here:  http://www.tiac.ca/en/specifications/download.shtml

Topics: thermal insulation, mechanical insulation

Relocating Your Transformer

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

svc hauling

 

 

 

Photo courtesy: http://www.spxtransformersolutions.com/services/installation.html

Transformers vary in size and weight depending on application. A typical mineral oil filled transformer can weigh between 7,000 and 400,000 pounds and range in size from 134,000 cubic inches to over 4 million cubic inches.

So how does one go about getting these vast pieces of equipment from where they are manufactured to their final destination?

There are companies specifically equipped to manage such a monumental move and their years of experience and skill make them the ideal choice for relocation.  Beyond the strength of the movers and their equipment, expertise in project management, engineering and transformer operations is critical for a successful move. The transport team needs to be fully versed with the manufacturer’s specifications as well as the customer’s requirements to ensure everything gets into place correctly the first time.

Here are the Basic Steps to Relocate Your Transformer:
1)    Disassemble – separate the unit  into components to be moved
2)    Package – prepare parts for shipment
3)    Load – onto truck, railcar (includes coordinating the right transportation for the size of transformer)
4)    Haul – coordinate rigger and heavy hauler to load move and unload the unit onto customer foundation (this includes obtaining all the appropriate clearances as required by various jurisdictions)
5)    Assemble – reassemble parts removed for shipment
6)    Oil Handling – remove, transport and process oil
7)    Test – conduct full range of tests to verify the new or relocated unit is ready for service

This brief list makes the process look simple - it is anything but. Any number of things can go wrong which is why you need a skilled team with plenty of field experience who can think and respond quickly to challenges.

 Watch this incredible time lapse video of a move!

Topics: unusual transportation, transformer

Weird and Wonderful Modes of Transportation

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

segway picEvery day we use some form of transportation. Whether we walk to our car, drive to the train station, or take a cab to the airport people are designed to move. Most of the time we don’t give it much thought and the way we get from A to B becomes as commonplace as breathing.  We wanted to have a little fun and highlight some of the more interesting methods of transport we’ve come across. Enjoy!

Segway:

The Segway Human Transporter (Personal Transporter) is a self-balancing, electric-powered transportation device able to turn in place and designed for one person with a top speed of 20 km/h. The Segway contains five gyroscopes that allow it to balance at a standstill and you ride it by standing upright on the raised platform between two wheels. Leaning forward will propel you forward while leaning back will slow and stop you. There are sensors in the platform that detect subtle shifts in weight and respond to them accordingly and you steer by leaning in the direction you wish to go.

 

 

Cargo bikes:

cargo bikeBicycles are a wonderful, lightweight and easy to maneuver form of transportation. The drawback, however, is that they are ideal for moving a person – not their belongings. Enter the cargo bike. With more and more municipalities looking at creating bike lanes to encourage this mode of transportation and the continuing grid lock experienced in urban centers, people are picking up their bikes more frequently. With added functionality, the cargo bike enables riders to accomplish much more with two wheels.

 

 

 

Motorcycle:

motorcycle02 (1)Fuel efficient and fun to ride, the motorcycle has been a trusted form of transportation for over a century. While you may be most familiar with names such as Harley Davidson, Honda or Suzuki, take a look at what we found on the ‘unusual’ side of the motorcycle spectrum.

 

 

 

Hovercraft:

hovercraftA hovercraft, is an air-cushion vehicle that is capable of travelling over land, water, mud or ice and other surfaces both at speed and when stationary. Originally designed in the 1950s and 1960s, hovercraft are now used throughout the world as specialised transports in disaster relief, coastguard, military and survey applications as well as for recreation or passenger service. 

 

 

 

 

Rocket:

rocketAlthough a rocket is a missile or spacecraft that obtains its thrust from a rocket engine, the word ‘rocket’ is often used as a verb to describe the speed with which something moves. This is taken from the way the rocket is pushed forward by propelling its exhaust backwards at extremely high speeds. Rockets are what have enabled us to propel humans into space.

 What is the most unusual form of transportation you can think of? Share in the comments.

Sources: Melim Cycles; Toxel; Universal Hovercraft; Cnet; Segway

 

Topics: transportation, unusual transportation, segway, hovercraft, cycle

Electrical Insulation for TTC Subway Extension Project

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 @ 09:09 AM

TTC subway buildBackground
In September 1949 construction began on ‘Canada’s First Subway’ in downtown Toronto. This was a massive undertaking that continued until 1954 with the completion of the Yonge subway between Union Station and Eglinton Station. The one municipal service that prospered during the war years was public transit because gas rationing limited the use of automobiles.

Fast forward to today and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is currently undergoing expansion. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Project will provide a critical extension for the existing TTC subway system across the municipal boundary between the City of Toronto and The Regional Municipality of York (York Region) and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016. Click here to see construction in progress.
 
Situation:
The needs for such a monumental infrastructure project are varied. With an estimated cost of $2.6 billion the TTC extended multiple tenders for different components of the job. Among the construction elements was a coverboard for the electrified third rail in the subway. This piece acts as a safety device protecting workers from electrocution. At one time these coverboards were made of wood but over time environmental conditions caused them to deteriorate so a more robust material was required. Fiberglass was chosen for its environmental and fire retardant qualities.

Solution:
Synthane Taylor participated in the bid process along with six other companies. The coverboard tender required a total of 3080 units of 19-foot pultruded lengths of fibreglass coverboards for a total length of 17.8 kilometers.  While Synthane Taylor were not the lowest bidder, they won the contract on a combination of price and excellent delivery ability.  Due to previous experience with TTC projects, Synthane Taylor were the ideal candidate for the job as they had already developed procedures and production methods that ensured efficiency. This enabled them to have the first shipment ready in just over a week. No other supplier could offer that turnaround. With tight schedules this was a priority for the TTC and they were pleased to work with a familiar supplier who had produced quality insulating materials for them several times over the past decade.

Result:
Installation commenced in August 2013 and is continuing through September. When complete the length of the subway extension will be 8.6 km consisting of 6.2 km from Downsview Station to Steeles West (in Toronto) and 2.4 km from Steeles West Station to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station (in York Region). This will be the first Toronto Transit Commission rapid transit line to cross the City of Toronto boundary.
Using the fibreglass coverboards provides this extension with a more modern design that will last much longer than its wooden counterpart. The coverboards will also contribute significantly to the safety features within the subway system.
To learn more about this exciting transit project visit the TTC website

TTC Coverboard
 Cross section of TTC Electrical Coverboard

Topics: safety, electrical insulation, electric insulator, coverboard

Adhesive Solutions for the Electronics Industry

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Tue, Sep 03, 2013 @ 15:09 PM

subway electronicsNothing worse than when things fall apart. Synthane Taylor recently worked with a customer to come up with an adhesive solution. Read the story here:

Background:
For close to four decades our customer has provided design, engineering, manufacturing and installation services to a variety of industries throughout the U.S. and Canada including public transportation, restaurant services, electric power utility and machine tool builders. In addition, this company provides services such as mechanical design, circuit design and PCB layout, software design, and offers installation assistance as well as field service assignments or investigations.

Situation:
During a field service, the end-user had voiced concerns that a fibreglass enclosure housing an electronic sender underneath transit vehicles was not performing adequately. It was determined that there was a problem with the adhesive that holds the box together. As a result, minor impacts would destroy the box exposing the delicate electronics to the elements.

Solution:
The client needed to find a more resilient adhesive that would hold the box components together under vibration and impact situations as would be experienced under the vehicle. Synthane Taylor researched and located a selection of epoxy options with a focus on toughness and flexibility in addition to setting and curing quickly. They then requested that the client come to assess the effectiveness of the alternatives.

To prepare for testing, Synthane Taylor assembled several mock-up boxes using a different adhesive for each one. The client was given safety glasses and a large mallet and asked to test the strength of the different adhesives. After much testing the client chose the adhesive he felt worked the best and it was used in the following production run. As is often the case, a solution was born out of an engineering necessity.

Result:
The customer was delighted to have been given a number of options to choose from and they have been extremely satisfied with the result. The new epoxy is easier to apply thereby improving production efficiencies and the final product is securely assembled. The end-user has enjoyed an increase in longevity for the electronic sender boxes saving time and money and decreasing downtime. This client situation enabled Synthane Taylor to add to their roster several epoxy alternatives for use in a variety of applications.

Topics: electronics, adhesive, fibreglass, epoxy solution

How Does a Smart Electrical Grid Work?

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:08 PM

“A smart grid is a modernized electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid

smart grid illustrationThe North American power grid is an incredibly complex system, with a web of more than 340,000 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines connecting thousands of generating stations, tens of thousands of transformers and control stations, and millions of homes and businesses. Many regions in North America are moving towards a smart grid — one with a built-in information infrastructure that allows the entire grid to be monitored and controlled from a distance.

Here are some of the key ways the smart grid could interact with a typical home:

Smart meter: These are the first components of the smart grid being installed in homes across the country. They're "smart" because they're hooked up to the utility's information network. That means they can be read and monitored remotely by both the utility and the customer, and they allow the utility to charge higher rates during peak usage periods, to encourage people to use power at cheaper, off-peak hours.

Smart appliances: Fridges, dishwashers and other devices hooked up to the utility's information network can make users aware when peak pricing is in effect. They can automatically reduce power use during peak periods, e.g., a smart dryer may turn off one of its heaters. They can also postpone power-hungry operations until off-peak periods, e.g., a refrigerator may delay turning on its defrost system and a dishwasher may be scheduled to run after midnight.

Smart thermostat: Thermostats and other smart energy systems can be programmed and monitored remotely via the internet. For example, the heat can be turned down on a cold day when no one is home.

Power generation: The smart grid will make it possible for individual customers to generate power using solar or wind energy and feed it back into the grid when they have a surplus.

Energy storage: The battery of an electric car stores energy that can theoretically be sold back to the grid at a higher price during peak times.

Not only will the smart grid make it easier to make use of small, renewable power sources and respond to outages, but governments hope the exchange of information between customers and utilities will help encourage people to reduce their power consumption during peak hours.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/03/11/f-power-2020-smart-grid.html

Topics: smart grid, electrical grid, power generation

Why Electrical Insulation is Important to Your Stators

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 @ 09:08 AM

electricmotorSirens, electric motors and electric generators are examples of machines that rely on a stator. Made up of electrically-insulated windings and an iron core, stators vary in size. But they’re always an essential part of rotary systems.

A stator generally plays the role of an armature, which does two jobs. First, it carries current to create torque in a rotating machine.
Second, it generates electromotive force. If the stator itself isn’t a machine’s armature, it acts as a field magnet. This means it uses the armature’s electromotive force to cause a machine to rotate.

Electrical insulation for a stator is necessary to ensure a rotary system’s longevity. It separates the stator from thermal heat that wires generate. Insulation for a stator’s windings is typically bonded with either epoxy or asphalt polyester.

Unfortunately, electrical insulation can deteriorate from thermal, mechanical and environmental stresses if not monitored. Electrical insulation deterioration can lead to either hefty repair costs or irreversible damages. This is partly because the stator will incur core losses. Essentially, a rotary system will lose energy in its stator’s iron core. Because of the lost energy, a motor has to use more power to work.

However, partial discharge (PD) is a more severe consequence of poor insulation. PD comes from a breakdown of a small portion of solid, fluid or gaseous electrical insulation. This usually occurs under stress from high voltage. As a result, energy, which is typically in the form of heat, is dispersed. As PD becomes more frequent, insulating materials rapidly deteriorate. Electrical breakdown and complete failure are common consequences. When electrical insulation for a stator can’t do its job, a rotary system won’t last long.

This is why high quality, up-to-date electrical insulation or stators is essential. It will ensure a rotary system lives a long life without crippling repair costs.

Topics: electrical insulation, stator, motor, electric motor

Stop Equipment Aging In It's Tracks!

Posted by Marnie Hughes on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

Here is a recent customer story we'd like to share:

electric arc furnaceBackground:  
Steel products are an integral part of people’s daily lives and can be found virtually everywhere: in the structure of homes, shopping centers, hospitals, bridges and hydroelectric plants, vehicles and farming equipment.  One world-renowned steel manufacturer employs over 40,000 and boasts locations throughout North America. This company serves customers all over the world in industries such as construction, industrial, and agricultural. The company offers a diverse product range from multiple locations, making flexibility and adaptability to customer needs and service primary concerns.

Situation:
One of the electric arc furnaces had begun experiencing ‘arcing’.  This could result in injury to workers or severe and irreparable damage to the furnace itself. To replace the electric arc furnace would have been cost prohibitive and required a great deal of down time (which could cost between $50,000 and $100,000 per day in lost revenue), so a solution to repair the damaged area needed to be found.

The company contacted Synthane Taylor and asked them to come to their plant in Western Canada to see the problem area of the electric arc furnace and meet with supervisors and engineers to brainstorm a solution.

Solution:
Synthane Taylor engineers and specialists flew out west where they worked with the customer and evaluated the electric arc furnace to see exactly where the arcing was taking place.  Together, they needed to figure out the best insulation part solution. Brainstorming sessions began and with Synthane Taylor’s expertise in material and application along with client expertise in tolerances within the furnace, the group came up with a viable, long-term solution.

While developing a permanent part, the team improvised a temporary fix using insulation materials provided by Synthane Taylor. This minimized downtime significantly so that the team could develop a final, permanent part to install. Within two weeks of their initial visit, Synthane Taylor and the client had developed final designs for the part to be developed and complete turnaround time for this project was 4 to 6 weeks.

Result:
Being able to create a temporary and then permanent solution with Synthane Taylor materials and expertise meant that the client experienced very little downtime saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. This part also means that the furnace will be functioning at peak efficiency.

The client is pleased with the solution. The new insulation part is custom engineered for fit and function, meaning that all steel components are well insulated for a safer piece of equipment.  Not only is the work environment safer for their employees, the insulation solution was cost effective and saved the client a significant amount of money.

Synthane Taylor’s ability to collaborate in developing short term and long term solutions for this client speak to their expertise in engineering applications for insulation materials. The Synthane Taylor priority on customer service is what enabled them to mobilize quickly, go to the customer, and develop innovative solutions.

The equipment has been running well since the new part has been installed and the client has gone on to purchase other insulation parts for other equipment. Synthane Taylor has gained and retained a valuable new client relationship.

Topics: steel mills, electric arc furnaces, steel industry, insulation materials