From the desk of Ben Rassieur: Data and automation
Whether we like it or not, we’re living in an age where an unprecedented amount of data is available. Innovators the world over are looking to it to gain an edge, from making smarter cities to transforming the game of baseball, just to cite a couple of examples from recent headlines. It should come as no surprise, then, that data and the automation it makes possible have something to add to the business of heat treating.
The thermal, metallurgical and chemical processes behind heat treating have been understood for a long time, but more recent advancements like high-speed data collection, real-time analysis, and simple, intuitive user interfaces have opened up a treasure trove of data to those who know how to make use of it. Oftentimes, though, it’s figuring out how to make sense of all the available data is a company’s biggest challenge. It’s no different in heat treating, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.
At Paulo, we harness data through a system known as the Product Information and Customer Service System, or PICS. Designed by Paulo’s own managers, metallurgists and engineers and software developers, PICS wrangles data from all five of our divisions from the time an order is placed to the moment payment is received and an order is considered complete. It’s a purpose-built system that allows us to extract an incredible amount of empirical information from our heat treating operations to find out what works and how we can drive improvement. The benefits for our business are many, but can largely be placed in two categories: quality and customer service.
From a process control standpoint, PICS allows us to keep key production details like time, temperature and essential equipment instructions under a microscope. This gives us the confidence to execute orders on-time and under budget the first time. It cuts down on improperly executed orders and helps with quality control. Our large process database means that repeat orders are just that: run in a repeatable, automated process time-after-time. Our real-time process monitor will flag any deviation in the process. Our real-time capture of inspection data provides reliable certifications and traceability of process results.
And from a customer satisfaction standpoint, PICS is also helping us to deliver. The production management component of the software helps us to meet our customers’ tight deadlines with enviable reliability. And because they can always check in on the process, PICS is helping to limit anxiety and eliminate miscommunications. Order status is now available on-line or over the phone. Customers can choose self-service, email notifications, or a traditional telephone call direct to the Paulo team members who write the orders, schedule the work or ship it.
So when we say that we’re always looking for ways in which we can help our customers succeed, it’s not an empty statement. At Paulo, we’re using data all the time to improve customer satisfaction and to ensure the quality of the work we do.
Data helps us to honor the commitments we make to our customers. Is your heat treating partner making use of it?