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Top 6 Reasons Your Internal Organization Should Care About Surface Intelligence

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Intelligence is a funny thing. On its face, it seems like the best way to gauge intelligence is to measure one's capacity for maximum knowledge intake through rote memorization of facts and figures.

That sounds good, but it doesn't feel quite right.

Because we all know knowledge that's just piled up is relatively useless unless your only goal in life is to dominate at trivia night at your local bar.

Intelligence is about the application. Gathering, analyzing, and making new, informed decisions based on what the data tells you.

The same goes for surface intelligence in manufacturing. It's not enough just to know additional information about your material surfaces - you need to know what implications that information has on the entire manufacturing process.

Surfaces are much more sensitive to contamination than most manufacturers may think. They are constantly changing, because no matter how much we try to control everything, manufacturing occurs in dynamic environments. The top few molecular layers of a surface can shift massively depending on what's in the air, how materials are handled, how parts are stored and packaged, and even what the surface had on it when it came into the facility.

Surface intelligence goes beyond acquiring a new tool that spits out numbers. Instead, it's about leveraging data to make better decisions, develop more effective processes, and build more reliable products.

Let's look at the top six reasons organizations need to exercise their surface intelligence muscle to begin checking off more of their work objectives.

1. You Want to Stop Wasting Time

Time has a way of leaking out of a manufacturing process. And many holes in the bucket can leave organizations high and dry. Common time wasters include:

  • Protracted troubleshooting
  • Delays in solving the problem once it's identified
  • Difficulty translating the solution to the global supply chain
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Extensive time developing surfaces that bond properly
  • Complications from the inability to maintain a quality surface throughout the manufacturing process

Using surface intelligence, these issues are no longer a sluggish slog consisting of repetitive guesswork that brings productivity to a screeching halt.

Designing products and processes from a place of high surface intelligence means no longer waiting for the process to catch up. Instead, it's a proactive maneuver that places one of the most sensitive (and often overlooked) components of manufacturing at the center of the plan.

2. You Want to Stop Wasting Money

Rework, scrap, warranty claims, and returns are all quantifiable strikes against profitability. When an issue arises, depending on when it reveals itself, it can cause costly overhauls leading to unusable (read: money-wasting) materials. If faulty products make it to market, the cost can be more than just the refunds rendered. But the damage to an organization's reputation can have critical and long-term consequences.

Surface intelligence makes it possible to forestall all of these fiscal cliffs by ensuring data-driven processes have been installed to guarantee that every surface is perfectly prepared for adhesion and that every product meets the bond-reliability standard.

Automotive manufacturing giant, Ford Motor Company began taking a new approach to quality once a string of recalls forced their hand. Surface intelligence can help manufacturers avoid the money pit of excessive trial and error.

Beyond money being burned at the actual assembly level, the knock-on effects of delays can be catastrophic.

The cost of a delay in launching a product is a compounding sum that grows as solutions are attempted, personnel's hours get lengthened, new people are hired to try to speed up production, and more money is thrown at the issue. Getting to the solution fast by utilizing intelligence in surfaces empowers organizations to make informed decisions on the front end and shore up key areas of their process where surfaces are prone to change and need a higher level of management.

3. You Want to Stop Wasting the Talent of Your Employees

Some companies have one or two subject matter experts that are expected to tackle surface-related issues globally. This is not a scalable solution. And it wastes the talent of team members because the current ramping-up method requires years and years of experience to get the kind of expertise companies need in their facilities.

There is also an overreliance on the suppliers of wash chemistries and technical service or sales teams from the equipment manufacturers. They certainly know their stuff regarding their own products, but they don't have the surface intelligence necessary to thoroughly guide manufacturers to understanding their material surfaces.

Building experience and surface intelligence internally through easily gathered and communicated data is a scalable way to devote targeted expertise to problems that may not even have their root in the wash process. For example, the issues could result from improper handling, unchecked supply chains, or incompatible materials - things that can only be noticed by experts who are close to the manufacturing process.

The skills and expertise of these individuals could be better utilized to help create surface quality specifications for new products to ensure the quality of the products is high and reduce time to market.

4. You Want to Give Yourself Flexibility in Your Supply Chain

Companies need to operate in a way that brings manufacturing closer together and gives them more leeway in their supply chain. "Just-in-time-manufacturing" doesn't cut it, and supply chains can play a big role in scrambling when something goes awry overseas. Expansive supply chains have proven to be unstable, and building products closer to where organizational operations occur allows manufacturers to spot issues quicker and pivot more easily.

Part of giving yourself this flexibility means building up new plants closer to home and spooling up processes there that are brand new. Applying surface intelligence through a common data language means there doesn't have to be a new regimen of testing and product development. Surface intelligence that understands your materials and employs a quantitative surface quality measurement can instantly translate to new facilities without delay.

Surface intelligence enables companies to bring on more manufacturing plants quickly, giving them the flexibility they need:

  • Simple knowledge transfer
  • Immediate understanding of what works and what doesn't
  • Guarantee lean, efficient plants

5. You Don't Want to be Left Behind

Get serious about building the best products and differentiating yourself from your competitors.

Leading edge companies are adopting surface intelligence, enabling them to innovate and create new products faster and improve overall performance in manufacturing.

Companies that are aggressive about product life cycles and quality, like Apple, are taking the lead in this area. It is evident in Apple's market share, which is due in part to the reliability and overall higher quality of their products.

6. You Want a High Surface Intelligence Outcome

Using surface intelligence is crucial for developing processes that fully consider the sensitivity of material surfaces. When surface quality is not controlled at every step of the manufacturing process and across the supply chain, products' final quality and reliability simply cannot be guaranteed.

Get better surface data that tells you precisely what steps need to be taken to reduce costs, increase productivity, get products to market faster and build better products. Take the first step by reading the eBook, "Checklist: Adhesion Failure Root-Cause Analysis for Manufacturers." 

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