Lab Wizard was originally developed over 20 years ago for the metal finishing industry and has become the manufacturing and metal finishing software of choice for many companies ranging from printed circuit board manufacturing to aerospace metal finishing. Lab Wizard was designed to handle all the lab scheduling, information management, and statistical process control involved in or associated with the wet processing area of a manufacturing environment, including preventive maintenance scheduling of the associated equipment. Over the years as technology changes, Lab Wizard has been continuously improved. Today our development team works with our customers to identify valuable new features to improve the Lab Wizard software and we deploy this software to our customers through our automatic updater.
Upon installation and setup of the program, Lab Wizard will alert the lab tech when any process has a station due for a make-up or analysis. For station make-up, Lab Wizard will print a recipe for make-up of the station. For analysis, the lab tech enters the analysis value of a component and Lab Wizard will calculate the concentration and amount of the addition to bring the component to its target concentration. Lab Wizard will then automatically print an add sheet for the additions that need to be made. If the analysis is out of spec or out of control, Lab Wizard will display a control chart for that component, which will require the lab tech to enter an out of spec cause. If the concentration is beyond the action limits, the appropriate message will be displayed. With the aid of Lab Wizard’s trending and SPC charts, the lab tech can easily optimize the interval between analysis by using the dynamic triggers provided for analysis and new make-up scheduling.
These dynamic triggers are separate triggers for each required action. The trigger’s interval is maintained based on the three options available. They are time, product, both (triggered by the first due), and none (no triggering). Individual triggers are available for each station’s new make-up and for analysis of each component within that station. The station trigger is used for new station make-up. Station make-up may also be triggered by a limit on component concentration value or by the accumulation of adds made since the last make-up. Component triggers are used for analysis. When the triggering is set for time, the time accumulated is the actual time a process is used. The time is process independent and calculated for each process using the “Weekly Work Schedule”, accessible through the “Process Update / Work Schedule” menu on the main screen. This is easily accessed and changed to meet the demands of fluctuating work schedules. When a trigger is set for product, the number used is the product output of the process. This number is obtained from the data entered by the operator, by using either the scheduled process pop-up screen, or the “Process Update / Product Throughput” menu on the main screen.
Enhanced reporting capabilities include:
- Pareto analysis of all processes by the month or months.
- An SPC printout for each component. The SPC printout includes a concentration trending chart that provides a number for any out of spec data, a list displays the out of spec causes for each out of spec data point, a concentration control chart with out of control points numbered, a list of numbered out of control points with the SPC rule violation and corrective action, a moving range chart and a process capability plot.
- A Cpk Report for any process displayed down to the component level. Fields displayed are spec limits, control limits, sigma, # of data pts, PCI or Cp and Cpk.
- A Preventive Maintenance Report which displays all PMs with their current status.
- An Out of Spec Report for any combination of processes which displays any component analysis that is out of spec for any time period specified. Options include displaying out of control data and excluded from SPC data.
Run-Time or product throughput triggers?
The most important feature of the Lab Wizard software is its dynamic triggers, used to schedule analysis and make-ups by time (run-time) and product throughput. This is the reason the software was created and why it stands alone in the manufacturing and metal finishing industries. This is NOT an SPC program. It is a Lab Scheduling and Information Management software that provides fully integrated SPC tools to optimize the interval for analysis and station make-up. The goal of scheduling is to only analyze the components that need analysis and only when necessary while maintaining a consistent interval between analysis. It will be very evident how to attain this goal by using the tools provided.
Most labs use an appointment type of scheduling for analysis and station make-up. Some tanks are analyzed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Some tanks are analyzed on Tuesday and Thursday. Some tanks are analyzed every day or multiple times a day. Unfortunately, several inherent problems occur when using this approach. First, the analysis interval is based on 24 hours and has nothing to do with the actual run time of individual processes, unless you run 24 hours seven days a week. Second, the interval between analyses is consistent only when the analysis is done once a week (or every couple weeks), once a day, or multiple times a day. Most manufacturing operations run either five or seven days a week. Five and seven are prime numbers (can only be divided evenly by themselves or one) and therefore the reason an appointment schedule is limited to only daily (or fractions thereof) and weekly appointments that can achieve consistent analysis intervals. All analysis done on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday have two data points with an analysis interval of two days, and one data point of one day every week (five day week). Analysis on Tuesday and Thursday has intervals of two days and three days. Why use consistent analysis intervals? Analysis intervals that are not consistent are producing data that is not representative of how the process is actually operating. The SPC and process capability of a process with inconsistent analysis intervals are not true representations of the process.
Which is better, time (run-time) or product throughput triggers? The clear-cut choice is the product throughput trigger when dealing with chemical processing. The factor that changes concentration the most is drag-in and drag-out of chemistry for most baths. This trigger also accounts for fluctuations of production through a process. The data resulting from analysis, triggered by product throughput, gives an accurate picture of how the process is really doing by removing the noise caused by varying amounts of product through a process within an analysis interval. Do you base bath make-ups on time? If you do, start using product throughput as the basis for new make-ups. Use the manufacturer’s recommended product throughput for new make-ups and the savings on chemical costs will pay for this software in just a few months.
The time trigger is used whenever it is not practical to use product throughput for analysis or new make-ups. The time trigger is designed to be much more accurate than time used in an appointment type schedule. Time is only accumulated for a process when the process is scheduled to run. This schedule is setup using the weekly work schedule and can be changed at any time. The interval between analyses is maintained by resetting the trigger each time an analysis is done. The data produced will be more representative of true conditions than that of an appointment schedule. This is due to consistent analysis intervals and the time being the actual process operating time.
A trigger setting of “both” (time and product throughput) should be considered when an analysis that is normally triggered by product throughput exhibits a loss of concentration due to internal chemical reactions. This setting can trigger an analysis by either trigger coming due.