Measurement Nuance in the Chemical Industry

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    Stan Mikel

    In the spirit of leading by example, I thought I might kick off a discussion of why measurement is so much harder in the chemical industry and some things that have been learned to address this most difficult of all industries to make progress since we struggle to measure.

    Why it is so much harder –

    1) The raw material varies.
    2) We have to take samples and take them back to a lab where there are other people and measurements going on.
    3) Our measures are only done by highly trained technicians.
    4) We don’t need any stinking standardization.
    5) We use secondary methods because primary methods are too time consuming.
    6) Our instruments are sometimes in harsh environments.

    What has been learned –
    1) Know the relationship between incoming material variation and output (new concept in 6S).
    2) Standardize conditions such as time, temp, prep techniques and have lab equipment scheduled.
    3) Tell your highly trained folks that they are probably smart enough to agree on a best technique and follow it.
    4) Standardize.
    5) Make sure secondary methods are highly correlated (R^2>95%, y-intercept not statistically different than 0, slope not statistically different than 1) before use of the secondary method and throughout the life of the secondary method.
    6) Give your equipment proper protection.

    I am sure I haven’t hit the really important issues, so please jump in and add to the learnings.

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