We also saw a direct correlation of some controls with objectively superior output. With that information, MFG constructed a best practice protocol where the process flow starts at the point of receiving raw materials and ends with storage of the final product. We developed numerous detailed protocols, but here are examples of best practices in two areas – paste preparation and manufacturing SMC:

Paste Preparation:

  1. Certificate of Acceptance inspection of raw ingredients
  2. Correct formula – Make sure correct revision level is in use
  3. Make sure each formula is lot traceable with supplier lot information
  4. Verify each formulation has correct ingredient quantities
  5. Verify correct order of addition of ingredients is followed
  6. Verify rate of addition of each ingredient is followed
  7. Verify blending conditions are met for each formulation
  8. Conduct quality control analysis on each paste batch (viscosity, temperature, paste density) per formula specifications

Manufacturing SMC:

  1. C of A inspection of glass rovings
  2. Correct SMC machine set-up for each formula
    1. Verify correct paste metering and thickener metering are set for each formula
    2. Verify correct glass type per formula
    3. Verify glass content – Make sure established method is in place that calculates/predicts glass content of SMC being produced
    4. Verify edge seal equipment is working properly
    5. Ensure mat weight samples are being taken for left, center, right sections of SMC
    6.  Ensure maturation room is operational temperature controlled
    7. Conduct quality control testing on all produced SMC (gel, cure, molded density, shrinkage) per formulation specifications

At the end of the benchmarking process, the Project Hawk team made a report and presented to both MFG management and our partners.

To maintain best practices in SMC paste production and SMC compounding, an extensive audit plan was put in place that was ultimately absorbed into ISO/TS 16949 compliance audits for the automotive supply chain, as well as overall improvement of internal operations and quality. The plan helped maintain a data-driven, process-focused SMC compounding operation.

With the implementation of Project Hawk, which emphasized best practices and sustainability, many improvements have been made to both SMC paste production and SMC compounding at Molded Fiber Glass Companies. Just as importantly, the project highlights the value of collaboration among industry partners. All the participants were committed to developing collective best practices rather than narrowly focusing on their individual company interests, thereby advancing the industry as a whole.

The process for continuous improvement continues, and we can all be a part of it.

Disclaimer: Opinions, statements and technical information within the Tech Talk column are that of the authors. ACMA makes no warranty of any kinds, expressed or implied, with respect to information in the column, including fitness for a particular purpose. Persons using the information within the column assume all risk and liability for any losses, damages, claims or expenses resulting from such use.