Root-cause identification of manufacturing variability

Root-cause identification of manufacturing variability

Our client was experiencing difficulties with the variability of its raw material in its manufacturing process. We performed a root-cause analysis, confirmed by experiment, that pointed towards viable engineering solutions.

Our client is a manufacturer of a product that uses a raw material that can either be mined directly or recovered as a by-product from another industrial process.

Regardless of the source, the manufacturing process was seemingly identical, but the quality of the product was variable.Root-cause identification of manufacturing variability

This variability was traced to the amount of water remaining in the raw material after a vacuum belt drying process, but the underlying cause was a mystery.

What we did

We visited the site for a deep dive by our consultants and our client’s experts in the field.

As a result, we identified a hitherto unrecognised difference in the raw material which led us to identify the physical process that was limiting drying.

This was confirmed by lab experiments and led directly to engineering solutions that could be implemented by the client.

Project achievements

We investigated and identified the physical processes behind uncontrolled variability in a manufacturing process. This was creating higher energy use and variable product quality.

We developed a mathematical model of the underlying physics, then confirmed the root cause through experimentation and recommended the engineering steps to be taken by the client to solve the issue.

We therefore enabled the client to be confident of moving from the current source of raw material to a new source for its product.

The ultimate commercial result of this project is that we identified a solution that would enable the manufacturing plant to remain open for many years to come as it was threatened with closure if it couldn’t adapt to a new raw material stream.


42T’s Director of Industrial, Peter Brown, says, "We enabled the client to be confident of moving from the current source of raw material to a new source for its product. Furthermore, as our first project with this client, we built trust and credibility that will lead to further projects in the near future."

42T’s Senior Manufacturing Consultant, Simon Copley, adds, “This project was a fascinating opportunity to apply fundamental physics to a large-scale industrial process, resulting in a solution that addressed our client's primary need to control input material variability. Plus, our recommendations have the side effect of significantly reducing the embodied energy in the finished product."

If you would like to find out more, please contact Peter: | +44 |


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