Technidyne Header Image

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving in the United States gives us a chance to reflect on all the things we are thankful for in our lives.  We can reflect on the history of the country and be thankful for the sacrifices and ingenuity of those that came before us. We can reflect on our jobs and the great people we interface with: coworkers, customers, vendors, and agents. We can reflect on our family, friends, faith and blessings all around us.  We all have a lot to be thankful for. The hard thing is to take time to think about it and then to actually say, "thank you", out loud to those that have helped us achieve out position in life: spouse, parents, friends, kids and God.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lab Management Trends: Automated Testing

The quality control laboratories in manufacturing environments are continuing to evolve. Most of us can remember the typical QC lab:
  • Purchased instruments
  • Full-time employees to operate instruments
  • Employees calibrated and maintained the instruments
  • Each test was performed on dedicated instruments
  • Data was logged in a physical book
  • Physical data book was rarely looked at (usually only when a customer complaint was being reviewed)
So many of these old ways of doing things have changed or have totally disappeared over the last 10-20 years.

Automated Testing
Laboratory equipment was purchased for each individual test for many years. If an end-use customer

L&W Autoline 200 (circa 1995)
required some specific test parameter or requirement, the equipment was purchased.  Full-time employees were hired and trained on the calibration, operation and maintenance of each piece of test equipment. Several testers on each shift sat in the lab. They prepared samples for testing after each turn up or batch. Each tester would run a series of tests on the samples that were prepared.

That system and process has changed dramatically for many organizations. It is continuing to evolve around the globe for others.  Most have automated all or at least part of their laboratories. Automation gives more data in a much shorter amount of time. CD, MD, top and bottom measurements can be made in a manner of seconds with automated equipment. At the same time, the real variation in the system can be seen because the automated testing removes any effect of the tester. Many know that testers can effect the results by manually changing data, accidentally entering the wrong data, searching for the best data by manipulating the sample, accidentally damaging the sample, etc. Automated testing removes these factors from the data and provides significantly more detailed information more quickly and electronically.


Big Box vs. Modular Automated Testing

If the decision is made to automate, there are different approaches available. The big-box automation is where a large, fixed-size system is purchased with a significant cost for the "bed" and at the same time any number of tests (usually 1-8) are purchased at the same time. The cost is usually quite high (US$500k to over US$1M) and depends on the specific tests and the total number of modules. In many instances modifications to the existing laboratory are required to accommodate the size (10 ft. x 3 ft. x 5 ft.) of the device. This is an additional expense. Ongoing preventative maintenance and service work is quite high (US$30k+ per year).

Technidyne PROFILE/Plus
modular automated system
In the case of modular automated testing, each test has the same footprint (11 in. x 15 in. x 24 in.) and the modules are priced slightly higher than a normal stand alone instrument because they have the feed mechanism and software for automation built-in. The cost is usually quite reasonable (US$15k to US$350k) and as the big-box system, depends on the specific tests and the total number of modules. However, there is no need to modify the existing laboratory to accommodate the modular automated testing system. Ongoing preventative maintenance and service work is much lower than the big-box and is based on the number of modules in the system.

Choice of big-box automation, modular automation or stand alone testing equipment for lab varies with different factors. Understanding these factors helps in deciding which path to take with equipment. Some factors and the rationale behind it at different scenarios are given below.

A. Ability to get ROI/payback:

  • If the estimated cost of the equipment is high but there are a number of people that can be replaced through automation, and the ROI/payback can be achieved quickly (less than a year), the purchase of a big-box or modular automated system is suggested
  • A modular automated system is the best option when an older automated system is being replaced. This is the case when the bigger dollar figure of a big-box system is going to make ROI/payback difficult over a 1-3 year period of time.
  • When personnel reductions are not possible or practical, and smaller operational efficiencies will be achieved through automation, a modular automated system is preferred to get ROI/payback one piece at a time (6 months - 1 year per module).
  • If budgets do not allow for large expenditures at one point in time, but it does allow for smaller purchases each year, a modular automated system or stand alone testing would make sense.

B. Tenure of equipment usage:

  • If the expected usage of the equipment is more than three years and its frequency of usage is high, big-box or modular automated testing is suggested, provided the need to upgrade the equipment is low.
  • If the expected usage of the equipment is less than three years or the product mix/grade structure of the facility is likely to change in the future acquisition of a modular system is suggested.
  • Stand alone testing is preferred if the equipment will be used for a short term and its frequency of usage is low.

C. Need to upgrade:

  • Regulations and technology developments will require upgrading lab equipment regularly. High-end equipment that involves high technology is subjected to a high rate of change in technology, which results in regular upgrades.
  • It is preferable to acquire equipment with a low to moderate need for upgrades through big-box or modular automated testing, as acquiring equipment with high upgrade requirements could result in owning obsolete equipment.
  • It is preferable to procure equipment associated with frequent technological changes and frequent upgrades in a modular automated testing system or stand alone, as it is easier to upgrade and avoids owning a big-box system with obsolete equipment.
  • Stand alone equipment is suitable for all types of users irrespective of the industry or size of the company when the technology is changing frequently and there is a need for constant upgrading of the equipment.

D. Frequency of usage:

  • It is preferable to acquire big-box or modular automated equipment for medium to high frequency of usage tests, as return on equipment is high because the cost of the equipment is spread over the hundreds or thousands of tests.
  • Even if the test frequency is high for up to 4 or 5 tests, if there are very few tests that require a high frequency and others are low frequency, modular automated testing
  • Stand alone testing is preferred for equipment that is used less frequently or by ad-hoc requests. Acquiring equipment for temporary usage incurs more cost and less return.
  • If equipment is going to be used very infrequently, paying for testing by the manufacturer or a testing lab has become an option.
E. Correlated data:
Mesto big-box automated
system


  • Big-box automated systems do not have all tests according to the applicable international testing standards, therefore, correlations are used for many tests.
  • Modular automated systems offer standard testing just like stand alone equipment.
Automation has become a normal part of today's testing laboratories. There are many factors that can help determine what version of system is best for your situation. Careful consideration must be given to determine how to bring the benefits of fast testing with more relevant data (MD, CD, top, bottom) to the production facility.

Other topics in blog posts:
  • Procurement
  • Data Management
  • Outsourcing

Contact me with other blog ideas.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Technidyne Surpasses Target

In the month of October, Technidyne Corporation had its second highest single month revenue in the 42 year history of the company.

This is due to a combination of events...

  • new Technidyne products:
    • Color Touch X
    • TEST/Plus Opacity
    • TEST/Plus Gloss
    • TEST/Plus Caliper
  • strong PROFILE/Plus automation
  • great products from our partners
    • ACA - RoQ (roll hardness)
    • Emtec - TSA (tissue softness)
    • Techpap - MorFi (fiber morphology)
  • consistent, high quality service
  • dependable calibration standards
In lieu of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday in the U.S., thank you to our employees for fulfilling their roles in such a way to help Technidyne reach this milestone. Each employee received a $100 bill to commemorate this special event and their commitment to our customers, to teamwork and to the continued success of Technidyne Corporation.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Lab Management Trends: Procurement

The quality control laboratories in manufacturing environments are continuing to evolve. Most of us can remember the typical QC lab:

  • Purchased instruments
  • Full-time employees to operate instruments
  • Employees calibrated and maintained the instruments
  • Each test was performed on dedicated instruments
  • Data was logged in a physical book
  • Physical data book was rarely looked at (usually only when a customer complaint was being reviewed)
So many of these old ways of doing things have changed or have totally disappeared over the last 10-20 years.

Equipment Procurement
Laboratory equipment was always purchased 20 years ago. Wow, how that has changed. Nearly every discussion with a customer involves payment and financing options. Everything from buying equipment outright to leases and rental and even payment per test have been discussed.


Choice of procurement models for lab equipment varies with different factors. Understanding these factors helps in deciding whether to own the equipment, which in turn helps in choosing the right procurement model. A preferred procurement model and the rationale behind it at different scenarios are given below.


















A. Need for maintenance services:

  • Customized services are necessary for end users who are into research and development in order to carry out their operations to the desired specifications.
  • If the equipment needs a high degree of maintenance services, buying or capital leasing is preferred, as these options offer not only standard but also customized maintenance services. An operational lease doesn’t usually offer customized maintenance services, as the equipment will be returned to the lessor after the lease term.
  • As the service contracts in renting are high-priced and the equipment is being used by many people, it is advisable to obtain equipment that requires less maintenance.

B. Tenure of equipment usage:

  • If the expected usage of the equipment is more than three years and its frequency of usage is high, acquisition either by capital lease or buying is suggested, provided the need to upgrade the equipment is low.
  • If the expected usage of the equipment is less than three years and ownership is not desired, acquisition through an operational lease is suggested.
  • A rental option is preferred if the equipment will be used for a short term and its frequency of usage is low.

C. Need to upgrade:

  • Regulations and technology developments will require upgrading lab equipment regularly. High-end equipment that involves high technology is subjected to a high rate of change in technology, which results in regular upgrades.
  • It is preferable to acquire equipment with a low to moderate need for upgrades through buying or capital lease, as acquiring equipment with high upgrade requirements could result in owning obsolete equipment.
  • It is preferable to procure equipment associated with frequent technological changes and frequent upgrades under operational lease, as it avoids owning obsolete equipment.
  • Operational leasing is suitable for all types of users irrespective of the industry or size of the company when the technology is changing frequently and there is a need for constant upgrading of the equipment.

D. Frequency of usage:

  • It is preferable to acquire equipment for medium to high frequency of usage through buying or leasing, as return on equipment is high because the cost of the equipment is spread over the years of usage.
  • Renting is preferred for equipment that is used less frequently or by ad-hoc requests. Acquiring equipment for temporary usage through buying or leasing incurs more cost and less return.
  • If equipment is going to be used very infrequently, paying for testing by the manufacturer or a testing lab has become an option.
Other topics in blog posts:

  • Automated Testing
  • Data Management
  • Outsourcing

Contact me with other blog ideas.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NFL Coach Smashes Tablet and Goes Back to Paper

From Two Sides North America:


We agree with Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots - Paper is an awesome product!
Back in 2014, Microsoft struck a deal to supply the NFL with Surface tablets as a coaching tool.  I am sure it has many benefits … but seeing the video of Bill Belichick throw down his Microsoft Surface tablet in frustration made my day! 


I feel his pain and have often felt like doing the same with my laptop or smartphone on many occasions.


Bill’s reasons for chucking the tablet are no surprise - he said that the technology failed him and made his job harder because it was too undependable and inconsistent.  He is going back to simple, functional, renewable and recyclable PAPER!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jim Abbott Will Be Missed...

James C. Abbott, Cincinnati, Ohio, passed away Sept. 29, 2016.

Jim seemed a bit unassuming. He looked a little like Mr. Magoo. However, if you talked to him at all you realized he was more like Donald Trump. He never had an opinion or thought that he did not express.  The type of action Jim reveled in was either teaching a "youngster" at Proctor & Gamble a thing or two about tissue at their facility in Cincinnati, OH or discussing and debating the merits of different test methods and evaluations for tissue products and their applications. He loved a good debate. At times he seemed bored if there wasn't some kind of controversy to be debated.

Jim had strong credentials:
  B.S. College of Wooster
  M.S. Chemistry, Ohio State University

  Ph.D. Chemistry, Ohio State University

He was employed by the Procter and Gamble Company for almost 30 years until he retired in 1994. However, he stayed very active in TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry). and ISO (International Standards Organization).  His research and testing interests were in tissue products.  This isn't the type of dinner-time conversation that brings flocks of followers and invitations to speak at university functions. However, this seemingly grumpy individual possessed a treasure trove of knowledge when it came to the history of testing methods and standards related to the Paper Industry. 

Once you were on his radar, he could easily explain the history of different tests, their inception, changes that occurred, and why these changes were made. He would also give you the unfiltered version of how these things evolved, whether motivated by geographic politics (Europe vs. North America) or sound technical considerations.

ISO TC6 Meeting - Paris 2011
Jim was a tireless volunteer in this respect. He was involved in ISO, TAPPI, ASTM and other standards organizations. He selflessly volunteered to review many standards when no one else would do so. He was a great asset in this regard including being Chairman of the U.S. TAG (Technical Advisory Group) to ISO TC 6 (pulp, paper and paperboard). He also initiated the first Working Group within ISO for Tissue Properties, which still exists today.

Some of his TAPPI Awards:
1991 Process and Product Quality Division Leadership and Service Award
1994 Fellow
2009 Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award

Those of us who worked with him over the years will miss so many of his eccentricities, funny comments, appreciation of a nice adult beverage, technical prowess and sheer knowledge in the area of testing related to the Paper Industry.

Farewell, Jim Abbott...you will be missed!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Color Touch™ X Takes Off in Taiwan

The Technidyne Color Touch™ X, the latest in the family of spectrophotometers specifically for the Pulp & Paper Industry, was released in mid-2015. Among early adopters of the newest technology for optical measurements in the Industry are seven customers in Taiwan.

Asia has been a strong market for products like the Color Touch™ PC and Color Touch™ 2. The early movement of Taiwanese customers to the new technology is a sign of confidence in the products that Technidyne provides and the interest level in those customers to stay with the newest technology on the market.

Features that continue to make the Color Touch™ the head of the pack (and our competitors still have not caught on to):

  • Fully automated primary calibration - no more nightmares entering spectral data
  • Internal swing-in standard for improved repeatability and elimination of drift over time
  • High durability sphere coating - no yellowing like the barium spheres like our competitors
All of this is backed up by the most knowledgeable team with specific expertise related to the paper industry, it's applications, requirements and customers.

Check our our website on how to step up like so many customers around the world. Also, see CalStandards.com to see how you can order standards and parts for your lab.