Establishing Lab Excellence
Lincoln Industries is proud to manage a state-of-the-art lab for their Lincoln, Nebraska facility. “Everything we do is science, backed up by statistical data,” says Carl Witte Processing Control Engineering Manager.
Every tank in the plant has multiple specifications: rinse tanks, plating baths, etc. are all controlled using both, in-process checks and analytical analyses. The Process Control team is continually performing in-house analysis on Lincoln Industries lines to provide rapid responses to issues that may arise.
“Our goal is to prevent any problems that would require emergency issues by understanding how chemical concentrations and plating abilities change over time and during the operation of the processes,” says Witte. “We need to be able to prevent anything that may impair our products.”
Lincoln Industries has invested in adding analytic capabilities and highly qualified team members to establish process capabilities. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a tool that we use to determine concentrations of proprietary organics. Process Control partners with the vendors to provide standards, cross checks those standards against prior standards, and then uses the standards to analyze chemical composition.
The Process Control team is made up of control chemists who are either highly experienced platers or highly trained technicians. By working together, the experienced and trained people can help each other understand the needs of the plant and balance those against the abilities of the processes. Additionally, a laboratory information management system (LIMS) was put into place to ensure continuity of knowledge.
According to Witte, “with the experience and knowledge of our long-term people and standardization of the processes, we’re able to operate at our highest ability possible.”
As Lincoln Industries experienced a significant amount of growth in the last year, it’s been important to keep the process controls in place and functioning well. The Process Control team continually invests in aspects to minimize cost and maximize success. Lincoln Industries Nebraska location has been partnering with the labs at the Minnesota and Wisconsin facilities to improve equipment and capabilities.
“When we implement processes in Lincoln, Nebraska, we want to ensure that those processes can also be applied at our other facilities so we’re able to maintain consistency across the enterprise,” says Witte. “We are establishing long term goals to understand the differences of the control systems at all locations from analytical labs to calibration to documentation to control methods. We continue to find the best practices and work to get them standardized among all facilities.”