Saving time, as every company knows, means saving money. Thermal Spray Technologies, Inc. (TST), which offers innovative engineered coating solutions to a wide variety of industries, has been able to save nearly 50 percent of time spent inspecting product by using SQCpack from PQ Systems.
When a company makes something that helps other organizations create high-quality products, it has a special understanding of the importance of quality in its own operation. This is true of TST which develops its products for industries that range from food processing to electronics. TST uses SQCpack and GAGEpack software from PQ Systems to track quality performance and reduce inspection time.
Judy Crook, a quality assurance technician, works with gages on a daily basis for TST. She uses SQCpack to collect visual and complex dimensional data on receiving inspections. “SQCpack enables us to track individual vendors’ performance and to more easily identify and quickly react to trends that could affect the high level of quality in coated parts that we provide to our customers,” she says. Crook estimates that as much as 50 percent of time spent inspecting product has been saved by using data cables to connect measuring equipment directly to the computer. She points out that “an inspection that used to take 45 minutes now takes only 22 minutes.”
The thermal spray coatings that the company makes are extremely effective in increasing component life, reducing machinery downtime, and improving performance. These coatings can provide electrical insulation for surgical scissors, wear resistance for food processing pumps, and improved braking performance for Olympic cyclists. Its broad range of customers depends on TST to offer high-quality thermal spray products.
TST’s own history offers testimony to the spirit of innovation as well as commitment to quality. Its founder, William Lenling, has worked with thermal spray technologies since the 1980s. He established the current headquarters of TST in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where about 80 high-tech employees continue to develop coating solutions. The company is ISO certified.
Karen Hitchcock, director of quality assurance for the company, has used SQCpack to analyze data related to incoming inspection and for specific quality related projects. The ease of charting from external sources has appealed to her, saving time and assuring accuracy in data transfer. In addition, she finds the PQ Systems application support team extremely responsive and knowledgeable. “In this day and age, when purchasing and using off the shelf software, support is slow and unresponsive. This is NOT the case when [PQ’s] technical support is needed. Help is just a phone call away. I would say the support that I have experienced with PQ is the reason that I keep coming back,” she says.
TST’s mission, suitably enough, has always been, “Dedication of fully satisfying the needs of its customers by engineering, improving, and continuously providing high quality application-specific coatings and coated components.” But “high quality” does not appear only in the company’s mission statement. It has become a way of life for the organization—something they insist on in every phase of their operation.
Crook, like Hitchcock, raves about PQ Systems’ application support team, saying that they have provided answers and solutions to every question or problem she has had with setting up inspection files (“usually within minutes”). “My time and schedule was important to each representative who helped me. I’ve never been treated with such thorough and refreshing respect” by customer support representatives, she says. One resolution of a question resulted in a maintenance update to address that question.
Like TST, PQ understands its role in helping other organizations assure the quality of their products and services. While it may be behind the scenes, this function is something that companies in a variety of industries depend upon, and TST takes its role seriously. So seriously, in fact, that TST seeks the reliability of products such as SQCpack to assure that the company can provide the thermal spray products its customers expect.