Production/manufacturing nerds, this one’s for you! We regularly get questions about how and where we manufacturer Silva Cells to meet target performance requirements. I asked our Director of Operations, Rebecca Stevens, to discuss the various steps involved in our quality control process. -LM
By the time a Silva Cell order is received by a customer, it is simply a necessary component of the larger site design, something to be unpacked, assembled, and installed like so many others. To get the product to that point, however, requires diligent quality control and production procedures to ensure that it is made safely, with approved materials, and to mandated performance requirements. While the customer never experiences any of this – except perhaps in the form of accelerated or slowed shipping times – it’s something we pride ourselves on and do get asked about from time to time. Today I want to tell you a little bit about what that process looks like.
First, let me say that DeepRoot follows a rigorous process for maintaining the quality control of the Silva Cell product line that encompasses various steps and standards. Our parts – which are all American-made – are manufactured in an ISO 9001:2008 registered plant, providing the highest level of recognized quality procedures worldwide.
Prior to production there are several pre-qualification controls of materials and processes that must be executed. Each tool is certified on specific machines with a statistical Process Capability Index (CpK). The CpK is an in process production standard to make sure all the parts remain statistically centered in the molding process as measured by the dimensions. The tools are only run on those qualified machines. For redundancy and efficiency, multiple machines are qualified – this reduces any potential production down time in the event of machine maintenance or repair.
Quality control for production begins with the raw materials. Every batch of resin comes with a Certification of Analysis letter; this certification has six to seven (6 – 7) specific physical properties based on ASTM or ISO standards. Each property must fit within an upper and lower limit. Based on this certification, resin batches are approved or rejected based on specific material characteristics. Only approved batches are used for material production.
Once material is running, quality controls issues a First Article Inspection Report. The First Article Inspection Report measures the Critical to Functions (CTF) dimensions to make sure that all are within tolerance. Both the frame and deck parts have twelve (12) CTFs that must be within specification if production is to continue. If a dimension or dimensions are out of tolerance, quality control personnel will quarantine all materials suspected to be out of tolerance and immediately inform the supervisor. The quarantined material will be randomly inspected to determine the problem. If the random sampling shows parts out of specification, the Production Supervisor will stop production with this condition and make necessary changes to the process to fix the condition and re-issue new samples to quality control personnel to verify the changes have fixed the problem.
Throughout the entire production run, pieces are inspected to meet various criteria and standards such as dimensions, weight, cosmetics, and part fit. This constitutes the In-Process Inspection report. Two (2) parts are inspected at a set hourly interval to ensure they are up to standard requirements. If the material does not pass, it is immediately rejected and the production supervisors are informed of the condition. Production will be halted and supervisors will make necessary adjustments to the process to correct the issue. Any suspicious product with an out of specification condition is quarantined for further evaluation. If the condition affects the performance of the product, the material will be scrapped immediately. Parts are not shipped until each of these reports is reviewed and approved by both the in-house production team and corporate headquarters. Production is resumed once the issue has been resolved.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps that go into producing the final product as the customer experiences it. Not all of these steps are necessary each time, but the procedures are in place to maintain a high level of quality and consistency. If we’re doing our jobs right, then the customer has a seamless experience with the ordering, receiving, and performance of the Silva Cell. If you glazed over while reading this, don’t worry. Just know that this we consider quality control during the production process an extremely important component of our business and is and is something we pride ourselves on. Thanks for listening.
Rebecca Stevens is DeepRoot’s Director of Operations.