My name is Michael Rossi. I'm a Quality Engineer here at NorthStar Battery. NorthStar Battery produces valve-regulated lead-acid batteries for the use of telecommunication cell phone towers and engine start uses. Some of our larger customers are Verizon Wireless, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE, Batteries Plus, and Exide.
What we manufacture here in Springfield is everything from the beginning of the process to the end. We cast our own grid, we paste our own plates, we assemble the battery here, we put it through all the quality testing in-house, and then we ship it out at the end.
Being a Quality Engineer at NorthStar Battery—it’s a lot of data analysis and Six Sigma projects. I'm a Lean Six Sigma green belt. And we've been working on a lot of weight variation projects. When we have quality issues with some of our quality testing, we'll go in and analyze data and see—backtrack through our processes—what the data is telling us and what we need to examine.
We've been using the InfinityQS software in our sub-assembly area, which is pretty much the first four areas of our total production line. And we've used it in a couple of variation of ways: we have some manual entry in some of our applications, and we have one of the applications where we're using the gauge server with a scale.
We just started using the DCS (Data Collection Service) and the DMS (Data Management System) service for data collection and data management. We're able to pull the data—we're using the OLE db as our data provider—and we're pulling it right off our SQL table into our Infinity database. And it's actually really neat to watch it: all the charts update as data is being collected in real time.
Yeah, I think it's real boost in credibility to the system where we can say “this is going to have a direct impact on our productivity and our efficiency.” We can react in real time, instead of at the end of the shift, at the end of the day, at the end of the week, when problems already happened. We can make adjustments to the system after one or two failed data points, as opposed to a day or a week later.
I feel like electronic SPC is the new technology. I mean, SPC has been out there for a long time, and people have been plotting control charts on paper with a pencil for a long time. And once you start getting into the electronic SPC, and the real-time data, and the alarm monitoring, and the event recording, and everything else that goes along with InfinityQS.
It is a good system in place, and they have a lot of neat tools embedded in the software—that I feel like moving forward, and in my career, I'll be able to benefit from. It's really become something that we've relied on, since we implemented it two years ago. And it's really been helping us move in the right direction as a company. We see real time SPC benefits!