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How specialty fluid giant Quaker Houghton applies data and analytics for customer success
As the global leader in industrial process fluids, Quaker Houghton is one of the most innovative players in modern manufacturing, their expertise sought by the most advanced steel, aluminum, automotive, aircraft, machinery, and industrial parts manufacturers in the world. With operations in more than 25 countries, their 15,000 customers are some of the most specialized steel, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, offshore, can, mining, and metalworking companies on the planet.
Over 150 years old, the firm employs a host of chemists, engineers, and industry experts amongst their 4,500-plus global workforce, all of whom are dedicated to creating high-performing, innovative, and sustainable process fluid solutions. At Quaker Houghton, collaboration is the order of the day. They partner with their customers to improve their operations for optimum efficiency and effectiveness and to help future-proof their manufacturing systems.
The Conshohocken, Pa.,-based enterprise is currently progressing through a digital transformation of their pioneering QH FLUID INTELLIGENCE™ technology. “As a critical partner to our manufacturing customers, we not only offer our customers industrial fluids, greases and supporting equipment or services, but also providing digital information,” said Dru Rai, the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer. Rai is shepherding this last initiative, which extends to IT infrastructure, automation and analytics capabilities, and business process excellence.
Process fluids are a fundamental part of industrial manufacturing, used to help companies produce the best possible products and parts they can at the lowest total cost of ownership. Quaker Houghton’s solutions are designed to ensure that critical customer performance goals are met, reducing errors in production or higher operational effectiveness. They are also deeply invested in sustainability, creating solutions that help makers reduce the waste of energy, fluid, or materials.
In addition to providing equipment, hardware, software and cloud technology, the company’s scientists and engineers literally bring their skills directly to customers, often working on premise.
Fluids Need Healthcare Too
Just as monitoring and tracking stats help the human body, measuring and following industrial fluids stats provide a window into the health of industrial operations. With QH FLUID INTELLIGENCE™ and QH FLUIDTREND™, Quaker Houghton provides solutions that support smart manufacturing and optimal fluid management, adds end-to-end visibility throughout a production plant, reveals the health of the fluids being used, and the health of the machines and processes.
“For example, measuring pH levels, particulates, the presence of bacteria or contaminants offers valuable insights to the health of the process,” Rai explained. Parameters and KPIs are measured and reported in real time. “When they see the data trend going in the wrong direction, our customers or our technicians on-site can make adjustments before it's too late.”
Quaker Houghton’s state-of-the-art tank monitoring solutions reveal potential issues in the process. A fluid tank holds the process fluids needed to complete various production steps being performed. Across the manufacturing sector, process fluids are frequently required for cooling or lubrication and can be often used and returned to the tank. Quaker Houghton’s IoT technologies take an analog signal, digitize it, and store that signal into a database, which can be displayed on a screen mounted on the tank or elsewhere. IoT innovations in their hardware enable the data to be sent to a cellular network, back to the cloud, and eventually to a smartphone, app, desktop computer, or other device.
“If you're a plant manager or a line manager, you can select your process parameters or substation parameters to see metrics required to ensure the process is working within specs, as well as indicating the volume of fluid in the tank,” Rai said. “Our folks are on the factory floor, and these Quaker Houghton engineers in our customer’s plant are responsible for reading the data and taking the necessary preventive or corrective actions to anticipate any issues.”
Currently, Rai is layering additional machine learning and AI algorithms on collected data that will not only measure the health of the fluids in use, but also automatically trigger a response in a connected robot. The analytical tool measures, controls, and optimizes the use of fluid.
The development of QH FLUIDTREND™ is key to the company’s continued growth, with Rai and his technology group at its center. “I'm really proud of our teams, working cross-functionally between our commercial team, our engineering and R&D team, and our IT team to bring the best and adapted solutions to answer our customers’ needs,” he said.
The company is bolstered by a culture that encourages creativity, risk-taking, and innovation. “Our organization has a great reputation for innovation and leadership in the market, inventing many product technologies like fire resistant hydraulics,” he noted.
As Rai sees it, Quaker Houghton has a significant advantage over its competitors. “We are definitely a pure play and unique in this industry, compared to other competitors who are either focused only on a small part of the metal processing or overly diversified on other lubricants markets like motor oils, so we definitely are much more organized and strategically focused on the end-to-end metal production and transformation markets.” For Quaker Houghton, the future looks very bright indeed.
Quaker Houghton is the global leader in industrial process fluids, with more than 4,500 employees including chemists, engineers and industry experts, and operations in over 25 countries. Our customers include the world’s most advanced steel, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, offshore, can, mining, and metalworking companies.
We partner with our customers to take on their challenges as our own by bringing the right combination of technical and business savvy to gain more efficient, more effective operations so that they can face the opportunities of the future. Forward Together™
One Quaker Park
901 E. Hector Street
Conshohocken, PA 19428-2380
Phone Number: 610.832.4000
Homepage Link: https://home.quakerhoughton.com/