PeroxyChem employees at work.

Only one company in North America makes persulfates, and that’s PeroxyChem of Tonawanda, NY. Clients that include personal care manufacturers, chemical companies, and energy and environmental businesses are constantly knocking on the doors for one variety in particular: sodium persulfate. PeroxyChem’s production began to lag behind demand, building up to a relative 20 percent decline in “efficiency.” That means turning away new orders, and potentially sacrificing long-time customers to another supplier. A process engineer at PeroxyChem and leadership knew that a scientific, diagnostic approach was the best way to thoroughly examine the facility’s most complicated production line and its patented chemical process. Converting raw material depends on unique technology that, while enabling high-performing rates, can be susceptible to periodic maintenance troubles. The process engineer used the data-driven methodology of Six Sigma to unpack the snowball effect of inefficiencies in machinery and operating protocols. Combined with implementing Lean manufacturing processes, it led to the company capitalizing on increased market demand by enhancing production capability.

The Approach

The process engineer enrolled in TCIE’s Six Sigma Black Belt Certification program, where he learned to reduce process variation by:

  • Gaining support from a multidisciplinary team of colleagues
  • Assembling and validating reliable and pertinent data from the company’s massive process database history
  • Scrutinizing the sodium persulfate map of processes
  • Making statistical sense of data with MinitabTM software
  • Designing experiments for testing varying parameters to derive a potential solution

The Impact

  • Shattered a plant performance record by increasing sodium persulfate yield by 15%
  • Reduced the volume of raw material by elevating conversion rates
  • Improved environmental stewardship by decreasing byproduct levels
  • Documented procedures for operating equipment as a function of its expected service life
  • Systematized cell rebuilds by reinforcing adherence to a milestone-driven schedule