Capstone Turbine Corporation: Increasing Run Life

Background

Capstone Turbine Corporation, a manufacturer of high-speed microturbines, faced a debilitating dilemma. The company experienced a system failure rate of almost 50% due to problems with a critical control valve. These problems resulted in higher rework levels and large stockpiles of in-process inventories.

Approach

The company formed project teams to address the problem. Under the direction of a QualPro consultant, the employees brainstormed ideas to improve their system. Of these, 6 factors were deemed practical, fast, and cost free. After the QualPro consultant determined that their measurement systems were adequate and the process was stable, the company began to run an MVT experiment.

Results

After only two weeks of concerted effort, the Capstone team discovered that two ideas, seat recess and disc material, dramatically reduced the number of valve failures. By implementing these two factors, control valve failures were eliminated, and the estimated life for the control valves increased to 25 years.