DuPont: Maximizing Run Life and Stabilizing Processes

Background

DuPont is the ninth largest chemical company in the world. The company generates over $34 billion in revenue from hundreds of plant sites located in more than 90 countries.

One of DuPont’s divisions was facing difficulties due to a buildup in the process pipes, which eventually caused failures. Each year, this problem caused millions of dollars in direct costs of cleanout and substantially lowered production. For over two years, the company had expended considerable resources trying to solve this problem. DuPont partnered with QualPro to improve the facility’s run life and create a more stable process.

Approach

QualPro consultants assembled a team consisting of DuPont management, engineers, and workforce personnel. Together, the team brainstormed improvement ideas designed to optimize production rates and recycling processes. Our consultants helped the team narrow the list to 10 ideas deemed practical, fast, and cost-free. Some of these ideas included different fill levels, pot temperatures, and startup procedures.

QualPro designed experiments for DuPont personnel to perform. A screening experiment revealed that two of the ideas were effective and worthy of further exploration. These ideas included changing the catalyst split and pot temperature. A refining experiment revealed that there was a significant interaction between the catalyst split and the fill level. After analyzing the results, our consultants created recommendations for DuPont to implement in order to stabilize the facility’s process.

In accordance with our commitment to driving continuous improvement, our consultants worked closely with operators to guide the process changes and motivate project team members to exceed goals.

Results

After implementing the recommendations, DuPont nearly doubled the facility’s run life to 139 hours. As a result of this 93 percent increase in run life, DuPont achieved an annual gain of $18 million in increased production and an annual savings of $8 million in reduced downtime.