Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Precision Component Mix Control
Northrop Grumman has an effective method for mixing and dispensing spray coating materials for its airframe coatings. This commercially-available system provides consistent mixtures, reduces waste, and has proven to be a wise investment. In addition, the company uses a hazardous material tracking software system to identify and track all chemicals throughout the facilities.
Northrop Grumman’s unique method of mixing paints and primers works on an as-needed basis. Since the pot life of these specialized paints and primers is only four hours, the possibility of wasting unused materials can become costly. Northrop Grumman uses a three-part paint system consisting of water, base, and solvents. The mixing machine precisely measures the correct blend of ingredients, mixes the batch, and meters the final product within minutes. Coating processes have also been developed to determine the exact amount of material needed for every subassembly on the airframe.
The paint system blends the necessary materials in batches from two ounces to one gallon. Each batch is sent to an operator who labels the container with the time, date, product name, and operator name. After an inspector approves the label, the batch is ready for use. This method of precision mixing creates no significant waste throughout the coating process. Several touch-up practices throughout the production process can create a need for several one to two-ounce bottles of paint. By dispensing this paint in small pill bottles instead of larger quantities, the company saves thousands of dollars in material and disposal costs.
Northrop Grumman also implemented a hazardous material tracking software system to identify and track every chemical at its facilities. This very in-depth chemical tracking system keeps track of all the chemicals from incoming inspection, through the usage phase at the facility, and finally to waste disposal. This tracking system uses various transactions such as Use Chemical; Return to Inventory; Return/Dispose; Record Purchase; Transfer to Other Area; Receive From Other Area; Adjust Chemical Balance; Dispose of Chemical; and Edit Transaction. These chemical control techniques implemented at Northrop Grumman have saved several thousand dollars in chemical usage and have assisted the facilities in meeting Corporate’s waste elimination goals.
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