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The Zeus Technical Z-Team
Sometimes you need a respected partner for a second opinion when facing unexpected design and process challenges. The Zeus Technical Z-Team was developed to help remove barriers and overcome these challenges by providing streamlined technical support and collaboration with our customers.
What is the Z-Team?
Zeus’ Z-Team is a group of technical experts from various segments of our company and from multiple scientific disciplines whose mission is to assist customers in moving their project from concept to commercialization. The Z-Team includes a mix of polymer scientists, process engineers, materials scientists, and quality engineers who are dedicated to helping our customers. The Z-Team is a mobile team and routinely travels to our customers for on-site consultation and establishes a system of teamwork for further collaboration. Teleconference and discussions via phone are also equally available. Assistance from the Z-Team may be in the form of materials discussion to discern a best polymer or product solution for their application; ideation of project steps to overcome specific production or process difficulties; or, once the production stage has been reached, assistance with reduction of yield loss (“scrap”) from the production process.
How does the Z-Team work?
The Z-Team’s assistance is a fluid process and takes place in a variety of ways. Part of the Z-Team’s function is educational: the Z-Team informs customers of our materials and product offerings through presentations and demonstrations that are highly technical. These seminars include a greater focus on material specifics of fluoropolymers and other engineered plastics highlighting properties that are particularly relevant to the customer issue at hand.
The Z-Team likewise gives similar detailed presentations centered on technical aspects and innovations regarding our products. In these talks, the Z-Team discusses Zeus capabilities and technological innovations and how our expertise can help move customers towards the next stage of development. These tutorials are given to engage customers at the earliest stage and provide a baseline for deciding how we can assist them going forward. The extent of customer engagement and the resources deployed by us are highly flexible and driven entirely by customer needs and goals.
An example of the Z-Team in action
A global medical device company was experiencing difficulty with their heat shrink recovery process during catheter construction. While the Zeus Heat Shrink met specifications upon incoming inspection, the product was recovering too tightly over the catheter shaft during the reflow process. The result was a catheter with the underlying braid showing through the reflowed thermoplastic resulting in blisters along the length of the catheter. This heat shrink recovery and reflow process resulted in ~65% yield loss for the specific production part causing significant additional cost, diminished yields, and a need to increase inspections.
A Zeus Z-Team visited this medical device company to assist them in arriving at short and long term solutions to their production issue. Root cause analysis was performed by Zeus on the customer’s heat shrink recovery process using Six Sigma tools. The analysis highlighted a need to alter the specifications of the heat shrink’s recovered and expanded inside diameter (ID) sizes. For the short term, Zeus increased our inspection levels and shipped only materials that conformed to the newly proposed dimensions.
In the meantime, engineers from Zeus worked to refine the in-house process capabilities to meet the newly derived specifications for the heat shrink. After organized validations, Zeus and the OEM agreed that the best avenue through which to consistently achieve yields above 95% was to increase the recovered ID size and reduce the expanded ID size of the heat shrink. The new heat shrink specifications decreased the shrink ratio of the material and also reduced the tolerance by 50%. The result was a heat shrink with an optimal performance window that precisely fit the customer’s catheter assembly needs.
The collaboration between the Z-Team and this customer resulted in reduced yield loss of this production item to less than 3%, decreased required inspections and sorting time, and allowed for lower inventory levels. Together, these improvements saved this customer more than $500,000 annually.
Zeus may be able to help you reach similar results. If you think you have a process, production, or design problem that we can help with, contact us to request a Z-Team.