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How process variability impacts your company costs

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The production environment is organised in processes, there are the purchasing process, the logistic process, among others. In the same way, there are the industrial processes, such as the steam production, the fermentation and so on. When a company has its processes well established, another stage starts: the processes efficiency evaluation. In other words, how much of that process is out of specification and for how long? That is the process variability. It is known that the bigger the variability, the more and the longer the process is distancing from its ideal values, which impacts the production quality and costs.

Many aspects can influentiate the final product characteristics, since there are sundry process variation sources, either equipment regulation, raw material quality or production instabilities.

Therefore, it is crucial to well control and measure the productive processes in order to avoid reprocessing and waste of energy and financial resources.

At the end of this article you will be able to understand about process variability and how it impacts your company costs.

Oh, you will still know how to improve your processes to not damage your finances.

What is process variability ?

The variability evaluates the data dispersion. It is calculated to each equipment as the division of the standard deviation by the data average. The aim of the industrial team is to ensure the smallest standard deviation for each operation scenery. In other words, secure that the delivered products are uniform, compared with the expected result and compared with one another.

This theme is very important to the quality management, because it impacts the control and the industrial operations.

Thus, it is necessary to determine the acceptable variability limits, and to invest in techniques which enable the reduction of this interval, so that the final product is increasingly close to the ideal value and the operational costs are reduced.

Variability causes

In general, we can divide its causes in two categories. Check them out:

Special causes: are great changes in the process, generally are unpredictable and sporadic and are the result of causes which are independent of the process, for example, changes in the raw material quality. To solve them, the direct responsible for the operation are often involved.

Ordinary causes: are arising from sources which act permanently in the process and generate a stable distribution over time. To diminish them is required an in-depth study of all the processes and, generally the managers are involved in these activities.

industy in a sunny day

Operational costs reduction

Most companies seek to conciliate the delivery of high quality products with the low operational costs. Investing in alternatives which reduce the process variability is a solution that meets these two objectives.

Various factors may generate the reduction of the operational costs, nevertheless, it is essential to deppen in the processes inside the industry in order to define which are the most critical sectors, and implant improvement projects that present more significant results.

Reducing variability

Generally, the production is limited by the equipment capacity or there are specific operational conditions that enable the process to operate with maximum efficiency.

Therefore, the operational costs are significantly influenced by the process variations.

In a boiler, the amount of air supplied by the blower to the combustion directly impacts the efficiency, and the steam generation costs.

If the amount of air available to the process is lower than the required, part of the fuel will not be burned and the equipment efficiency will drop. At the opposite condition, when the amount of air is higher than the ideal, part of the produced thermal energy will go to the air, instead of being completely used to heat the water, which also reduces the efficiency.

Hence, the closer to the ideal value the air entrance is, the higher will be the energetic efficiency and, consequently, lower will be the amount of fuel required and the costs associated with the process.

graphic representation of the variability impact in the efficiency and process costs

Market solutions

There are market solutions that contribute to the process variability reduction. The PID controller (proportional, integral, derivative) is a form of control vastly used in industry. The operation reports the setpoint (value in which the process should operate on) and the PID controls the equipment so that the variable is kept close to the setpoint.

Nevertheless, these controllers present some disadvantages. The PID meshes are usually commanded individually, in other words, there is not an interconnection to evaluate the fonctionnement of the whole process. Moreover, they act only on the present (not based in a model) and transfer noises to the process, causing variability.

One alternative is the advanced controls, which use artificial intelligence algorithms. Aimirim has very innovative technologies of advanced control and is available to comissionate in your industry. These technologies are capable of changings its control characteristics in real time, adjusting itself and learning how to control the equipment in each operation scenery, ensuring lower process variability and, consequently, lower operational costs.

Know Aimirim solutions and how to reduce the industrial process variability of your company. Access: .


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