Lubrizol, a specialty chemicals company, faced a challenge common to manufacturers in its sector: how do you test dozens or hundreds of new chemical formulations every year in a timely and cost-effective manner? The answer: better data analysis.
The Wickliffe, Ohio, company developed a virtual testing and data analytics system called Q.LIFE®, a solution so successful that the Innovation Research Interchange (the NAM’s innovation division) recognized it with the IRI Innovation Excellence Award for Digital and Technological Innovation. Here’s how they did it.
The problem: To develop its additives for engine oils, industrial lubricants, gasoline and other products, Lubrizol must run expensive tests that often took weeks if not months to complete.
- LIFE® changed the game, by providing more than 1,000 predictive models for different aspects of product development and deployment. For example, Q.LIFE® can help predict the outcome of those tests before they’re conducted, sometimes even eliminating the need to run a test in the first place.
- It also helps the company identify potential issues with raw materials before they end up in Lubrizol’s products.
- Last, as an added benefit, the system serves as an aid for training new employees on company processes.
Putting it to use: “Getting a handful of early adopters to start using it was key to making this a successful analytics system for years to come,” said Lubrizol Senior Manager of Data Science & Analytics Allison Rajakumar, one of the project’s pioneers.
- The team started by training a small group of employees in how to use Q.LIFE®. Those early users provided feedback on the system as it was being launched.
- As the use of the system grew, those employees acted as ambassadors for Q.LIFE® and trained other workers to use it, too.
Looking ahead: Lubrizol plans to expand Q.LIFE® to include more tools and to extend it to other areas of the business.
- The data science team is working with employees in other divisions, such as the company’s supply chain specialists, to develop models that will help optimize their processes as well.
Get involved: Has your company developed innovations to improve its operations and better serve its customers? If so, it might also be eligible for an IRI Innovation Excellence Award.
- Click here to learn more and start your nomination now. Submissions are due by Feb. 15.