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Seeing (Through) Things in a Whole New Light

seeing throught the light

At Newell Brands, there’s a common theme across the diversity of products offered, and that’s quality.  It’s that commitment to quality that drives the day-to-day work of so many at Newell, like those at Newell’s writing instruments R&D facility in Atlanta.  So, when challenges arose with one of their key pieces of test equipment, something had to be done.

X-ray inspection had long been one of their key investigative tools.  The non-destructive nature of X-ray makes it particularly powerful for failure analysis, and the Atlanta R&D found it essential in identifying failure modes, and ultimately in finding a way to improve a variety of Newell Brands’ products.  But their aging X-ray inspection system presented challenges.  It was painfully slow, and so took inordinate amounts of time to conduct even the simplest studies.  Jessica Chau, the senior test engineer at the lab, explained “The equipment was rather antiquated, and it was very frustrating having to constantly adjust the height of the samples on different shelves for various magnification points, having to open and close the cabinet door every time to wait for another two-minute cycle for the X-ray scan was not very efficient at all”. At times it would take 20-30 minutes to collect as few as 5 images. The system was also complicated to use, with a long learning curve, which left lab staff having to neglect their own work to assist others who wished to utilize the equipment.

Jessica Chau, Senior Test Engineer, using Newell’s new TruView Prime X-ray system from Creative Electron

So, Jessica decided to take matters into her own hands.  She began the search for an X-ray system that could satisfy the R&D team’s imaging needs in a much more efficient manner, and be flexible enough to accommodate the diversity of products and applications.  At the same time, such a system had to be affordable, dependable, and preferably domestically manufactured and supported.  In Creative Electron, a leading US manufacturer of industrial X-ray inspection systems and solutions, and their technical sales specialist Tony DeMartini, she found not only the equipment the lab needed, but a new partner.

Working with Creative Electron began with Tony and his team really listening to the inspection challenges specific to Newell Brands.  They provided sample images, easily highlighting defects, and making an immediate impression.  More importantly, the team at Creative Electron was able to tailor one of their TruView™ Prime X-ray inspection systems to meet the R&D staff’s needs while respecting their budget.  Furthermore, the system is scalable such that as needs change, this important new tool will be able to keep pace.  Ms. Chau is glad to have found a new partner who will support Newell Brands’ efforts to continuously improve its products.

Image by William Ehlers, Sr. Product Engineer, failure analysis example (not indicative of manufacturing or production defect)

The new X-ray system solved a number of problems.  Because sample manipulation is less cumbersome, and the high resolution, real-time imaging is near-instantaneous, failure analysis investigations are taking a fraction of the time and yielding far greater results.  And because the system is so easy to use, others outside the lab are able to use the equipment independent of lab staff with minimal training.  The installation, on January 4, 2021, included training for the R&D staff, and its remarkable ease of use has them off and running.  “It’s been getting a lot of good use from our engineers and everyone is loving how easy it is to learn to use, its ease of use, and I love how quickly I can train others.” says Ms. Chau.

Images by Halee Pakosz, Product Engineer, examples of non-destructive internal component inspections (not indicative of manufacturing or production defect)

Perhaps just as impressive has been the post-delivery support.  Jessica and her team have found Creative Electron to be remarkably responsive to their feedback, “In addition to the key technical features, the customer service from everyone at Creative Electron has been exceptional. They aren’t a typical off-the-shelf equipment supplier. I’ve been impressed with their technical support and drive for continuous improvement by asking us what would make their product better for our needs.” Suggestions from Newell has already resulted in enhancements to the user interface.  And so, a new partnership emerges between Newell Brands and Creative Electron, powered by photons, and a mutual appreciation for quality.

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