Ron Billups is Senior Process Engineer at Porex. Porex implements groundbreaking technologies and a depth of expertise to engineer the porous plastic solutions that help bring their customers’ products to life.
Mr. Billups’ Story:
I can truly say that I have always had a thirst for knowledge both professionally and personally. I strive to learn of any new technologies that can have a positive impact on how I perform my job, how the technology will impact our customers’ products, as well how I grow as an individual. It has always fascinated me to learn and create innovative ways of solving technical opportunities.
Describe the most significant influence that led you to your line of work
I can trace my choice to become an engineer to career talks with my 11th grade Chemistry teacher and guidance counselor. They both encouraged me to investigate engineering as career field due to my love of the sciences and math.
What do your family, friends and colleagues say about your accomplishments?
My family has always been proud of any accolades I’ve received over the years. They’ve mentioned more than once that my colleagues must truly trust my technical judgement, as I’ve been contacted many times after hours to help with process issues that arise.
Tell us about something that made you grow the most as a leader:
By working as the sole process engineer for short periods over my career has forced me to grow and learn all of the processes within the Richmond facility. I believe this has had the greatest impact for me as a technical leader.
Share your ideas for mentoring the professional development of young entrepreneurs:
Learn as much as you can from experienced colleagues. Their knowledge will be valuable for approaching any problems you may encounter. But also think outside of the box for answers to future questions.
To date, what project is your greatest success? What is the story behind that innovation?
Earlier in my career with Porex, I was assigned process engineering responsibility for one of our most difficult bonded fiber products to make. This product is used in a diagnostic testing machine that detects HIV and Hepatitis in multiple blood samples.
The most significant difficulty in making this product was maintaining the forming tool life.to a maximum of 35 packing units, roughly equivalent to 1.5 days of production. At the completion of the 35 packing units, the tool had to be cleaned, disassembled, and shipped to a local vendor for coating removal and re-application. This exercise cost several hundred dollars per cycle and required having a significant number of backup tools so that we could maintain our customer’s product demand.
Through root cause analysis into the source of the short tool life, I discovered that a significant portion of the failed tooling came from the secondary fiber delivery tool that supplied the fiber into the main forming tool. The transition from the secondary tool to the main tool would slightly damage the fiber due to the high volume of compressed air required to form the product.
By redesigning the secondary tool, we were able to reduce compressed air consumption by three times, while also maintaining product quality. This simple redesign also extended the main tool life from 35 cases/coating to 125 cases/coating, which saved the company tens of thousands of dollars each year in coating costs. It reduced the required number of forming tools needed to maintain customer demand and significantly reduced utility usage.
This secondary tool redesign is one of my proudest accomplishments during my Porex career. It is a true testament that one small change can have a huge impact.