At Freudenberg, Quante deals with cleaning agents, filters, seals, and nonwovens. Recently, with the latter, she had a challenge on her hands. Freudenberg nonwoven carpets are used in cars. But in rare cases, irregularities can occur during processing of the fleece, which might lead to complaints. Fortunately, Freudenberg had already identified the cause. The nonwoven material is formed by taking melted polymers, processing them into fibers and depositing them onto a collection belt. The fibers mustn’t be allowed to tear, however. When this does occur, it results in irregularities in the fleece. The challenge was to establish what was behind the tear. An unsolved mystery, until Quante, together with another Data Scientist and a Data Engineer, analyzed the process and quality of data recorded over several years. The three scientists made a careful evaluation of a gigabyte of data. They established the cause, presented their results, and suggested solutions to those responsible. “Our counterparts greatly appreciated our findings. But for other colleagues, our results were a surprise since they had expected a different outcome,” says Quante. “When looking for solutions, we aim to provide our colleagues with interim results and illustrate them in a comprehensible way. This not only leads to improved understanding, but also to greater acceptance.”
Freudenberg values the work of its data analysts and recognizes their contribution to the success of the business. Quante’s team consists of mathematicians, economists and mechanical engineers, young and experienced employees. “Our basic interest is always the same. We seek to find hidden correlations from the data.” To do this, the team relies on new technologies. “Sensors have been recording data for many years. But now, thanks to cloud computing and enormous computing power, we can achieve added value from the data.” For data scientists like Nina Quante, this helps to solve various problems. Albeit that they “only” now know why irregularities occur in the nonwovens at Freudenberg and how to prevent them.