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Product quality

The quality of our carbon black has a direct impact on the performance and safety of our customers’ own products. As a leading global business focused on carbon black manufacture, we are in a strong position to supply our customers with innovative materials that are consistently of the very highest quality.

Quality assurance

In FY2020, we continued certification of our sites under the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) 16949 requirements. All our manufacturing sites are now International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 and IATF 16949 certified, which provides a sound basis for our sustainable development initiative. This system helps us to continuously improve on our overall performance and customer focus. Our quality management system (QMS) is integrated into every process within our manufacturing sites (operations, plant quality, maintenance and repair/instrumentation, and warehouse/shipping) and is regularly reviewed and audited internally.

As part of the QMS, each production facility has a quality assurance (QA) laboratory, which uses state-of-the-art equipment to test our products against stringent shipping specifications. These QA laboratories, along with the other functions, ensure that the material sent to our customers complies exactly with their specific requirements.

Receiving industry-first certification

In May 2020, Birla Carbon became the first and only global scale carbon black manufacturer to achieve IATF certification for all 16 manufacturing sites. This achievement highlights our commitment to the highest levels of manufacturing standards and product quality, and confirms we meet all the requirements of the global Quality Management System standard.

Improving our processes

We continuously seek to make our manufacturing processes better and, following the requirements set by the IATF 16949, we are developing a system through which we can identify costs caused by poor quality. The system tracks these costs through several elements:

  • Customer claims
  • Complaint-handling costs
  • Returned material and associated freight due to complaints
  • Nonstandard production

Information on each of these is gathered from the relevant internal functions, including Accounting, Customer Service, Supply Chain and Operations, and is then tracked and analyzed by our Quality Management team. This data supports our management review process to monitor trends and develop actions for reducing costs, as well as improving customer focus and satisfaction.

Sharing best practice on product convergence efforts

In FY2020, we established several quality-related key performance indicators (KPIs) for internal communication through regional and global quarterly reports: Net Promoter Score (NPS), complaints and process reliability. These KPIs will help us continue to improve Quality Assurance Processes, our information-sharing program for quality issues and for devising solutions. The goal of this program is to prevent reoccurrence of quality issues at the same, or other, manufacturing facilities and to improve communication and awareness of quality initiatives and improvements to the benefit of all manufacturing sites.

Our Global Quality group, in collaboration with Plant Quality Managers, determines what information should be shared and how best to distribute it. All information is shared throughout our facilities in the form of a Quality Bulletin, which is maintained for employee reference on our SharePoint.

Focus on product consistency

Birla Carbon customers expect a product that consistently meets the highest quality standards. For carbon black, these standards focus on three key areas: colloidal properties, physical form and cleanliness.

Working with ASTM

Our plant laboratories are regularly audited by our Quality Technology group and assessed twice a year through an international proficiency testing program, the Laboratory Proficiency Rating System (LPRS). This program, organized by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM International), provides us with an opportunity to internally compare our laboratories with nearly 100 industry laboratories worldwide. If LPRS identifies any anomalies or deviations, we conduct internal investigations, with support from our two world-class central laboratories located in Marietta, USA and Taloja, India. This commitment to sharing best practice ensures our laboratories meet the very highest global standards.

Birla Carbon actively participates in the ASTM D24 Technical Committee, which develops internationally recognized and accepted test standards applicable to carbon black. The ASTM standards play a key role for our products in areas such as composition, properties, classification, nomenclature, analysis and QA.

ASTM D24 Technical Committee

Our global quality management approach

Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

A CoA contains the required product quality information for our customers and contact details.

Guaranteed consistency

We work with our customers to establish rigorous consistency tests to guarantee that the characteristics of our carbon black lie well within the specification limits.

Customer tests

Our customers often conduct further stringent and thorough quality tests to confirm our product’s performance.

World-Class Manufacturing (WCM)

Our WCM approach helps us continuously improve the quality of our product through adapting the best available practices and technologies across Birla Carbon.

Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)

We conduct MSAs to closely examine the performance of our testing equipment.

Quality Organization

Regular meetings are held between quality leadership, plant-specific Quality Managers and the Technical Service Managers to discuss and implement best practices in the area of quality.

How we are supporting the SDGs

SDG 17

Partnerships for the goals

We work with our customers, as well as external organizations such as the IATF, ASTM International and ISO, to improve our quality management processes.

SDG 9

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Our product helps by supporting the development of quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and we perform rigorous testing to ensure our product is consistently of the highest quality.

SDG 11

Sustainable cities and communities

Our product enhances sustainable urbanization, and we have global systems in place to ensure it meets both our own standards and the expectations of our customers.

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