I have a strong work ethic, excellent interpersonal and communication skills, attention to detail and drive to succeed. I work well as part of a team. I can relate to people at all levels to develop solutions. I am a good leader and a good follower. My attention to detail and analytical skills make me a particularly effective problem solver.
Areas Donald Houston is Knowledgeable in:
Production quality troubleshooting.
Paper coatings and laminations.
Explosive formulation and testing.
Techniques Donald Houston Uses:
Cause & effect diagrams.
Trial and error.
Extrapolation & interpolation (linear regression).
Root cause analysis.
Donald Houston's Problem Solving Skills:
Chemistry: Polymer Chemist, Chartered Chemist, formulation of paper coatings and laminants, explosives.
Profesionnal Problem Solver: R&D Technologist, QA Manager, Development Engineer.
Packaging: Transfer metallization, corona treatment, paper and film coating and laminating.
Material Science: polymer chemistry, surface science, rheology.
Mining: NORCAT Common Core Underground Certificate, ISEE Blaster Training Certificates Levels I & II, Explosives Engineer.
Donald Houston's Problem Solving Experience:
Delamination Strength Improvement. Low delamination resistance was a common problem at a flexible packaging company I worked. On a routine visit by our adhesive supplier, a new additive was offered that promised to increase adhesion between non-polar adhesives, such as the one we were using, and polar substrates, such as the papers we were laminating. I saw this as an opportunity. Samples were obtained, the best candidate selected, mixtures optimized, and the end result was not only a dramatic increase in delamination strength but a significant reduction in the formula cost.
Product Density Control. Sensitivity problems were experienced with a packaged watergel explosive. I evaluated samples returned with a customer complaint and discovered the density was above the specified limit. The product in question contained a large percentage of perlite, added to reduce the product density. Density control with this product was also problematic. I started a multi-pronged investigation to identify the causes. Product was made in the lab to monitor the density over time to provide baseline data. Excess variation was found in the perlite density. A meeting was held with manufacturing and technical people to brainstorm possible causes and solutions. I spearheaded the investigation. Plant trials and discussions with the perlite supplier were held. Adjustments were made to the mix procedure, the target density, and the perlite density specification. No further complaints were received.
Non-smear Plastic Label. A plastic label was required that could be printed upon without the ink smearing. I developed a coating that could be applied with existing coating equipment, stuck well to the plastic, did not block in roll form, would accept common computer ink, would not smear when rubber with fingers immediately after printing, and had an acceptable finished cost.
Adhesion versus Delamination Resistance. At a company producing flexible packaging, two opposing parameters were the need for easy delamination of a metalized aluminium coating from the film onto which it was deposited, versus the need for good adhesion of the aluminium to the paper to which it was transferred. Many factors contributed, including the percentage transfer agent in the film, the composition of the transfer agent, the amount and type of adhesive used to laminate the film to the paper, adhesion promotion additives in the adhesive, the drying oven temperature profile and residence time (web speed), the adhesive cure time and temperature, and the type of paper used. I worked with ingredient and equipment suppliers, consultants brought in by the process licensing company, and a sister plant in Mexico to refine and adjust the process, materials, and equipment to successfully produce a variety of transfer metalized paper products.
Innocentive.com. A solution I proposed was accepted by Innocentive.com for “A Highly Crystalline Polyethylene with Wettability Properties”.
Viscosity Control. Control of the viscosity of packaged watergel adhesives is important for safety and quality reasons. Viscosity is controlled mainly by the guar added, and its hydration. Mixes that did not meet the minimum viscosity specification could not be packaged, and had to be dumped and reworked. I was able to significantly reduce the number of bagged mixes by improving the viscosity control. I accomplished this by working with the guar supplier to reduce the variability of the viscosity produced by the guar and by working with engineering to improve the accuracy of the amount of guar added. A further improvement in mix viscosity control was achieved by optimizing the guar hydration parameters which included temperature, time, and lump minimization.
Mine re-entry time. The length of time required after an underground time before personnel can resume work is usually determined by how quickly the fumes generated by the explosive dissipate. I was asked to solve a problem where the length of time required to ventilate the blast area was too long. I met with the mine staff involved, witnessed a blast and the re-entry procedure, and then studied the factors involved with fume generation. Some of the factors affecting fume production are formula based. Some are application based. I addressed the formulation issues and made recommendations on how the application of the explosives could be modified to reduce fumes. The result was re-entry time better than the customer had requested, and according to them, better than they thought possible with our type of explosives.
Lithium Contamination in Sodium Nitrate. A pH problem arose with a product. It was drifting above the specified 24 hour limit. Working with a team I determined that sodium nitrate was the problem. A was tested and found to have high pH and more fines than allow by the specification. The fines also had a high pH. This was unusual. A sample of the SN and of the fines was sent immediately to an external laboratory for analysis. The website of the supplier indicated they also produced lithium carbonate. The Merk Index revealed that the pH of lithium carbonate is higher than that of SN. In consultation with manufacturing, the SN was screened to remove the fines so that production could resume ASAP. The cause was proven to the SN supplier. Replacement material was obtained and a claim successfully made. All required orders were shipped on time and on specification.
Reduction of Blocking. A common problem with cohesive coated paper products was blocking. That is, the inability to unroll a product which has a cohesive coating on one side. Ensuring the coating is properly dried and cooled helps, as does keeping the winding hardness as low as possible. The addition of an anti-blocking additive reduced the cohesion too much. I found additives which increased the cohesion and by experimenting with the levels of anti-blocking agent and cohesion agent was able to come up with a formula that had greater blocking resistance without loss of cohesive strength.
Metalized Copper Adhesion. Copper bonded to epoxy for the production of printed circuit boards must usually adhere to military specifications for delamination strength. I worked as part of a team with two engineers to come up with a way of promoting the adhesion of metalized copper to epoxy. This required a multi-disciplinary approach. I worked as the junior member of the team that eventually came up with a method which was the subject of my thesis.