Professional Experience

Burks PU Consulting LLC – April 2016 to present

  • Utilizing extensive polyurethane processing, development, blending and production expertise to reduce costs, reduce scrap / repair rates and improve processing of numerous PU application parts and processes. ( i.e. Seating, NVH, HdR, AR, Hoodliners, Headliners, Instrument Panels, Interior Trim, Household Appliances, Integral Skin, etc. )
  • Performed root cause analysis and developed countermeasures to reduce scrap / repair rates on HdR parts by 80 % which realized a cost savings of over $ 4000 / month after only working one week in the plant.
  • Reduced scrap and repair rates on Tier I racetrack automotive seating line by over 80 % with a one week visit. Trained line personnel on root cause analysis and countermeasures which has led to an $ 8,000 to $ 10,000 / month savings in foam scrap and repair of seating pads.
  • Reduced tear down and lower profit after-market sales of refrigerators by over $3,000 / week on one large commercial household refrigerator production line.
  • Reduced scrap and repair rates combined with manpower reductions at a major JOEM seating plant by over $ 2,000 / day after only one week’s of work in this facility.
  • Working with PU Elastomer startup to improve the chemistry of the polymer and commercialize this in PU RIM or SMC type customer applications.
  • Reduced scrap and repair rates on an open pour racetrack seating line by 70 % after a one week visit to the plant and one-month remote support. Utilized pour pattern training along with defect identification by tool, type and location during the plant visit.  Then, to achieve these savings we had follow up weekly Teams Video conference calls / eMails.
  • Developed new Integral Skin formulations for Filters and Interior Trim applications for a global customer meeting all specifications and at a lower cost due to modifications to the components in the new formulation.
  • Introduced new pour patterns into open pour seating lines at customer in South America reducing scrap and repair rates with lower shot weights.
  • Trained numerous personnel at multiple customers on root cause analysis, troubleshooting to lower scrap and rates on numerous open pour carousel / racetrack lines, box foams, and both open and closed pour production lines.
  • Developed and shared with customers processing guides for flexible foams and rigid box foams for thermoformable PU foams used in headliners and hoodliner applications.
  • Developed new all MDI seating formulation to replace TM Blends meeting new Low VOC standards which met all physical property requirements, had excellent open pour processing and reduced overall cost for the formulation.
  • Worked with the customer to develop lower cost in house prepolymers that provided equal to improved processing, met physical property requirements at lower cost.
  • Developed viscoelastic formulations for Automotive NVH and low-density viscoelastic pillows.
  • Worked with a multiplicity of PU customers to replace expensive raw materials with lower cost alternatives that meet physical property and processing requirements.
  • Provided expertise to significantly improve the mixing performance of different HP heads at different PU customers using optimization program for each specific HP head and application.
  • Worked with start up company on formulation development for the commercialization of a CASE PU polymer.

USci – Urethane Sciences – May 2018 to April 2022

  • Utilizing extensive polyurethane processing, development, blending and production expertise to reduce costs, reduce scrap / repair rates and improve processing for numerous PU customers, applications, and processes.
  • Leading the development of new technology for USci in automotive molded foam applications, prepolymers, viscoelastic polyols, cell openers, catalytically active polyols, green / renewable flexible foams, and rigid foams.

Magna Seating / MSCT – November 2014 to January 2016

  • Optimized numerous aspects of polyol blending operation. This included proper order of addition, improved addition rates with bulk blender recycle line, optimized bulk tank mixing without capital improvements and champion for the introduction of cell opener usage to improve overall processing at our customer’s seating and headrest plants.
  • Optimized the QC process for polyol blends. This included being the key supporter to move to improved Foamat Testing protocol using one cup method, introduced % OH and basicity testing methods as QC test, greater accuracy of batch sheets / CoA / record keeping and improved existing % H2O testing method.
  • Lead the move that each PU Foam Seating plant must be responsible for the manufacture of PPAP testing foam pads, optimized standard foam pad production protocol for testing to include three indexes and three pack factors for all physical property testing.
  • Supported the manufacture of standard 1X seating block tools for Magna Seating plants.
  • Worked with isocyanate supplier to develop better method of providing a more consistent product to MSCT to help standardize QC testing such that changes in isocyanate reactivity were minimized and reduced seating plant charge backs due to swings in processing attributed to the iso lots delivered.
  • Worked with base polyol supplier and MSCT to eliminate rejected railcars of base polyol through formulation optimization to help improve batch to batch consistency and processing at both internal and external customers.
  • Lead the effort to eliminate the use of more expensive components in polyol blends in favor of lower cost additives which reduced the cost of our polyol blends to save $ 0.02 – $ 0.05 cents / lb or over $10,000 / week in savings. Lower cost blends yielded improved processing at both internal and external customer plants.
  • Lead the effort to eliminate a higher cost filler in favor of lower usage of a secondary hydroxyl cross-linker in multiple formulations. This allowed our customers to narrow their index ranges and optimize their pack factors to improve the overall processing of these new blends at all Magna seating and our HdR customer plants.  This reduced defect rates for automotive seats and headrests at all these facilities.
  • Built a strong relationship with each Magna seating plant and external customer plant’s key technical and management team. Accomplished this very quickly to help with fast implementation of new lower cost but improved processing formulations at these plants.  Always willing to travel to customer plants for weekend trials or extended stays to provide technical service support for processing issues.
  • Introduced numerous templates and processing aids for MSCT staff and customers. This would include flexible foam index / processing guide, index calculator, R&D lab template, HP machine work template / data recording, cup form testing method, IFD template based off index / pack factor matrix, log sheet for recording production spikes into blends, training matrix showing the impact specific catalysts and other additives have on the reactivity of polyol blends, improved R&D Calculation sheet for developmental project blends, standardization of component equivalent weights for MSCT team in simple spreadsheet format, perusal of bulk / tote and drum best mixing practices for MSCT and customer plants, pre-trial plan for customer trials, improved trip report form, process set up sheet for customer plant trials, key contributor to layout for future MSCT expansion and authored a report that identified key best practices for open pour processing of flexible foam applications.
  • Lead the initial design and layout for the expansion of MSCT including step by step bulk tank usage to allow for new base polyols to be introduced to provide better physical properties and aesthetic feel to Magna automotive seats and for other future application areas.
  • Lead the effort to improve rail car sampling of polyols for improved safety and consistency of the testing results.
  • Initiated the effort to improve the drum and tote mixers at MSCT and customer plants.
  • Lead the effort to purchase new drum dolly and drum picker for improved safety at MSCT.
  • Recommended direct addition of “green” polyol additive through static mixer at each seating plant instead of blending this polyol into bulk blenders at the blending plant ( eliminated need for bulk tank with heat and agitator at MSCT / also allowed direct tote shipments from green polyol supplier to seating plants ).
  • Identified the need to improve the sheer mixing efficiency of our bulk blending systems to improve the shelf life stability of our complex formulations for our customers.
  • Lead the effort to improve the recirculation efficiency of our customer’s bulk tanks to improve shelf life stability of our blends.

The Dow Chemical Company – August 1983 – October 2014

Dow Automotive                      Senior Technical Development Leader                      1988 – 2014

  • Developed numerous fast demold flexible PU foam systems for Instrument Panel & Interior Trim ( IPIT ) applications, head rests / arm rests, seamless passenger side inflatable restraint ( PSIR ) door instrument panels, thin cross sectional instrument panels with PSIR doors, noise and vibration harshness ( NVH ), integral skin ( IS ) arm rests / dunnage, all MDI seating, and many other applications.
  • Developed numerous rigid PU foam systems for a variety of applications including fast demold systems for headliners, box foam systems for hood-liners, insulation and Energy Management Foams using open, closed and spray application processing.
  • Developed and commercialized one minute demold closed pour polyurethane foam systems for instrument panels, NVH, headrests, etc. for numerous customer applications globally.
  • Developed lower density, low odor and low VOC one minute demold PU foam systems for successful capture of new business in a multiplicity of application spaces.
  • Developed and qualified first spray rigid PU foam system for automotive headliner applications that can be demolded in 1 minute and then, bonded to the foam on fabric material at 300 + deg. F only 3 minutes after the rigid foam headliner core was demolded.
  • Developed chemical formulations for fast demold wet headliner technologies that utilized a single polymeric MDI and base polyol blend for a multiplicity of headliner processes.
  • Developed fast demold natural oil / renewable PU foam systems for IPIT, NVH, Headliners, HdR and other PU application areas which had equal processing and physical properties to petroleum-based PU foam systems.
  • Technical Leader for interior PU foam applications for a team of 7 people ( 4 Chemists / Engineers and 3 Technologists ). The team increased Dow’s sales from < 3 MM lbs. to over 12 MM lbs in 4 years.
  • Developed a multiplicity of integral skin foam formulations for a variety of applications which utilized a single pre-polymer and similar polyol blends using different blowing agents.
  • Recognized expert in the use of Polyurethane Foam Flow Analysis for improvement of the design of closed pour platforms to yield lower foam related defects at launch.
  • Recognized expert in process troubleshooting, root cause analysis and finding countermeasures to eliminate foam processing issues on production lines
  • Provided technical service and formulation technology support for more than 30 OEM and Tier I production plants globally over the last 25 years.
  • Technically responsible for over 15 MM lb. of automotive PU business at multiple customers each year at Dow Auotomotive.
  • Mentor for new chemists / engineers in the PU applications development areas globally.
  • Co-development of Foam Calc 4 software for formulations management

Dow Polyurethanes R&D – Freeport TX                       Senior Chemist                        1983 – 1988

  • Developed novel CoPolymer Polyol compositions including Epoxy and PU ( PHD & PIPA ) dispersions to compete against SAN CPP.
  • Developed non-halogen FR approaches to flexible PU foams including the development of “melt flow” technology for seating and HR slab foam systems. Patented.
  • Processing and physical property improvements for slab and seating TDI foam systems in support of Dow global markets. This included the synthesis of new base polyols for these applications.
  • Development work in the lab on new cell openers and high functionality polyols for molded foam applications.

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