There are many areas in the manufacturing process that can be monitored and analyzed for further optimization. Optimization improves process speeds and overall yield or output. In this post we have identified three areas steelmakers should focus on to further optimize their process.

Reduce Downtime

Unplanned downtime costs steelmakers money so it is critical that steelmakers implement systems to limit and curtail these downtimes to the best of their abilities. According to research from the ISA, almost every factory loses at least 5% of income to lost productivity from unplanned downtime—although some factories in certain industries lose up to 20%. No matter where you are along that 5% to 20% spectrum, you want you unplanned downtime to be as short as possible. Strategies we have identified are:

  1. Establish and Implement Production Goals
  2. Move from a Reactive to a Proactive Approach
  3. Train Employees and Implement Continuous Improvement for Training
  4. Find and Mitigate Obvious Production-Killers
  5. Implement Tighter Process Control Monitoring

Utilize Fully Integrated Automation

Generally, when identifying early candidates for automation, you want to look at jobs that fulfill the 3 D’s: Dull, Dangerous, and Demanding. Jobs that involve repetitive tasks, jobs which can injure workers, and jobs that take place in contaminated environments are all great candidates for manufacturing process automation. Once these areas for automation have been identified they then need to be fully integrated and stored as “recipes” depending on the product being manufactured. The only alternative to creating recipes involves having a worker manually reprogram your machines each time a production order changes — a potentially error-filled process that defeats the purpose of optimizing the process.

Utilize proper tools and make sure they are accurate. An infrared pyrometer provides a key safety advantage over contact measurement sources. In fact an infrared pyrometer can provide more reliable measurements when the appropriate wavelength technology is used and can be tied into PLC for even tighter control and optimization of the process.

Waste Management

To increase the total output it is important to understand the inputs. Monitoring and eliminating waste is a surefire way to reduce this burden. As a matter of fact the easiest way to eliminate waste is to reduce, reuse or recycle as highlighted by the World Steel Association. Steel makers have started to adopt waste recovery technologies that repurposes waste into products that can be sold or re-used. In fact, steel makers are now referring to would be waste as byproducts because of this new commitment to reduce waste.

Reducing or better managing waste will result in lower manufacturing costs. When by-products are re-used as a direct input in new production or further processed and sold this effectively will lower the cost associated with steelmaking. Further, many steelmakers are monitoring and eliminating wasteful energy consumption. Steelmakers are no longer constantly overheating/overcooling allowing them to manufacture their product more efficiently while generating less waste.

steel mill overview

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