Understand Your Production (1 of 3)

Step 1 of 3 – Understand Your Production

(Get the Good Tonnes Out – Step 1 of 3)

Liquid metals processing is complex. We are the first to acknowledge this. In fact there are few similarities between traditional manufacturing industry and liquid metals processing.

Having said that, we still believe it is possible to stay in control and be proactive; it is just a little bit more complicated.

This post reviews the first step of three in the series Get the Good Tonnes Out and focuses on the importance of understanding you production. In fact, this is absolutely fundamental to be able to form a rock-solid foundation to build upon. There is no way to build a well-functioning metals production strategy, processing events, and operations handling without a thorough understanding on the specific capabilities and limitations.

So, to get started; what does “understanding you production” really mean?

  • Is it to know the amount of slag former addition on all grades?
  • Is it to understand how the procedure works when exchanging the sliding gate plates in the tap hole?
  • Is to know the production logistics?
  • Is it to understand why the porous plugs fail to open on way too many heats?

The political answer is “It depends”.

The management guru answer is “No, you as a manager only needs to know the broad picture”.

My answer is “Yes, why shouldn’t you”.

The above examples are common issues arising from time to time in metals processing and production. You as a manger would most likely have stumbled upon them during your career and, thus, should have a clue on how things work. Even if you do not master every detail you should understand the basic operations and limitations in all areas of your production – it is called experience.

Some people might object to this view since the steel plant management cannot in detail understand the operations of all equipment, all processes and daily quirks. This is true to a large extent but in some cases this might just be the right medicine – especially if your production throughput depends upon it; critical problems may require deeper understanding.

A thorough understanding of the sequence of events, the strategies behind the process steps, the routines for maintenance actions, the secrets of production logistics, and the practical limitations and interferences is knowledge the management should acquire.

The point I am making is that nothing beats experience when it comes to understand liquid metals processing and production!

So, get out there and understand what is really going on:

  • What are the reasons behind all these obstacles? How are they related to handling, equipment, processing, maintenance, logistics, etc.?
  • What are the most important actions required to increase stability in production?
  • Are we distinguishing processing from production and make the right priorities?

Make sure to build your opinion based on your own experiences. Second hand statements are always biased one way or the other, or built on those well-known truths that has been accepted for years but never challenged.

We believe this is the number one major shortcoming of today’s steel production – the metallurgists and managers simple not have enough time to spend on the shop floor. To have a desk-view of the production will not be good enough and eventually you will get lost.

So, cancel all meetings, schedule time-slots for shop-floor tours, and get out there – understand your production!

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And, yes, the same applies for your next IKEA assembly extercise; if you do not understand the mounting principles and follow the basics your Billy book shelf will not look as nice as intended.

Thank you for reading!