Rigorous competition in the steel service industry is creating an environment where steel manufacturers are feeling the pressure to fast-track processes to provide the fastest steel services to their clients. This is especially true in the automotive steel industry, where balancing speed and quality has been the name of the game for quite some time. But at what cost?
To achieve speed without sacrificing betterment in other areas, key topics to consider are infrastructure, consistency, technology, process controls, safety, and communication. For example, National Material of Mexico recently underwent a sizable expansion at their Monterrey location. The steel production increased by 120,000 tons, putting NMM’s annual production at 300,00 tons – twice the production capacity as before. In order to ensure quality and on-time delivery, certain measures had to be taken:
- New slitter with automatic threading to reduce coil set-up times
- Safety guards and optical curtains to guarantee lock-out/tag-out practices for increased safety
- Spur capacity increase (up to 9 rail cars per day)
- Drive-thru doors installed at both ends of building
- More loading docks were added
- Truck scales installed
- Factory floor visibility from offices
It is not enough to add new machinery and personnel. It’s crucial that any new infrastructure design is supported by a strong work flow protocol. In NMM’s case, the very architecture is intuitive, allowing trucks and rail cars to flow through naturally, eliminating the need to ever shift gears to reverse.
“There are many ways to ensure quick delivery without sacrificing quality,” states Carl Grobien, Vice President and General Manager of National Material of Mexico, “to meet the demands of customers’ requiring advanced high strength steels, we needed to make this investment. We decided to increase slitting capacity and improve our process for unloading and handling shipments to become more efficient and responsive to our customers’ needs. These are the kinds of ways companies can become faster while actually enriching the product and process. We are focused in becoming a world class operation, we will succeed in this endeavor.”
Once a strong infrastructure is developed, it’s important to maintain as consistent environment as possible. A new system falls into place – a virtuous circle of efficiency is created, and in turn, a better functioning process is the outcome. Yes, it IS possible to foster fast steel services without sacrificing quality.
More About NMM and National Material L.P.
NMM is a subsidiary of National Material, L.P., a steel giant that has been in business since 1964. Their network of 7 plants (including joint ventures) has a combined slitting capacity of 1 million tons and a configured blanking capacity of 300,000 tons. With continued expansions and improvements, the National Material group live up to their legacy as a leading supplier of quality steel.
Contact National Material of Mexico: 011-52-81-8319-4828 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org