Steel Manufacture is a heavy-duty industry where the majority of the value adding work is performed by machines.
OneSteel’s Australian Tube Mill in Acacia Ridge in Brisbane have completed their first improvement project as part of the nationally recognised qualification of ‘Certificate IV in Competitive Manufacturing’ delivered by Excellence Coach Peter McGregor of The Improve Group .
Australian Tube Mills are manufacturers of structural steel hollow sections and DuraGal Profiles.
Steel pipes, tubes and other products produced to strict Australian Standards for the Australian, New Zealand, South Pacific and South East Asian markets and are manufactured at their Australian facilities in Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne.
The focus of the Competitive Manufacturing project was the improvement of Quick Changeover times across five different mill processes.
The changeover of mill components for different steel tube products can take between thirty minutes and four hours. Australian Tube Mills saw more value in undertaking the Quick Changeover training to improve their processes and recover any lost downtime that occurred during their ten-ton-per-hour steel production process.
Five project teams were let loose with The Improve Group’s Peter McGregor at the helm. Their charter was simple – to identify a changeover opportunity that was achievable within six weeks and would reduce the changeover time by thirty percent.
Five areas were identified - the coil slitter, turks head change, saw blade change, paint station and the zincteck size change. The first improvement process focused on the coil slitter.
At Australian Tube Mills’ Acacia Ridge operation, up to six coil slitters can be changed in a single shift. Under Peter McGregor’s guidance and coaching, the team planned and improved changeover time by 40% and are aiming to reduce the process even further.
A single ten minute improvement in this area equates to Australian Tube Mills’ production of over 15,000 extra tons of slit coil each year.
The Turks Head change process yielded similar results for the steel tube manufacturer and for The Improve Group. A standard of 50% reduction time was set and once the project was completed, not only was this achieved, but it also created an additional capacity of six tons of steel each week.
Peter McGregor said that by documenting and analysing the current production processes, the course participants were able to capture the presence of process waste and therefore reduce process times.
Peter McGregor also added that the staff became eager about the changes and became more passionate about the processes. The project planning, analysing and the results they got opened their eyes to what can be done, what can be improved and what it means to the organisation and ultimately to their livelihood.
Australian Tube Mills’ results were better than expected. They were able to demonstrate that a 50% reduction of changeover time was easily achieved by the new processes.
With this success story, continuous improvement in changeover practices is now a key business objective of all mill teams at Australian Tube Mills, with some already setting a target of world class by achieving SMED standards of less than 10 minutes for the changeover.
Australian Tube Mills Technical Training Officer, Albert Baker led his team through this improvement project and has seen the results first hand.
Albert said, “The shop floor operations team is so enthusiastic about the benefits they can see from the coaching received. The training has given them a clear line of sight. They’ve seen first-hand how it reduces their time and effort and ultimately makes their job easier.”
“They crews have become more confident and have been spreading the competitive manufacturing word to other teams within the company. From a company point of view, it’s really exciting as we’ve just started the road to increasing our profits further thanks to this project.”
“The more time we can gain and not waste is more time we can put into production. We will see significant changes and benefits within the first six months. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for us all. ”