Steel and Continuous Improvement

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Continuous improvement as a business strategy
Introduction
The steel manufacturing company Corus focuses on meeting the needs of its worldwide customers and providing innovative solutions. It manufactures, processes and distributes steel and aluminium products worldwide. Corus is a subsidiary of Tata Steel, part of the giant Indian conglomerate. Tata Group includes businesses in many industries - for example, chemicals, automotive, telecommunications, leisure and consumer goods (such as Tetley Tea). Tata Steel acquired Corus in 2007 as part of a strategy of international expansion. Steel is everywhere in our homes and all around us. Corus Construction & Industrial (CCI), a business unit of Corus, has steel manufacturing facilities in Scunthorpe, Teesside, Scotland and France. The key markets for CCI include construction, energy and renewables, engineering and machinery, mining and earthmoving equipment, shipbuilding, fastenings and rail. The principle manufacturing site at Scunthorpe covers 2,000 acres and employs 5,500 people. The site consumes 6.5 million tonnes of iron ore and 2 million tonnes of coal each year to produce 4.3 million tonnes of steel products. CCI products go into a range of leading edge developments: Rail Steel Sections Main supplier to Network Rail, SNCF (French railways) and Metronet (London Underground) Wide ranging construction projects – e.g. warehousing, shopping centres, hospitals, tower blocks (Canary Wharf), bridge components, stadia, machinery (bulldozer track shoes, fork lift trucks) Everything from paperclips to bolts, to bed springs, bridge wire (for suspension bridges), tyre cord (to strengthen vehicles tyres) Ships, construction and mining machinery, wind towers, oil rigs, bridges, (e.g. the Humber Bridge), major construction projects, tanks and pressure vessels. Steel plate is also used in harnessing renewable energy such as in wind turbine towers.

CURRICULUM TOPICS • Continuous improvement • Empowerment • Target setting • Changing culture

GLOSSARY Subsidiary: an organisation that is part of a larger company. Sections: H or I cross-section steel beams and columns in various lengths and thicknesses. Rods: long lengths of generally round (typically 5-15mm diameter) cross-section steel supplied in coils. Plates: large area flat steel. A typical ordered size is 10m long x 2.5m wider. Thicknesses range from 6mm to 80mm. Plant: buildings or machines used in industry. Differentiate: to distinguish a business from its competitors.

Steel Rods Steel Plates

Modern steel production is a large scale operation dealing in huge quantities of materials and products. The process of steel plate production has several stages: • receipt of pre-cut steel slabs from the steel plant • reheating of slabs • rolling to achieve required dimension and mechanical properties • initial inspection for surface or quality defects • cutting to order size • marking with unique identities • cold levelling to agreed flatness standard • final inspection • loading and despatch to customer. Producing large volumes helps to drive down the costs of running huge and expensive steel plant. Overall, this results in steel being a relatively inexpensive product, typically around 50 pence per kilogram, about the same as a kilogram of potatoes. In a major building project, such as a shopping complex, the cost of the steel can be as little as 5% of the overall cost of the project. Because of these issues, CCI needs to differentiate its business from its competitors in order to continue to grow.

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CORUS

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GLOSSARY Greenfield site: land not yet built on or buildings on land that has not been used for building before. Continuous Improvement (CI): continuous incremental improvements in manufacturing and other processes. Inventory: a stockpile of goods. Lean production: an approach to production that looks to minimise waste and inefficiency. Scheduling: planning activities...
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