The key to ensuring that everything works
Denis Hennessy Director of Product Development, Big River Steel
You have been using the X-Pact® MES 4.0 system from the very first coil. What benefits has this offered BRS?
MES 4.0. was fundamental to helping us start up. Benefits include the functionality, the data management, consistency from front to back. It interfaces with all the lines. It is key to how we disposition, manage, schedule and handle the coil inventory for the whole mill. Without it, the mill would not work. With MES 4.0, we are going to continue to develop as we do our other phase expansions. It’s a tool we chose to use to help Big River expand and be the best steel mill in the world.
The flexible analysis has allowed us to cut the rate of transitional slabs by half.
You have prepared a very sophisticated test and sample plan based on the order and material requirements. What are the reasons for this?
Sampling has always been an area which we knew we could always do better. MES 4.0 and the new system allowed us to build a system from scratch, including all the different testing directions, sampling throughout the whole mill from hot rolling, cold rolling, galvanizing, pickling, to give us the samples we needed timely without creating extra work or waste on the line, and it gives the operators a more efficient way to do their jobs and help us as engineers to disposition the steel and get it out to our customers, ensuring all the specifications are met and exceeded.
SMS group has created a unique piece of software for BRS: the flexible analysis. What is the purpose of this X-Pact® MES 4.0 module?
Flexible chemistry’s idea is to take a look at the heats. In each heat, you’ve got multiple customer orders; some have very specific ranges which they allow. We looked at how we could customize each heat. Even though they are all of the same grade, they may have different setpoints within each of those grades. Flexible chemistry lets us do that by adjusting it based on the setup and the schedule and looking at the chemistries within it. By using that, we can better marry up our sister heats to minimize any transitional slabs, taking our opportunity to prime it. This is already a great benefit for Big River, as our transitional rate is approximately half of what we saw historically in other places we’ve worked.
What was your experience of the cooperation with the MES 4.0 team?
Early on we developed a very good work relationship with SMS group, especially with the Level 3 teams. A lot of nights and weekends were spent working together as we developed it. Both teams were open to new ideas and new concepts. The good ones were taken and put into the system. We now have more functionality to customize orders and look at costing than we’ve ever had before. It’s a key part of how we run Big River, key part of how we manage our performance, and we’ll continue to develop it with SMS group.