Tools for the hot forming of steel are exposed to high thermal and mechanical stresses. The service life of such tools is therefore often very limited. This results in high tool costs and an impairment of production due to stoppages for tool changes or production faults caused by damage to the formed material. A particularly critical application is the piercing of steel billets heated to approx. 1,200 °C by cross-rolling during the production of seamless steel tubes.
In recent years, SMS group has developed a technology for the production of hot forming tools subject to high loads under the name PQSC® (Premium Quality Surface Coating). Owing to the good thermal and mechanical properties of the PQSC® tools, plant operators can roll higher alloyed material grades, minimize production faults and boost the productivity of their plants. The PQSC® piercer plugs are characterized in particular by their long tool lives. 10 to 30 times longer tool lives are achieved with PQSC® piercer plugs compared with standard piercer plugs, depending on the material grade. The PQSC® process patented by SMS group allows an exclusive marketing of this key technology.
In order to meet growing customer demands, SMS group recently set up an ultramodern production facility consisting of starting material store, mechanical manufacturing shop and installations for the production of PQSC® coatings. Hot forming tools up to a diameter of 900 millimeters and a length of 2,000 millimeters can be made in the workshop. The throughput of the production facilities is currently 10 tons per day. In the meantime, SMS group is able to supply tube manufacturers worldwide with the PQSC® tools. With the new order platform, the ordering process will also be optimized in future.
Until today, order handling in the steel industry is characterized by complex and laborious, time-consuming processes; in short, it is inefficient. For customers a large number of communication channels are available, however, they are not interlinked. Up to now, orders are received by phone, fax or email. Therefore, transparency and clarity often fall by the wayside. This can lead to two scenarios: either bottlenecks occur because new parts are ordered too late or not at all, or excessive stocks result in a significant tie-up of capital and high process costs. With the new digital order platform, SMS group and SMS digital have set themselves the goal of eliminating this inefficiency and of creating greater transparency and clarity in providing information and in order handling.
The central element of this solution is a transparent order platform, via which the status of every order can be checked around the clock and from anywhere in the world. In addition, a comment function ensures simple communication without any misunderstandings by allowing notes to be entered by customers and SMS staff, referenced to the respective purchase orders. As a result, every customer can check his order overview containing among others the status of the respective order using search and sort functions.
A detail view of the different orders provides product details, the transport weight and further transport information. The possibility of additional order-based communication creates greater transparency, simpler tracing of modification wishes as well as the possibility of splitting an order if different delivery dates are required for partial deliveries.
Marketing our ultramodern PQSC® piercer plugs is the pilot project for the SMS order platform, which has been developed as MVP (Minimum Viable Product). The customeroriented approach enables iterative customization and further development of the platform on the basis of customer feedback. In this case, feedback of different users was repeatedly collected by means of simple illustrations (mockups). Through this iterative process the final product is precisely adapted to customer requirements and a common solution is then developed. In the next step, other product categories and performance characteristics are to be supplemented.