Case Study: Cleaning Up a Steel Mill Line

The steel mill industry had been thwacked by obscenely low prices charged by mini steel mills that were springing up in low wage Asian countries.  Even more irritating to the old-fashioned steel mills – they were producing the low cost steel at a much higher level or quality, faster, and with more on-time deliveries than the antiquated, union-driven steel mills Carnegie, Mellon and Heinz inspired.

As part of a larger initiative to turn an Australian steel mill into a much leaner machine with accelerated quality, The Exit Eagle worked with the Supervisors, Engineers, Inspectors and Operators of an Australian tin-plating line  to drive the responsibility for quality into every person involved in producing tinplate, from the rolling line to the tin plating operation itself.

The first order of business was to clean up the line.  It is difficult to create respect for the disciplined behaviors required to produce top quality consistently at half the cost if the workplace itself suggests it doesn’t matter how well the work was done.  And consistent quality – that eliminated the need for re-work, downtime, returned product – was the key to regaining competitiveness.

The “Before” shot

The cornerstone of the project was teaching team problem-solving skills to the operators and technicians so that they could solve problems on the spot rather than wait for “someone” to show up to fix the problem.  Morning meetings became the responsibility of the crew, as they recorded and prioritized problems, and worked with the supervisors to bring in the right people to solve the problems expediently.

After implementing housekeeping measures

It worked.  Want more detail?  Schedule an appointment to talk with The Exit Eagle.