The Steel Industry is one of the industries that need large capital investment for production facilities. All steel companies need to utilize their capital equipment effectively in order to be profitable. Working at full capacity reduces setup costs and increases throughput, but it also leads to large inventories and delays in filling customer orders. Finding ways to maintain full production while meeting customer demand is a constant challenge for companies in the steel industry.
In recent years, the steel industry has been characterized by consolidation, globalization, and cost pressure and the industry continues to change dramatically.
The Steel Industry is a continuous process industry with discrete entities which have long production cycles, and where the complexity is very high. There are fundamental product and process issues that make the steel industry unique. Traceability must be maintained from the original heat and casting all the way through to the end product being shipped to the customer.
Rising input costs including energy prices, are exerting a continuous pressure on steel margins. Due to the constant change in the demand and supply patterns of the global economy, top steel producers strive to gain a competitive advantage by creating a supply chain that can quickly respond to a small variation in market demand.
Key challenges of steel companies are many:
- To be able to utilize key assets optimally
- To be able to maximize throughput and productivity by synchronizing activities and minimizing delays and increasing overall production
- To be able to co-ordinate the multitude of activities occurring in the various workshops within the steel works (blast furnaces, converters, electric ovens, steel refinery stations, continuous flow shops, steel rolls, up to the final cutting stages)
- To be able to optimize inventory investment, including raw materials, WIP and finished inventories
- To be able to implement very dynamic scheduling rules and, through better scheduling, decisions to improve quality and product yields
- To be able to track and synchronize the plan with real events from the shop floor
- To be able to make reliable customer delivery promises
- To be able to improve transportation efficiency
ICRON solutions support the unique operational requirements of companies that transform material through melting, casting, rolling, forging, drawing, annealing, slitting, extruding, stranding or cabling to produce product.
ICRON’s Planning and Scheduling technology can help to improve every aspect of your production process from increased throughput to higher machine-utilization rates. Implementing ICRON APS will better synchronize material flow and will schedule production optimally.
The solution also enables decision making support by providing insight into causes of late orders, analysis of shipping estimates and consideration of detailed scheduling constraints. This means a Unified Planning across departments, enterprise and even the total Supply Chain. ICRON uses its Start Small Scale Fast approach enabling a 100% fit distributed planning.
Scenario Planning and what-if analysis enable a short-term, mid-term and long-term planning horizon for your company and even the total Supply Chain.
ICRON gives decision makers increased control and visibility across the entire supply chain for an overview of the entire supply network so that areas of potential improvement can be identified and realized in addition to the financial benefits such as:
70-90% reduction in planning cycle time (integration and process automation);
15-30% improvement in forecast accuracy (collaboration and forecasting);
20-30% reduction in excess inventory (improved forecasting);
25-30% reduction in stock-outs (high customer service),
ICRON Platform gives companies in the Steel industry many other benefits such as:
- Supply Chain Visibility; ICRON is a ‘finite capacity’ scheduling system. This means that ICRON identifies forward resource conflicts and bottlenecks, determines possible solutions and staff can raise these issues with management. Solving such problems ahead of time avoids potential crises and reduces costs.
- With no limit on the number of authorized users that can access an ICRON Server planning and feedback information is transferred in real-time to all stakeholders from management to work-floor. This is one of the cornerstones of Six Sigma and LEAN operations.
- Sustained Optimization; Best operating practices are defined and captured in the Operations Research phase of an ICRON Implementation. These are then applied across all operations. Fast rescheduling capability ensures that any operation is held to optimum performance at all times.
- Workload reduction through auto-scheduling; typically up to 80% compared to manual techniques. This provides additional time for effective production control and plan implementation, as well as generation of scenario analyses. This typically translates to a 5 – 15% reduction in total operating costs.
- Business Process Improvement (BPI); Fast solution times and auto-scheduling capability transforms a planner’s role from data preparation to scenario analysis. By producing multiple offline schedules and selecting the most suitable one, a planner can identify better ways of working, better processes and thus practice sustained BPI.
These benefits and more leading to a revenue and margin increase of minimum 5%.
100% fit: Using the Distributed Planning Concept it allows a 100% fit since all stakeholders will be able to contribute and participate in the Company Planning. It certainly also allows Scenario Planning up to the greatest granularity.
Unified Planning: Being able to not only plan one production site, but a real-time live recalculation of all constraints in the total enterprise.
Distributed Planning: Making departmental planning optimization and yet being able to link and coordinate all of these planning environments in to one integrated Planning using all constraints. This is a unique and nowhere to be found capability of the ICRON Distributed Planning Solution.
Continuous Optimization: ICRON helps you in creating the right planning and decision making but also in managing the disruptions during the execution of the planned such as: Material Shortages, Employee availability, Plant availability, Production Schedules and more.
Visibility and Control: Enhanced Supply Chain Visibility improves Industry wide Collaboration. This leading to cost reductions and improved customer responsiveness.