18.04.2012 | Slovakia

Steel Production in Strážske Controlled by IT

Slovakia Steel Mills accepted the comprehensive information system for manufacturing operations management from S&T Slovakia

Information technology is essential support of modern steel production
Since the very beginning of any plans for construction of a steel mill in Strážske, company SSM has had an ambitious goal – to build a modern, safe and environmentally friendly greenfield steel mill of the 21st century. “The vision of steel mill SSM is to become a successful and competitive manufacturer of structural steel in the European market,” Ing. Marián Cicman, the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of SSM, said.

“Modern steel production trends are based on reduction of costs, energy intensity and burden of production on the environment,” Ing. Marián Siegfried, the member of the Board of Directors and Technical Director of SSM, explained. “We decided to build a plant that belongs to the category of mini steel mills. That means that steel is produced exclusively from the secondary raw material – ferrous scrap. This allowed us to skip one entire section of primary production. In cost comparison, our production is more efficient and more environmentally friendly.”

Another aspect of SSM mini steel mill´s operation in Strážske is a contract-based nature of its production and its ability to respond flexibly to the customers´ requirements. “Our plant does not produce any inventory; we built this mill to be able to adjust flexibly the manufacturing parameters to the customers´ needs and produce tailor-made products fulfilling their requirements,” Marián Siegfried explained. “The steel mill in Strážske is equipped with the best available technologies while all manufacturing processes are fully automated and integrated. Production is controlled by a comprehensive information system which reliably supports the entire production management process and its parameters,” the Technical Director elaborated. This ranks the mini steel mill in Strážske among the technologically most advanced steel mills in Europe. The closest mill in possession of comparable advanced technologies is based in Taiwan.

This means that the information technology capable of managing such flexible production system is a vital part of the plant located in Eastern Slovakia. “For SSM information technology is a core of its production. Therefore to implement the information system SSM was looking not only for an information technology supplier, but mainly for a partner able to support and develop both the vision and business plan of SSM on information system supply in such way to make the technology a competitive advantage of SSM based on integrated vertical interconnection of individual managing levels,” representative of the Board of Directors of SSM for IT, Ing Vladimír Jančuška, said.

Giant greenfield project
Company SSM chose S&T Slovakia, one of the leading IT service and solution providers in Slovakia to supply the complex information system. The widest experience of S&T Slovakia with implementation of projects in the industrial manufacturing field as well as flexibility of the company in funding options of the entire project served as the main reason for choosing this IT partner.

The implementation of this demanding project included gradual implementation of SAP-based ERP information system adjusted to the steel mill´s needs; development and deployment of specific manufacturing execution systems (MES), creation of a central dispatch with number of integrated subsystems (such as security, CCTV, attendance, IP-based voice communication system, 
energy consumption monitoring) including document management and creation of highly available data centre using the virtualization technologies. Partnership between SSM and S&T Slovakia also includes outsourcing of services for the period of 36 months during which S&T Slovakia is hold responsible for operation of all IT systems in SSM.

The task of S&T Slovakia was to coordinate the number of subcontractors – both for the application and technological section, and to integrate all solutions into a single comprehensive information and management system during the actual construction of the steel mill. The result of this cooperation is the information system which controls nonstop 24/7 production system and, moreover, it provides the management of SSM with a detailed overview of all events in the steel mill as well as information needed for decision making and managing the plant – all of these in real time.

Only few Slovak IT companies have a chance to participate in planning, preparation and implementation of comprehensive IT infrastructure and production control processes right from the beginning when the construction of a new plant is still in the phase of planning. The biggest challenge the experts at S&T Slovakia had to face was creation of an interface, which would collect information from a special custom-programmed MES manufacturing system and transform it into data that could be further processed by ERP information system providing information output to the mill´s management.

“Since the very beginning we perceived cooperation with Slovakia Steel Mills as a unique project and challenge at the same time. For us, like for SSM, this was a greenfield project that was very demanding both in terms of solution complexity and also in terms of project management and system integration,” Peter Dovhun, Country Manager of S&T Slovakia said. “We are glad that through successful implementation of this demanding project we could support fulfilment of the SSM management’s vision to build and successfully operate a modern steel mill. I believe that also thanks to our solutions and services, which control the entire plant operation, the steel products manufactured by SSM Strážske will quickly find their consumers. We appreciate the opportunity that confirmed our position among the leaders in system integration in Slovakia and allowed us to gain valuable experience for partnerships with other clients,” Peter Dovhun concludes.