«Zaporizhstal» Integrated Iron & Steel Works produces about 3.5 million tons of finished metal rolled stock per year. The Works sells it to thousands of customers in dozens of countries around the world. But the requirements of the customers are constantly tightened. Traditional quality and products mix is not sufficient for successful competition – all major manufacturers offer it. In order to strengthen the market position, the company focuses on further improving the quality, meeting all customers’ requirements.  Today’s interview with Acting Director for Production Process & Quality of “Zaporizhstal” PJSC Andrey Kravets is devoted to the way in which metallurgists are improving their work on quality and customer-oriented approach.

— There is one simple rule in today’s metal market: consumers need quality products, with unique characteristics. It is very difficult to keep the customer against the backdrop of a slow growth in demand for steel and an overabundance in the world of metallurgical capacities, especially in China. Therefore, it is very important for any company, for our Works, to bring our work to a new level in terms of quality.

Many improvements has been done in recent years. In 2017, the Works reduced the level of non-conforming products by 5.2 times compared with 2012. The level of reject is reduced by 5.4 times compared to the situation of five years back. Nevertheless, one cannot dwell on this today.

In 2018, metallurgists have to solve tasks that are even more ambitious. Guarantee for prevention of the non-conforming products manufacturing. Maximum reduction of the number of customers’ claims due to quality.

Since January, Zaporizhstal started a project on arranging work with the key customers. Its result will be the creation of a system for accepting and tracking the fulfillment of orders, developing and observing production technologies tailor-made for each key customer of the Works. In fact, this system will reduce the likelihood of obtaining claims from key customers.

— How is it possible to reduce the claims number?

— The most important metallurgical defects for us today are: spill, skin, corrosion, non-planeness and thickness difference. A number of measures implemented in the main workshops were aimed at elimination of those defects. Thus, in the steel-smelting division, a technology for measuring the oxidation of metal in molds and ladles was introduced to eliminate spill and skin. The design of the energy compensators of the metal jet is changed. The approach to the production of steel grade 20 had been cardinally changed and now we expect for the results.

To eliminate corrosion of cold-rolled steel, the original wrapping paper had been replaced with a denser one. In addition to paper packaging, a protective film is used to prevent moisture from entering. New preservative oils are being tested.

To eliminate defects: non-planeness and thickness difference, a program had been developed to select the optimal profiling of rolls, based on the planned product mix. A number of other measures had been implemented.

— How the approaches in the field of customer relationship are being changed?

— Working on quality improvement is a common work, all production workers, each on his own site, must be involved in it. For this purpose, we build up the internal interaction of various services to the needs of the customer. Two groups have been set up to deal with key customers – for hot-rolled and cold-rolled products. They were headed by the deputy superintendents of the workshops on technology and quality – Alexander Gladilchenko at HSRMShop and Sergei Rusakov from the CRMShop No.1.

The specialists of steelmaking, technical management and quality control are most directly involved in the work of the groups. They introduce solutions that will allow them to manufacture products that fully satisfy all the customer’s requirements.

Individual rules are prescribed for each key customer. These are those features of technology, which are not available in the manual and which should be paid special attention when carrying out the order.

Now, there is a separate quality-recording system for each key customer for the execution of the order. Besides, a production schedule has been prepared, and a system has been established to monitor compliance with such a schedule and the timing of shipment.

During each multiport conference, you probably hear the phrase: for the key customer. This means that the execution of orders is under special attention at all sites.

— Getting closer to the client is a common task for the whole company. How does the Works interact with the Operations Department regarding the issues of quality?

— For more close interaction with customers in terms of quality and product development, the Technical Service Department is working as a part of the Operations Department. It, if it is possible so to say, “translates” the client’s requirements into a language understandable to the producers; it has become a kind of channel for communicating with customers on issues related to the quality and to the requirements for our products. The department initiates the development of new products, based on the requirements of consumers.

Besides, monitoring the implementation of activities aimed at satisfying the interests of the key customers is in the key tasks of the Technical Service Department. It is scheduled that once a month, the representatives of the department will come to the Works to check the fulfillment of the provisions developed for key customers. That check-up is to be carried out by means of the check-lists, which also became an innovation of this year and currently include 22 quality issues. Then, at a meeting with the Director for Technology and Quality, Yevgeny Popov, we get the necessary feedback.

The first such visit of representatives of the technical service department to Zaporizhstal took place on January 15. Experts noted that our company has established a clear work with key customers.

— Thanks for the interview.