An exciting facet of the industrial field is that each plant has curious similarities with human society as we know it. It is an organized group, formed for a specific purpose and having several different activity areas. From human resources, machinery, raw materials acquisition, manufacturing processes, testing, finished products, shipping and billing, all the divisions of this "micro company" have their own structures, habits and interests. Although varying in size, each of them is as important as the others in order to obtain a functional and efficient organizational ecosystem. By definition, the diversity and uniqueness of the actors within the plant require a personalized IT solution that reflects, in a concrete way, how the different sectors interact with each other.
In order to correctly illustrate the importance of a "customized" plant management software, let's take a brief look at our latest achievement: "IOM" for theBig River Steel (BRS)'s Mill - Arkansas. The anagram "IOM" stands for "Integrated Order Management".
Let's briefly analyze the different stages of this terrific project.
The Preliminary Analysis Phase
In order to master the relationships between the various departments of the BRS factory, our first step was first to take a moment and reflect with the actors who work in each one of them. In addition, we had to determine the different functionalities required for each production step.
The sales department needed several features to properly manage customers. The determination of these was done using company divisions, contacts and delivery addresses. The module also contained the various sales contracts. Finally, the management of external suppliers was also determined in the sales module.
The management of the different manufacturing processes, as well as the various finished products have been added to the production module. In addition to product management, there were production limitations such as machine capacity or technical and chemical specifications (ASTM, JIS), with a lot of data related to the production of a single steel coil.
Once the customers, the stages of production and the products are configured, we started the development of the order taking module. This is one of the largest components of the application. It involves the receiving of orders, the management of "Parts" and finished products as well. Finally, the development of the system enabling communication between the various production systems made it possible to monitor production in real time.
Acquisitions and Distributions Module
Material acquisition management was an essential part of the specification process. The price and the quantity, the storage of the raw materials in addition to the management of the gates and the scales: using these with the various transport methods (boat, truck, train) was a real challenge for the whole team. As a result, all this information led to a very precise monitoring of the material inventory, a plus for the BRS team.
Product distribution brings us to another feature for applications of this magnitude. We have worked with other vendors to provide a viable and functional system over a long term period. With the help of our custom communication tool, information was transmitted to the distribution systems. This tool made it possible to quickly track orders for shipments and all related costs.
Finally, the financial module of the application required discussions with various executives to determine the best methods of work. For example, we developed a billing system that sends the invoice information to their Microsoft's Dynamics system, which then generates a client invoice.
Prototypes & Design
Once the different stages of production at BRS were well defined, we were able to group all the business processes identified during the preliminary analysis stage into several modules. In order to visually present what their custom factory management system would look like, we then produced a multitude of sample screens. Once the visuals and screens were approved, we started developing the documentation.
By having predefined visuals and a high level of documentation, it was easy to develop the different business rules adapted to the real needs of the customer. These documents accelerated the development of the customized IT solution with minimal error and subsequent touch ups.
The customer paid only for what they needed and did not have the impression of acquiring a big "popular", heavy and difficult to adapt software solution. They now have a totally personalized system that sticks to their business reality. Since it is fully owned by them, BRS remains fully in control and realizes great savings in the medium term since this solution also contains free technical support.
Big River Steel Project
Project Length : 19 months
Type of Construction : Steel Mill
Special Features : First steel plant to fully integrate artificial intelligence
Design : SMS Group
Investment : 1,3 Million US
Certification : LEED
Type of Products
- Hot Rolled
- Hot Rolled Pickled & Oiled
- Cold Rolled
- Cold Rolled motor Lamination