Elena Gudimova was appointed to the position of Head of Quality Management at PJSC ArcelorMittal Kriviy Rih. She is the person who knows all nuances about new steel grades and types of products at the company, which are an integrant part of a valuable product line of PJSC ArcelorMittal Kriviy Rih. In the interview for the corporate web site, she explained the reasons to implement specialization in production at three CCM, to execute the selective reconstruction of mills and establish the independent quality-control areas for the finished products.
– You joined the company at the age of 17 – did you study extramural?
– Yes, financial situation of my parents did not allow me to lead carefree student life, therefore I worked and studied in parallel, and I don’t regret. I graduated from the institute with honors, and I got practical knowledge at our metallurgical laboratory. I felt blessed to work with specialists who had vast experience and academic education, they taught me many things, and I gained valuable knowledge of metallurgy.
– You have been a head of this laboratory for three years. What has changed in it since that time?
– In total I have a 10-years’ experience of working at the metallurgy laboratory. Its requirements were always well known for us. At the proper time we were supported by a technical director V. Cholet, as a result we were able to modernize it fundamentally. And now we have the greatest laboratory in Ukraine among the plants of mining and steelmaking sector. Considering our possibilities in the area of tests and researches, we actually have our own R&D center, which is able to give support to the plants of our segment. In particular, to the Kazakhstan site of the Group in Temirtau.
– Why were you transferred to another structure?
– My manager made me an offer of growth in a position of manager on quality and coordination of R&D projects in the department of development of new types of technical management products. During this year and a half I studied all basic processes of the company, coordinated the production of new products starting from steelmaking to the processing of finished products at the customer’s place, coordinated work with the Corporate R&D center, that enabled me to take the best from their experience. In addition, I was responsible for the analysis of customer claims concerning quality of our products. Feedback is very important. If it is negative – it is a red signal for us, which confirms a failure in the chain of quality control. One would think, that to detect and punish a guilty party is unmistakable, but ineffective way. High-skilled technical specialist, who understands nuances of technological process, is able to assess the situation in its entirety, if it is necessary to make adjustment both on certain area and in the monitoring system.
– How many new types of products have been elaborated for the last three years?
– I cannot tell you the total number right now, I need to count, many new grades, product mix, and newly applied standards came out. For example, I can say that our department was engaged in application of a whole product mix of the cast billets in the operating CCM. For example, low-silica steel grades became available at our company – excepting wire rod, this product is shipped in greater volume as billets-for-sale. ArcelorMittal Kriviy Rih is one of few companies of mining and steelmaking industry that mastered these steel grades cast by open jet. That became a competitive gain for us, taking into account high demand on different markets, including European one. Now in connection with the forthcoming start of the modernized Light Section Mill 4 and new CCMs, new opportunities are emerging for us.
– What your department deals with besides the cast billet?
– Practically with all products, that later is rolled on mills of this cast billet (wire-rod, rebar in coils). We provide a technical support up to the point of processing of our products by customers. For example, by hardware plants. Let’s consider Stalkanat-Silur company, which is the leading producer of ropes and rope strands in Ukraine. When they came into the European and American markets with their products, we adapted our technology to the requirements of European and American standards. Naturally, requirements of these markets are harder. Our world is changing, competition is increasing, and improvement in equipment and technology of production is the only way for us. It was only yesterday that internal customers were satisfied with our products processed according to the national standards, and today it is more difficult to sell such kind of products – quality requirements rise. A customer frequently narrows frames for us set by standards of products, and nobody has canceled a gold rule “The customer is always right”. If we want to retain our customers, we need investments in our rolling mills. A production chain that begins in an open pit or in a mine finishes exactly there. The end result of the company work depends on this equipment. Our mill employees are smart persons, they do their best, but there is not enough.
– Does the company have enough financial resources for their reconstruction?
– Certainly. АrcelorMittal Kriviy Rih is an investment leader in Ukraine. It focuses on strategic development of the plant, and quality of the finished products is a part of the strategy. Currently, the quality depends on a revamp rate of our mills. Year to year a volume of orders for the processing of high-quality products with high added value increases, as well as profit on sales. For instance, in 2017 we already produced 142 thousand of high value-added products, though this volume was twice lower 3-4 years ago.
– Is modernization of LSM-4 related to the investments referred to above?
– Of course. In addition, I would like to stress that this complex reconstruction of light section mill involves a number of aspects and various changes that will allow us to reach a new quality level. However, the modernization is global and expensive, and there are problems in the technological processes of LSM-5 and LSWRM-6 (mill with the widest product mix), resolving of which will lead not only to improvement in the productivity and reduction of production losses, but also to quality improvement. Our Quality Department will focus on the finished products – that will be visible for the customer. It is necessary to organize the fixed quality-control area for finished products directly at rolling mills based on the experience of other companies of ArcelorMittal Group. It will provide hundred-per-cent control over quality, and will allow cutting the downtime of mills caused by setting up the technological modes. We understand that if blast-furnace process stage fails, steelmaking process stage will catch up and will correct, but there is nobody who corrects the mistake of rolling process stage. This is not to say that other stages will relax, all cycle will remain under control, but this control will be with increased focus on a quality of the finished products. Except for all usual audits on technology, analytical methods of control will help us. The analyses of technological process and testing results will help to identify weak points and resolve them. We have a large potential of development, at the moment only part of processes is automated and visualized, it is necessary to keep moving.
– Will anything change with the commissioning of new CCMs?
– It will drastically change. There is big demand for the existing CCM now – it produces the orders both for billets-for-sale and rebar in coils. We have to change processing methods constantly and this affects both the productivity and quality resulting in certain difficulties in staff work. Specialization of production flows on three CCMs will have positive effect on product quality, and it will enable equipment setup for standard production process and thus will facilitate staff work.
– What else do you want to add to the work of the department?
– I have plans. However, I don’t want to tell about everything in details yet. I need to discuss them with the company’s management first as they have broader angle of view and they see the situation in complex. I think that the most important is people’s approach to the results of their work. Everyone should do their work with high quality and value it and this directly affects the quality. For this purpose, we will have to change motivation system for people working on rolling mills. We can use the experience from other companies. For example, we can use the experience of hardware plants that I have visited and seen how they are organized. It is required to use different mechanisms of motivation and we will do it. (AMKR/Ukrainian metal)