Firing Up Production

September 3, 2012 by Claudia Linke 0

Companies in the steel, aluminum, and copper industries worldwide turn to SMS Siemag’s tailored products. The company is a leading provider of smelting plant and rolling mill technology, covering reduction smelting, steelmaking, secondary metallurgy, continuous casting, the construction of hot and cold rolling mills, and strip processing lines. Competitors in South Korea and China are not put off by the complexity of this industry. 

Complexity No Bar to Efficiency

With both markets and competition in Asia growing, SMS Siemag has to stay competitive overseas and protect its leadership in technology. That’s why they are always looking for ways to build their highly complex and specialist plants faster, more cost effectively, and better. Easier said than done: No facility ever  equals another. You might think that there isn’t much scope left for increasing the efficiency of partly automated construction processes but the people at SMS Siemag wouldn’t agree.

Next Page: Getting Ahead with SAP

They used to document and manage electrical equipment such as sensors and actuators in their motor and component spreadsheet. The drawbacks: Data was stored locally and not centrally; the spreadsheet contained redundant articles; people updating it made errors, which lead to inconsistent and poor quality production information and delays in the construction process. “We wanted to bundle our electrical and mechanical engineering throughout, improve the quality of engineering, and speed up the entire workflow,” says Martin Schneider, head of plant engineering and hardware design at SMS Siemag.

Getting Ahead with SAP

At SMS Siemag, SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM) paved the way to more efficient engineering and standardized products and processes across all the company’s locations. The application was the foundation for a construction platform to bring mechanical and electrical engineering processes together. SAP PLM’s full set of functions for managing product master data and product structures enabled design engineers in the Process Control Center (PCC) to create function-based plant structures very efficiently, map field devices in detail, and add links to other information. “We achieved our aim of creating a common engineering design basis that covers other engineering steps,” says Schneider. This helped SMS Siemag reduce engineering times, improve quality, and be more competitive.

Next page: The Workflow that Flows

A Workflow That Flows

The company uses PCC to manage its master and transaction data for its electrical components in the SAP software. Templates containing detailed information about the electrical properties of each field device make the engineering design transparent. Electrical properties, automation structure, defined hazardous areas, and safety requirements can be seen at a glance. Design engineers used to copy plans they already had and adapt them to meet the needs of the customer in question; now they can select the components they need and generate tailored construction plans at the press of a button.

The integrated construction platform based on SAP PLM has enabled SMS Siemag to complete various specialist plants quickly, cost effectively, and to high quality. High rates of reuse and a limited range of devices speed up the construction process and make it easier for teams in different divisions and locations to work together. Standardization across disciplines means that SMS Siemag can look forward to more efficiency gains in the future: “The more projects we handle using the new construction platform, the greater our savings potential,” says Martin Schneider.

Next page: About SMS Siemag PLM is something the company will be looking into in the future as well. “In our hot and cold rolling mills business we have gone live with PCC and other engineering tools, and they have proved their worth,” says Martin Schneider. This shows that the tools can be implemented in other parts of the business. Standardization will be rolled out step by step, and the quality of the entire engineering process further improved, keeping SMS Siemag ahead of the competition.

About SMS Siemag

SMS Siemag is a German company with over 140 years of experience in developing and modernizing smelting plants, rolling mills, strip processing lines, and environmental technology. Working with its affiliates, it plans, develops, finances, constructs, installs, automates, and trains. To meet the challenges of the future, SMS Siemag is also investing in the latest technology, and in modernizing and expanding its global manufacturing capacity. This enables the company to have a sustainable growth rate and keep full order books. SMS Group’s revenue was €3 billion in 2011.

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