Arme is a flat steel manufacturing company in Colombia, producing steel pipes and profile sheets for a range of structural and mechanical applications. The firm has the capacity to produce more than 180,000 tons each year using the latest steel processing technologies. This helps position the operation as one of the most modern facilities in South America, with the capability of delivering the closest dimensional and flatness tolerances possible using modern precision cutting and levelling lines or longitudinal cutting and tense-levelling lines.
To maximise the capacity of the factory, the firm had always worked hard to optimise material use, but this was achieved using manual processes in an Excel spreadsheet. While the method worked well enough it took a lot of staff time to calculate the best combinations available to make the best use of the steel. As with any manual process, it was easy to introduce errors, and there was no guarantee that the final usage patterns were necessarily the most effective.
This meant that it was more difficult to control inventory to make the best use of the available steel, and the firm often exceeded the maximum scrap limits allowed. Human error meant that some products did not perfectly meet customer specifications and these risks were mitigated with overproduction, yet the firm often found they were unable to supply the volumes needed by their customers. Inevitably, there was a large product inventory of materials that had no defined customer or use.
The senior team at Arme recognised that improvements were needed to make better use of materials, and, after our initial conversations, they were very interested in the potential implementation of our trim optimisation software X-Trim to improve their production processes. The implementation process took just two weeks with 11 hours of training provided by our highly qualified and experienced team. We then worked with Arme’s staff to start replacing their manual optimisation processes with X-Trim.
X-Trim now provides the factory teams with the information needed to make better use of their steel stocks, optimising inventory, and increasing the speed of the operation. Manual measuring and calculations have been replaced with a software process that is completed very quickly – between 50 and 150 seconds – and fully eliminates human error.
This means that production times are reduced as programming the cutting machines has become an automated process. The software delivers optimum cutting patterns, making better use of steel stocks and leading to improved productivity with fewer cutting batches, less wear and tear on the blades and, as a consequence, reduced machine maintenance.
Overall efficiency gains have been huge for Arme, with scrap reduced by 0.4% (from 1.35% to 0.95%), while providing greater control and accuracy over the production process. Errors have been eliminated and purchasing steel is more cost-effective because it is easier to calculate volumes in advance and to order steel rolls in the optimum sizes required for delivering each customer order.
Arme’s senior team have also been impressed with the support provided by Greycon, noting quick responses, continued improvement of the X-Trim platform and the training provided to support these developments.
X-Trim has allowed us to transform our production planning system, reducing the workload by automating the optimisation of materials, reducing the product in process, significantly reducing scrap, helping improve our competitiveness and profits. I highly recommend its application as a powerful tool for productivity