A global stainless-steel producer was struggling to achieve tonnage expectations for their continuous caster. For privacy reasons, the stainless-steel producer in question will be referred to as The Company.
For several years, The Company was using five different machine shops to refurbish their caster rolls. At the time, The Company’s continuous caster was producing 200-250k tons of product between equipment changes, far below the industry standards. As a result of such poor performance, The Company began the search for a reliable repair shop that would help extend the life of their rolls.
Attention to Detail
In 2007, Kocsis began supporting The Company with roll refurbishment services for their caster rolls. These rolls ranged in size from 140 mm to 290 mm in diameter. Early in the partnership, Kocsis noticed that existing vendors were failing to repair roll journals and faces which led to many rolls not complying with the OEM’s prints. Upon further review of this issue, The Company decided to audit each of their roll repair vendors to better understand their repair processes.
During the audit, Kocsis explained their refurbishment process which included fixing roll journals, faces, water plugs, and bores. Kocsis was performing a fully comprehensive repair process which would lead to lower costs over the lifecycle of the roll. The Company’s engineers fully understood the potential cost savings, and Kocsis became the supplier of choice for their caster roll refurbishment needs.
Building A Partnership
In the early years of the partnership, Kocsis introduced two main improvements to the refurbishment process. First, Kocsis informed The Company about a bearing reclaim process offered by a Kocsis partner, Caster Maintenance Company. This led to cost reductions for The Company since fewer new bearings were necessary during each segment build. Second, Kocsis developed upgraded overlay chemistries which improved the longevity of the caster rolls.
As the partnership became stronger, Kocsis began assembling The Company’s rolls and providing inventory management services. Turnkey assembly and disassembly allowed for thorough inspection of the rolls and their associated components. Kocsis used these inspection findings to define areas of improvement by analyzing wear and potential failure points. Additionally, the inventory management program deferred costs for the customer until they used the product. Kocsis still provides these value-added services for The Company to this day.
Over the years, The Company and Kocsis have worked closely to make incremental process improvements while monitoring the performance of the continuous caster. Currently, this continuous caster has produced a record breaking 1.8 million tons of product between equipment changes. At the end of November, Kocsis expects this caster to break the current record again by reaching the 2-million-ton milestone.
Additionally, Kocsis’ refurbished rolls have led to fewer segment changes. From 2007 to 2009, The Company averaged approximately 55 annual segment changes. Currently, The Company averages about 20 segment changes per year.
Together, these benefits have increased The Company’s capacity for steel making, reduced their maintenance times, and decreased the amount of caster rolls being repaired each year. Overall, The Company’s roll performance demonstrates the reliability, proven processes, quality overlays, and attention to detail that has allowed Kocsis to become a market lead in the steel services industry.