Nucor Steel Gallatin produced the first hot coil following a comprehensive upgrade of its production lines using SMS digital’s Manufacturing Execution Suite (MES 4.0®) at its Gallatin steel plant in Ghent, Kentucky, USA. The new production planning and scheduling system replaces a legacy system developed in-house by Nucor. Following an incremental implementation and software commissioning, the MES project was successfully completed and integrated throughout the plant.
State-of-the-art technology components
With the MES 4.0® system from SMS, Nucor can now improve its production planning with a comprehensive modular planning system, comprising state-of-the-art technology components such as the Technical Order Generator, Capacity Planner, Production Sequencer, Short Term Scheduling, Quality Manager, and Production Controller. In addition to MES 4.0®, SMS also offers a Business Intelligence Manager to optimize business analysis and reporting for better evaluation of the company’s productivity and key performance indicators.
Advanced data-driven production planning
The integration between MES 4.0® and the Nucor ERP system was redesigned and implemented at the same time. As a result, areas of responsibility can be clearly divided between the systems, resulting in improved planning options and the possibility of rescheduling orders in the short term. MES 4.0® was developed and implemented with state-of-the-art technology using advanced data-driven production planning and quality management methods. The system allows product rejects to be minimized while simultaneously improving product quality for a faster return on investment.
“We are proud that Nucor uses our digital solutions for complex manufacturing processes. The MES production planning system gives Nucor better transparency. A true team partnership between Nucor’s IT team, SMS and all third parties involved has created a fully integrated system that will also enable significant savings of valuable resources in production processes in the future,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Katja Windt, Chief Digitalization Officer at SMS group.
Live within just sixteen hours
In the first stage, the brownfield extension was applied to all existing production lines at Nucor. After several integration tests and a successful shadow mode period, in which production data was run through the upgraded system in parallel, the new MES took over from the existing system and went live within just sixteen hours. The new production lines, consisting of a new melt shop, a caster, an extension of the hot strip mill (HSM), and a pickling and galvanizing (PGL) line, were subsequently included in the upgrade.
“It is vital for us as a manufacturing company to produce as efficiently as possible and optimize the allocation of resources. With SMS, we have a highly specialized and extremely versatile expert to accompany us in this transformation process. We appreciate their unwavering commitment, their dedicated and pragmatic approach, and their excellent collaboration, even under the constraints of the pandemic,” said Tamera Vaughan, Information Technology Supervisor at Nucor Steel.
SMS digital’s solutions are able to integrate all third-party interfaces to map the entire production process. The flexible modularity of MES 4.0® offers the option of including additional functions directly in the system. In the context of digitalization, MES 4.0® works in conjunction with quality management software, such as SMS digital’s Quality Execution System (QES), in which product quality is monitored, evaluated, and certified for dispatch.
The crucial factor behind Nucor’s decision to collaborate with SMS in the digital connectivity of the new production lines by means of MES 4.0® was the high added-value expertise resulting from the strong combination of proven SMS technology and digitalization solutions. Since the final commissioning was to take place during Nucor’s annual shutdown, it required smooth collaboration between the Nucor and SMS teams. The SMS team faced several challenges during this project due to its incremental implementation with a very heterogeneous automation setup as well as the global COVID-19 crisis. By implementing a successful remote commissioning strategy, SMS was able to respond flexibly to Nucor’s expansion schedule.