The orders received by Hi Tech are small in volume – an average order has 70-80 pieces of refractory material. Some orders could be as small as 10 pieces. The orders are placed on a monthly basis. Big steel plants generally order 1000-1500 different refractory shapes every month. The lead time before the orders is 1 week. Within a month of order, customer gets his order.
In certain cases, a partial order can also be completed within a week. In one shroud, you can have 5-6 different ceramic materials.Organic binders are used so that all materials stick together. This is done under high pressure (greater than 100 bars). The lifetime of most shrouds is 1 day or even a few hours.
Steel manufacturing plants require a constant supply of refractory material. Typically, manufacturing one tonne of steel requires 12-13 Kg of refractory material. Thus for refractory industry, the final product is consumable and with a limited life time. The moulds required for an order are made as per the order.However, if a customer places a repetitive order which spans over many months, the company invests in high quality moulds to use them for the production of the same pieces over a long period of time. These moulds are made of very strong materials designed to withstand thermal shock. Some specialised moulds cost 30000- 50000 Euros and are used for high value repetitive orders.
The mix for casting can be customized and they can be different for different customers. The order specifications have strict upper and lower control limits.X-ray scanning is used to determine the composition of the sample materials. The quality check norms need to be stringent and the system needs to be designed such that it rejects an order that delineates out of the limits. Currently, hi-tech has one sliding gauge plant which has a sliding gate, iso-static line. The raw materials used are oxides, silica carbide, boro nitrate. The materials used are abrasive and thermo shock resistant.
Supplier selection Purchase Manager is assigned with the task of choosing a supplier for different raw materials. He takes the decision of selecting a supplier.A supplier needs to go through various norm checks. He has to be accredited and thereby the purchase manager would have to submit a trial batch in agreement with the customers. Before the product goes to the customer, destructive testing takes place to ensure quality. Before the product is dispatched to the customer, a full signoff is required by all managers on the shop floor. Generally, a 1kg sample is selected from 1 tonne of the production. Every operator has his limits and control plan.
He takes a sample and checks it through certain parameters.