Standardization Process in Steel Industry


Standardization Process in Steel Industry

In a large industry there are a large number of matters as well as items which are apt to become diversified, complicated, and chaotic if not timely controlled. Industrial standardization aims to develop, establish and implement industry level standards, protocols, and conventions as well as national and international level standards for simplification and unification of the working.

Standardization can be defined as reducing, simplifying, and organizing matters which are apt to become diversified, complicated, and chaotic if left uncontrolled. It is the process of formulating, issuing, and implementing standards. Standards can be defined as rules specified for standardization.  Standards are documents that provide rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, for common and repeated use. Standards aim at achieving the optimum degree of order in a given context. The entire industry as well as all the activities of the industry benefit from standardization due to the improved working environment, increased safety, enhanced quality as well as lower transaction costs and prices. There are mandatory standards and voluntary standards, but generally formation and the implementation of the voluntary standards contribute maximum to the process of standardization in the industry. Standards are usually classified in three types namely (i) reference standards, (ii) minimum quality standards, and (iii) compatibility standards.

Standardization process is a powerful tool in the hands of management of the organization to simplify the operation and to reduce the inventories of raw materials, in-process materials, finished products, spares, consumables and other store items. It helps to create a strong, open, and well organized technological infrastructure that serve as a foundation for innovation led growth. For organizations of all sizes, effective standardization promotes innovation; enhance productivity and helps in improving the efficiency of man and equipment. It defines expectations, formalizes processes and creates accountability. It helps in credibility and in focusing the issues.

One of the key aspects of standardization in the workplace is that it creates routine procedures that each and every employee can follow to complete his task and responsibility. Standardizing steps in a process helps to reduce the chance that someone will omit or brush over some aspects of the process. Since employees need not have to stop the activity for considering the best way to complete the assigned tasks, results into continuity of work for maintaining productivity and hence helps in efficiency. It also helps to ensure uniformity so that final products and services are consistent. Standardization can also be human focused or can be automated.

Standardization provides a standard for measurable results. Consistent low performance against standard means that something is not being done correctly and hence corrective actions is needed. Documenting measurements in relation to prescribed standards can help one set target goals for improvements.

Attributes of a standard

Standards usually have three attributes. They are given below.

  • Level – A standard can be at the company, national or international level.·
  • Subject – Example of subject can be engineering, metallurgical process, management etc.
  • Aspect – Examples are specification, testing and analysis, packaging and labeling, process parameters monitoring etc.

Phases in the process of standardization

To reach the high level of process standardization a promising practice seems to be to divide each standardization project in three different project phases following an initial prioritization pre-phase (Fig 1). Within the first project phase, the project is communicated to all relevant departments and locations, the project team (representative process experts from affected locations or departments) is defined and the future process owner is appointed. Within the second project phase the standard process design is being developed by the project team considering best practices of former process variants before standard process implementation follows in project phase three. The whole project is centrally coordinated and moderated by skilled moderators providing methodical support whereas the actual process design is developed by process experts. To ensure and maintain standardized and centrally coordinated process operations in complex international organizations, an adapted operational concept, clearly defined responsibilities as well as communication and escalation procedures are needed.

Standardization

Fig 1 Phases in the process of standardization

Significance of standardization

Standardization contributes to economic activities. The aims and significance of standardization can be explained as follows.

  • Fitness for purpose – Standards helps in identifying the optimum parameters for the performance of a process, product or services and the method for evaluating product conformity. Standards also lay down conditions for using the process, product or service, as otherwise any failure of the process, product or service due to improper use may be attributed by the user to a deficiency or lack of quality of the process, product or service.
  • Interchangeability and variety reduction – By standardization it is possible to make processes, products and services interchangeable. Variety reduction is one of the main aims of standardization and it helps in optimizing the number of sizes, ratings, grades, composition and practices to meet prevailing needs.
  • Product quality standards – Standardization can ensure certain levels of product quality. Standardization concerning product quality should be prepared, focusing not on the need of the organization but to meet the needs of the customers. These standards should satisfy the requirements of the processes employed as well as the requirements of safety and environment conservation for meeting the regulatory and mandatory legislation.
  • Streamlining of procedures – Standardization helps in streamlining of all the procedures in the organization. These procedures can be related to stores and purchase, sales and marketing, production and technology, process control and quality control, and issues related to human resource and technology etc. Through standardization conflict between departments and processes can be eliminated thus encouraging the team work. Standardization also helps in avoiding duplication of work.
  • Facilitating communication and learning – Standardization helps in providing same the information to all concerned and thus help in communication. This information can be in form of specifications, measured parameters along with the quantities and the tolerances allowed, and monitoring of the performance along with the methods followed. These information which are in the form of documents, are a good source of learning for the employees.
  • Improvement in the efficiency – Standardization helps in better utilization of resources since it simplifies and homogenizes the raw materials, spares, consumables, and products. This simplification and homogenization helps in enhancement of the production efficiency. Standardization can be used to formulate flexible rules through technical adjustments by carrying out necessary unifications and simplifications.
  • Facilitating competitive environment – Standardization of different functions, evaluation and assessment methods promotes competition in the performance because objective comparison becomes feasible. This competitive environment helps in in the improvement of all the activities which in turn improves the performance of the organization.
  • Securing compatibility and interface consistency – Compatibility is suitability of processes, products or services to be used together under specific conditions to fulfil the relevant requirements, without causing unnecessary interaction. Standardization mandate compatibility between various components and functions which in turn secure interface compatibility and consistency. This also helps in simplifying the communication.

Benefits of standardized work routines

Benefits associated with implementation of standardization in an industry are described below.

1.    Improvement and simplification in the decision making process

2.    The manufacturing processes gets rationalized through standardization

3.    Improvement in the productivity without any stress

4.    Improvement and consistency in the quality of work

5.    Consistency (reduction of variation) in performing the work among the employees

6.    Involvement of employees and their empowerment

7.    Either elimination or reduction of non conformity in execution of work

8.    There is stability of work process

9.    Most effective sharing of the information

10.  Improvement in environment and employee’s safety

11.  Since there is reduction in wastages, cost management is improved to a great extent

12.  Standardization provides the management a tool for the training of the employees

13.  It helps management in close monitoring of various processes

14.  Standardized processes in conjunction with the organizational culture helps in development of system thinking amongst the employees of the organization

15.  Standardized processes offer an opportunity to codify best practices and facilitate effective coordination among individuals and groups working on a complex problem