Product development through continuous improvement
A Corus case study

Page 1: Introduction

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Corus is part of the Tata Steel Group, the world's sixth largest steel producer. Within Europe, Corus is the second largest steel producer with average annual revenuesof around £12 billion. The company produces more than 20 million tonnes of steel each year, mainly in the UK and the Netherlands. It has a global network of sales offices and service centres, employing around 42,000 people...
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Page 2: Continuous improvement (Kaizen)

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Since the 1950s many manufacturing techniques based on quality have been developed. 'Kaizen' is one of these and is Japanese for 'continuous improvement'. This focuses on making small continuous improvements across all functions, systems and processes within a business. For example, waste is a cost to Corus. Continuous improvement contributes towards lean production. Lean production occurs...
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Page 3: Product development

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The steel for the new aircraft carriers needed to meet a very high specification. Materials for warships have to be able to endure the unique conditions in which they operate, such as extreme temperatures or high seas. This contract required grades of steel with strength and toughness higher than those Corus had put forward for its previous contract bid. This represented a new product...
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Page 4: Product testing

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Steelmaking is a large-scale manufacturing process. Manufacturing involves taking all of the raw materials involved in making steel and turning them into tangible outputs. Producing large quantities reduces the cost of each piece. This is known as 'economies of scale'. In order to test the new steel formula properly during development, Corus needed to find a way of making small batches for...
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Page 5: Outcomes

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Corus developed the new steel product to help it win the Royal Navy contract. As a result, it benefited in many ways as a side effect of the changes: By using its existing CI procedures to guide its research and development and testing, Corus developed the new specification of steel required at a competitive price. Investment in new technologies and equipment, used alongside lean production...
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Page 6: Conclusion

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In a competitive industry, businesses need to use all the resources they have, including skills and knowledge. Continuous improvement at Corus provides a process in which everybody can play a part in moving the business forward. Working in teams enables employees to share their ideas and expertise. Using the expertise of staff helps the business to develop. It also empowers individuals to...
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Related: Tata Steel
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