Product development through continuous improvement
A Corus case study

Page 4: Product testing

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 testing. Corus also needed to evaluate how, if it won the bid, it would produce the steel on a large scale.  Product testing is an important part of development. The small batches enabled Corus to create prototypes to test and discover how well each met the required specification.

It needed to examine which elements of the steel manufacturing process affected the strength and toughness of the plate. It was important to test various factors to see what impact changes in each would make to the finished product:

  • the steel chemistry - what ingredients made the steel 'recipe' better?
  • the reheating conditions - how did the temperature affect the steel?
  • the rolling schedule - did different mill processes have an effect?
  • the cooling speed - did the speed of cooling affect the product?
  • the additional heat treatment processes - would additional heating change its qualities?

The product testing stage enabled Corus to make sure the final product met the required brief from the design team. It used computer modelling software to identify the impact of changes in each factor. By understanding the best combination, Corus came up with the winning formula.

 

Corus | Product development through continuous improvement

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