Progress in product innovation and production processes as seen by innovation processes leader Viliam Gašpar
Since launching the initiative aimed at innovating our products and production processes, one year has passed already. Four teams focusing on innovation in the areas of automotive industry, packaging material, sheets for electrical industry and color coating have worked hard on dozens of projects that have resulted in real benefits. More details were presented by General Manager Customer Technical Service USSE Viliam Gašpar, the leader of the innovative processes, in an interview for Oceľ východu.
• The initiative will be moving into the second year of its existence soon. How do you assess the present progress?
In my view, 2015 was extremely successful. Benefits of the initiative surged to almost nine million US dollars, and our goal was to attain just a little over five million. Consequently, we can certainly speak about great satisfaction.
• Which teams were most profitable?
All teams have done an excellent job, with each member working diligently and responsibly. The packaging material team was especially successful, achieving the greatest benefits last year.
• Specifically then, where have we achieved the most significant progress?
I am pleased that we were able to expand the product portfolio with new grades and dimensions. For example, we supply wider coils for Dacia, which we previously did not manufacture. Thanks to this fact we have gained a competitive advantage, and in this case we have replaced the rival supplier´s material with ours. This represents a huge benefit to our company . We were also successful in another area, namely CAPEX investments. Thanks to the initiative of the innovation teams communicating with management, we managed to push through the project of a camera inspection system for tinplate that will be helpful for automated monitoring of the material surface quality. Such attempts failed several times in the past, so I am extremely pleased that we have finally succeeded. The inspection system will be installed on both lines within this year. An example of another successful project was transition to a chrome-free system at the color-coated sheet operation.
• During the previous interview you said that any employee can be involved in the innovation process. Is this appeal still current?
Of course, every one of us appreciates any colleague's initiative. All ideas that are helpful with regard to innovation are welcome.
• What will be the biggest challenge for the innovation teams this year?
I am confident that the transition to chromium-free passivation of tinplate will be the case. This method is compulsory based on new legislation that will come into force in 2017 throughout the European Union. This is quite a difficult challenge, however we have to grapple with the issue. This year we will continue with the ideas and projects development and implementation that we launched last year. We are aware that this will be a challenging year, but it is also an opportunity to show our abilities. To end with, I would like to thank all the members of the individual teams. They have my admiration, because they have implemented ideas from which our company has immense benefits in this uneasy time and despite difficult conditions. I have no doubt that we will continue with last year's achievements also this year.