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At Outokumpu, process cleaning is developed systematically

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >At Outokumpu, process cleaning is developed systematically</span>

In the industrial sector, a maintenance shutdown is always a critical operation, one which also tests the competence and attitude of service providers. L&T has earned its place as the long-term process cleaning partner of Outokumpu’s Tornio Works with its professional skills and strategic approach to the development of operations.

Outokumpu’s Tornio Works house a ferrochrome plant, steel smelter, hot-rolling mill and cold-rolling mill – all in the one and the same mill area – which makes it the world’s most integrated production facility of stainless steel. The mill area also includes a port through which the mill’s products are shipped out and raw materials are shipped in.

The works employ a total of approximately 2,150 people. In addition, some 300 employees of contractors and partners work in the mill area on a daily basis. During the maintenance shutdown, the number of external workers doubles. L&T’s employees alone number approximately 100 at the time.


As you may imagine, mastering an operation such as this one demands some serious skill. Good advance planning is important, but even so, you cannot always prepare for every eventuality. When the schedule is extremely unforgiving and there is a lot to do and, moreover, a lot of companies to do it, surprising events are almost sure to crop up. This is when it becomes essential to perceive the parts that are critical in terms of the big picture and to ensure that everything works together.

“Scheduling is a challenge when there are hundreds of subcontractors on site. Shutdowns last anywhere from a day to up to two weeks, and everyone’s schedule must be integrated into the big picture. Many subcontractors also employ temporary workers, which presents management with additional challenges. A shutdown is always a risk factor in the industrial sector,” says Markus Imponen , the chief of the cold-rolling mill’s RAP5 line at the Tornio Works.


Continuity allows for development

Outokumpu’s Tornio Works have cooperated with L&T for a long time. In addition to the process cleaning carried out during the maintenance shutdown, the currently valid five-year contract covers the waste management of the entire mill and winter maintenance at other times as well. The tasks carried out during the shutdown include the high pressure washing of equipment and process cleaning.

“Putting work up for tender is always a big and labour-intensive thing, and you don’t want to do it every year – nor should you,” says Imponen.

“When you work with a longer term in mind, the supplier can also develop its own operations and invest in the appropriate machinery. Foreseeability also allows the supplier to tie up a sufficient amount of workforce in the operations.”

SYSTEMATIC COoperation yields improvements and savings

The mutual commitment to the cooperation is also visible in how systematically the operations are developed. Supervisors continuously collect ideas from the field, and even the wildest ones are jotted down. The proposals are compiled and prepared for presentation in the steering group’s quarterly meeting.


According to Imponen, recycling is the topic which has gathered the most ideas over the years. Legislative developments have also played their part in this trend. As an example of a technical improvement related to maintenance shutdowns that has saved money, Imponen mentions the installation of fixed suction lines to the places to be cleaned. The fixed suction lines reduce the amount of time spent on pulling hoses, in addition to which they improve safety, too.

safety is the outcome of cooperation

The demanding work and busy schedule put an emphasis on the importance of safety thinking. Outokumpu prioritises safety in everything it does, and rules may not be compromised under any circumstances. Advance planning and preparation also play a significant role in ensuring the safety of maintenance work.

“The completion of safety training is a strict prerequisite. ‘Safety first’ is the only way to think and go about things. We have learned this over the years, and L&T has lived through this development and internalised the issue in an exemplary way,” says Imponen.


with professionals, everything works cost-effectively

Cost-effectiveness is mentioned when talking about the benefits of outsourcing. Outokumpu does not have, nor does it need to have, the equipment and know-how needed in process cleaning. A long-term partnership is an effective solution in this respect.

“It’s first and foremost about reliability – being able to carry out what has been agreed on schedule and in a high-quality and safe manner,” says Imponen.

“The risk is best managed by the one who does it for a living.”

Imponen praises the well-functioning cooperation with L&T. When the cooperation has lasted for several years, both expectations and operating methods as well as the tasks of both parties are clear, and there is no need to provide separate instructions on everything. This makes work flow smoothly and flexibly and also allows for the continuous development of operations.


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