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In a steelworks campus, FM is the municipal corporation

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Ralph Sunil, Sr Vice President – Administration, JSW Steel – Vijayanagar Works

Imagine a self-contained city where all residents are united for a common purpose – manufacturing steel. This city has its own factories, offices, residential areas, roads, schools, colleges, hospitals, recreation centres and anything else that an individual needs. Iron ore comes in, steel goes out, and there is a permanent population of thousands – but no urban local body to look after it.

The management of such an industrial  ‘city’ is the responsibility of Ralph Sunil, Sr Vice President – Administration, JSW Steel – Vijayanagar Works. In this article, he lets us into many aspects of FM’s multipronged role in steel campus management…and these barely scratch the surface of his numerous responsibilities.

Any large steel manufacturing facility can generally be termed as a large campus facility. It usually has the following elements, each of which has different facility management needs:

  • The factory or the steel plant itself
  • Office spaces
  • The residential township or living quarters for the employees and workers (not all steel plants have this)
  • Associated facilities like schools, hospitals etc.
Facility areas

Steel plant

A steel plant is supposed to be highly environment compliant, safety compliant and housekeeping compliant. The shop floor is where the main industrial activity takes place, with grease, oil, dust, fire, metal and large amounts of equipment interacting in a high-roofed space. This is where complex manufacturing operations happen, and where an entire gamut of FM operations needs to be performed.

Cafeterias

This area is of tremendous importance. The Factories Act governs how meals should be catered and how the canteen should be maintained. Plant workers, who put in hours of hard work, need to be served food of a particular standard that satisfies their tastes.

Beyond food, the cafeteria is also a space where workers can have a seat, take a break and involve themselves in leisure activities like watching television. This small break from work can help them improve their productivity in the second half of the workday.

Office spaces

While one may expect the office areas of a steel production facility to be quite basic, facility managers can take it to the next level by ensuring that all areas of the office – conference rooms and demonstration rooms to washrooms and pantry areas – are maintained at a consistently high level.

Green campus

FM is responsible for looking after the green cover of the entire campus. A certain percentage of the total area of the steelworks is mandated to be a green belt. Apart from making the campus aesthetically pleasant, landscaping and horticulture als helps in controlling and absorbing dust and noise pollution generated from steel production.

Other areas

Visitor management, security, safety training centers, large halls like auditoriums, demonstration centres and experience centers for customers also need to be maintained in optimum condition.

FM functions

Safety

In a steel production facility, safety is critical. Every single part of the factory area is covered and has to be compliant with the no-harm policy. The FM team plays an integral role in making sure that every square inch of the steelworks campus is safety compliant.

Waste management

While handling the plant production waste is not in the purview of facility management, all other streams of waste generated from the campus need to be managed well and converted into usable materials on-site. This includes e-waste, canteen waste and all other non-industrial streams.

Wastewater management

FM plays a central role in recycling wastewater to maintain the status of a steelworks campus as a zero water discharge facility. Wastewater from the industrial process is collected in a central pond or tank, and recycled for use in horticulture and washrooms (for flushing).

Waste to wealth

Slag, which is the main process waste of steelmaking, is reused for various purposes like making roads, pavements, tiles and paver blocks. In short, no waste is allowed to leave the campus in the form of waste.

Campus-wide cleaning

Dust control

Unless the plant is attended to on an hourly basis, there is bound to be accumulation or piling up of dirt and dust. This can impair the productivity of the plant.

Dust which settles on the shop floor needs to be collected and reused in the manufacturing process; we function on a zero-waste model. All byproducts of the production process, including waste gases, are stored and used for other processes.

Green chemicals

Eco-friendly chemicals should be used as much as possible, especially in areas frequented by people. Some (but not all) green chemicals can be as effective or more effective than conventional cleaning chemicals. Although they may be more expensive than the latter, smaller volumes are needed for efficacious cleaning; overall, green chemicals are cost-effective. I expect to see green chemicals for industrial facilities at par with conventional cleaning chemicals, within this decade itself.

Cleaning equipment

Very fine materials like iron ore particles or coal dust to large objects like dolomite need to be cleaned and cleared; hence, a good amount of equipment and machinery is required to complete the cleaning process. These include road sweeping machines, ride on machines, heavy suction sweepers, suction vacuums and other heavy-duty equipment.

Grease is commonly used in the manufacturing process. Machines like hot water jet blowers and steam blowers are available for clearing grease, but machines which need less water for the same results – such as a foam-based machine – could be of more help.

For cleaning at heights, presently, cherry pickers or man-lifters are being used. We can look at more effective methods like robotic machines that require little or no manual intervention.

Drones can be deployed wherever possible to survey cleaning requirements of places which are not accessible, and at a later stage, to spray the cleaning chemical.

Specific applications

Each time a factory worker walks into a washroom, he brings in a tremendous amount of dust. Imagine a hundred workers using a washroom; how much dust will accumulate? Anti-dust chemical coatings based on nanotechnology that prevent dust accumulation, or allow it to be cleaned more easily, are most welcome.

Chemicals for removing hard dirt, grease and oil already exist, but it would help to have chemicals that are developed specifically for the steel industry. Chemicals that can be used as a spray before final product dispatch would also be of great utility.

Digitalisation

Considering the size of the campus, digital FM software is the biggest tool that any steel FM head would like to have. It can help improve productivity, monitoring, communication and feedback, and help with managing checklists, manpower and MIS data.

Iron ore may end up being spilled during transport and handling; scrap metal from an industrial process may accumate. By collecting and reusing these fragments, input material can be reduced. FM can thus directly contribute to the profits of the steel manufacturer.

How is FM performance monitored in a steel plant?

Under the SLA model, we have specified parameters that govern how a particular area of a facility needs to be maintained according to certain standards. For example, under washroom maintenance, there are 10+ parameters embedded in the SLA, governing water spillage, odour control, quality of cleaning equipment etc. These parameters are audited periodically on a daily and weekly basis to measure the FM performance.

We also measure qualitative output. Is the vendor dependable for taking up jobs at short notice? Can their employees multitask? Are their FM services integrated? These are some of the questions we look to answer.

In a large campus like ours, there are special projects that need to be undertaken throughout the year. For example, one unit may go in for shutdown for maintenance purposes. This is a major activity for which special cleaning operations need to be undertaken. Time is a constraint; time taken for delivering results is also part of the FM SLA.

In the future, I would like to go in for a 360 degree evaluation of the service provider’s performance, with the help of a feedback mechanism that can take the inputs of all stakeholders like employees, the FM team, the management and the vendor as well.

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