Aperam ensures safe maintenance with Rimses

Stainless steel producer Aperam operates in a highly competitive market, especially in Europe. That is why the company wants to optimize its costs and improve its efficiency by standardizing and harmonizing as many processes as possible in all its sites.

Aperam relies on Rimses to manage the maintenance operations in the plant in Genk. Other Aperam sites
in Europe will follow this example soon.

“We have been working with Rimses since 1996,” says Ward Neven, Steelplant/Production Services Manager at Aperam. “Initially, we used
Rimses very specifically for the warehouse management, but in 2006 the Group decided to migrate the accounting and warehouse management to SAP. In Genk, we wanted to continue working with Rimses and since then we have also used it to manage the work orders for our maintenance planning. We used to do that manually in Excel and Access, which was a time consuming task.”

“A while ago, when we analyzed the different packages for the maintenance planning, we were wondering whether to implement the software in our European sites”, said Michel Berret, CIO at Aperam. “But Genk was able to convince us to work with Rimses. It is a very user-friendly package that our employees will soon get used to. And even more important: the whole security aspect for the maintenance staff is integrated in it. In addition, Rimses’ implementation can be done much faster compared to other applications, which saves money and time. All European sites will probably have migrated to Rimses by 2016.”

Safety first

Safety is a top priority for Aperam, particularly when it comes to the maintenance of the installations. That is why Aperam asked Realdolmen to equip Rimses with specific features to tackle these issues. Aperam is part of RealDolmen’s Advisory Board, an
enthusiastic group of customers that can help to develop the software based on their specific needs. “We believe this is a fantastic initiative: all Rimses aspects are discussed and we can even suggest ideas to improve the package depending on what our business needs. And it is not just idle words because we notice that our needs and questions are heard. The package already includes many features and we are confident that the software will evolve with us in the future,” says Ward Neven.

Whenever maintenance companies come to work on installations at Aperam, safety is the top priority. All information is collected in a working paper in which, in addition to the technical aspects and requirements, all safety arrangements are included. It goes from the requirement of wearing safety and protective clothing to information about the energy supply that first needs to be cut before starting with the maintenance. It involves a whole series of measures compiled in one form.

From three applications to a single clear dashboard

Ward Neven: “We used to work with three different software applications to control all of this. That was a time consuming process and we had to enter the same data manually several times. That is why it was really important to us to combine everything into a single package: Rimses. We also control the consignments of machines and installations with this.”

During a consignment, Aperam works according to the LOTOTO principle, which stands for lock out, tag out and try out. Before starting the maintenance, all remaining energy, eg the electric power, needs to be cut off. To prevent somebody to switch it on again, a lock is used (lock out). When this is done, the technician must indicate this using a label (tag out). He then has to test whether a particular movement, in this case initiated by the electric power supply, may or may not be carried out (try out). This series of steps is now fully visualized in Rimses, whereas previously all of this happened on paper and was less clear. Up to 500 licenses are created on average each month. The number can reach up to 30 licences for maintenance work on a large production line.

“It is a very important advantage for us that the working papers and consignments are now also integrated in the application with which we follow the work orders”, says Ward Neven. “Now, we can see at a glance whether a consignment has taken place via a clear dashboard with green and red colours.”

Future projects

RealDolmen integrated the additional safety modules in Rimses for Aperam and at the stainless steel processor’s request will provide a purchase portal which is connected to the e-catalogue.

There will also be a mobile version of Rimses “We are really looking forward to it,” says Ward Neven. “It is obvious that we will win even more time with this. Measuring the counters, which happens for some counters on a daily basis and for some others on a weekly basis, still happens on paper currently. Everything is then manually entered in the system. The employee will be able to do that on the spot and directly using the mobile version of Rimses. It saves time and allows us to work more accurately, since we cannot make any errors anymore when retyping.”

Prepare the switch properly

Rimses’ introduction will definitely change the way of working. It requires good preparation and assistance in terms of change management. “In such situations, it is very important to have a credible project leader and partner who can convince people and involve them in the project. The communication and relationship with RealDolmen are excellent. This can be attributed to the fact, among others, that agility is an important value we have in common. RealDolmen is a proactive company that responds quickly to our questions and adjusts its software according to our needs. That is their strength and in these kinds of projects it is also necessary”, concludes Michel Berret.