Manufacturing companies in the primary metal industry smelt and/or refine ferrous and nonferrous metals from various ores by using electro-metallurgical and metallurgical techniques. They may also manufacture metal alloys and super-alloys by introducing other chemical elements to pure metals.
The manufacturing processes within this industry are varied and complicated. To keep these processes streamlined and efficient, it’s important to utilize a document management system throughout your company. In this article, we’ll explore why document management is essential for your company’s effectiveness and organization.
The first step in this process usually involves smelting. To smelt means to extract metal from its ore by a process involving heating and melting. This includes the production of silver, iron, copper, and other base metals from their ores. The smelting process uses heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the ore and drive off other elements leaving the desired metal base behind.
The process of smelting varies depending on the type of base metal being extracted. It often includes roasting (driving out unwanted carbon or sulfur) and reduction (pulling out oxygen atoms from the raw material).
The smelting process requires many different sets of procedures detailing each step, all the way up to waste management. A document management system is helpful for ensuring that each of these unique and detail-centric workflows is properly followed.
The refining process removes impurities and unwanted elements from metals. Refining doesn’t change the chemical makeup of the material, but the final metal is purer than the original material. Refining processes often involve the use of pyro-metallurgical and hydro-metallurgical techniques.
Refining metal using water or fire creates many potential hazards that need to be addressed in order to keep your employees safe. Carefully outlining the refining workflows through your document management software can help you reduce occupational hazards and increase efficiency at the same time.
In metalworking, rolling is a forming process that is used to reduce the thickness of the material and/or make the thickness uniform. The concept is similar to that of rolling dough. However, depending on the metal, rolling can be performed below or above the metal’s recrystallization temperature and is referred to as cold or hot rolling accordingly.
Rolling mills are machines that automate this process and help ensure uniformity of the end product. Depending on the type of mill uses, employees may still need to stop and reverse the rolls between each pass unless a 3-high mill is used.
The drawing process uses tensile forces to stretch metal by pulling it into the desired shape and thickness. The drawing process is used on sheet metal as well as wires, bars, and tubes. The drawing process usually takes place at room temperature, although heat is sometimes used to reduce the force that’s required in the process.
Another process used often in the metal manufacturing industry is extrusion. Extrusion is used to create objects with a fixed cross-sectional profile. Instead of having a flat, symmetrical shape, a metal may have hollow cavities or special connectors.
The extrusion process may use heat. During the extrusion the material is placed inside of a die. The concept is similar to using cookie cutters to form cookie dough.
Throughout the various steps of the manufacturing processes, quality control is required in order to ensure that the final product meets all standard requirements. Quality control shouldn’t rest solely upon the individuals in the company. Instead, it should be regulated by outlining the proper processes and what is expected after each step.
If there is a breakdown in quality along the way, employees need to understand how to deal with and document it appropriately. Using a document management system can add traceability to the processes and improve the overall quality of the final product.
Industry Challenges and Solutions
The primary metal manufacturing industry has to meet the same challenges as many other industries, including efficient project management, regulatory compliance, secure document access, and accurate collaboration. The good news is that eFileCabinet’s document management system can automate otherwise tedious and wasteful processes in order to improve quality, ensure compliance, and increase document security.
The document flow inside your company may include drawings and designs, policies, regulatory paperwork, health and safety requirements, and other communications. It’s important to keep all of these accessible for authorized personnel around the clock.
In the metal manufacturing industry it’s also important to collaborate with contractors, subcontractors, and designers. Therefore, you need to have the ability to safely share documents with external contractors and designers to increase the efficiency of your manufacturing operations.
Here are a few reasons to incorporate efficient document management software (DMS) within your company:
- Sharing and updating designs
- Managing previous versions of documents
- Easy searching for files
- Managing workflows
- Availability of audit trails
Document management is more than a just a convenience for the primary metal manufacturing industry. Learn more about what eFileCabinet can do for your manufacturing processes—simply fill out the form on this page to start your 15-minute demo.