The First Industrial Visit

I was up at 6:30 a.m., like almost everyone else. It was our first visit to our allocated Industry, as part of the IV course that is spread over the 1st year. Everyone collected near Mess-1 by 7:30 a.m. – the mess had decided to open early, and it felt just like a picnic! Dozens of people ambling around, making sure that their entire group has managed to reach Sanchi Point to board the buses, trying to find out which of the many buses will head to their destination, eating and drinking and generally in a jovial mood. Our group leader who’d nicely instructed us to be dressed in smart casuals- with a full-sleeve shirt and sports shoes- managed to oversleep, waking up only at 7:30 a.m. All the groups headed to Dewas were to leave first, since Dewas is an almost 2-hour bus ride; the groups heading to Sector-3 of Pithampur were to follow; all the groups heading to Sector-1 in Pithampur and to Indore were to wait around until the buses dropped off the first lot of people and returned. This gave our group leader some additional lead time- he was at the venue, properly dressed up and looking unapologetic, by 7:45 a.m. He even managed to get some breakfast before we left campus at around 8 a.m. There were 5 groups on our bus, heading to 3 different industries. Now, we found the first one rather easily, since it was right on the highway and two groups headed off. We then began a wild-goose chase for the other two industries and managed to successfully drop off another group before deciding to use Google Maps and find our destination. Our group leader, armed with new information courtesy Google Maps, directed us to Jaydeep Ispat & Alloys by 9:30 a.m.
Large red signage that read ‘Moyra Sariya’ brought us to a halt. We got ourselves into their site office and sat around drinking coffee until the plant head, our guide, joined us by 10:15 a.m. We were given a short presentation about the industry and the process of making steel rods from scrap iron/metal. A plant tour was then in order- all 12 of us (2 groups) were taken around the facility by 4-5 senior people from the industry. Our tour began with the scrap yard where large mounds of scrap iron/metal were being moved around by a large, electromagnetic crane and another large tool called a ‘grasper’ that did exactly that- it grasped large chunks of the metal scrap with its 5 clawed arm and moved them into bins. These bins were for segregation of the scrap, according to composition- since the final product needs to have a certain fixed composition of various metals including iron, magnesium, chromium and nickel.
Our next stop was the furnaces- scrap metal was continually fed into large furnaces which I believe had a temperate of about 1600 degrees. The furnace just gobbling up large, different-sized pieces of metal, a bunch of electronic devices that controlled the temperature- current was being used to maintain the temperature- the devices displayed readings of voltage, current and the resulting temperature in real time. We stood there, watching as a furnace was turned on its side, impurities falling out into a designated container; the molten metal itself flowing out, when the furnace was turned over into giant buckets that they called ladles. We then moved over to the cooling area where molten metal flowed down vertically, and was showered with water, bringing the temperature down to about 800 degrees. The metal was then cast into billets. An unending stream of metal flowed, it was cut at pre-designated lengths and sprayed with water as it zoomed across a conveyor belt. Ahead, it was pressed into rods of varying diameters, ranging from 8 to 32mm. Heat emanated from what appeared to be bright, nearly neon orange streaks of light, zipping past us at unimaginable speeds- these streaks of light were in fact red hot metal rods! They then moved into a machine which runs based on German Technology, Thermax- they were fired with high pressure water from all directions- in a matter of seconds, hot red streaks of light seemed to flow in, get drenched, and sleek metal rods flowed out that were then stacked into place- now at less than 400 degrees. These were then loaded onto trucks and sent their way! We even got to see their workshop- where some of the machines are designed and produced, and the quality control lab where tensile strength and composition of random samples are periodically checked!
Still in a state of mesmerized daze, we walked back to their site office, for a Q&A session. All the engineers in our group had a bunch of technical questions about the processes while I listened carefully, trying to take in as much of the new information as I could. At the suggestion of the plant head, we then moved to more ‘management- related’ questions, about operating efficiencies, marketing the product and the organizational structure.

Post-lunch, a detailed organizational structure was explained to us- they’ve recently added an HR department too! It is a family-owned business and wishes to continue to remain so. 6 different projects- two operations-related ones- dealing with the acquisition of scrap, inventory and dispatch schedules, one HR project dealing with designing appraisal systems, a marketing project dealing with increasing their market share and selling more of their product to government projects, an Environmental-related project dealing with disposal and usage of their waste products and a last more technical project that dealt with the actual processes were then shared with us. We are to pick one or more of these projects- which are all related to the problems/improvement of the industry-, work on them over the next 6 months, make some recommendations and hope that they be actually implemented. All the projects sound enticing- the reward of seeing our recommendations in actual practice is sure going to be great.
We then headed back to campus and were back by around 6 p.m. We’re going to be working on projects for the concerned industry over the course of Term II & III.

This article has been written by Revant Sindhu, IPM ’12 student at IIM Indore

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