Continuous Improvement Lean Transformation

This is the first time that the “Continuous Improvement” (Lean Transformation) philosophy has been used to refer to a steel site of this size and importance in Italy and this makes Acciai Speciali Terni a case history to be observed internationally. Continuous improvement is a life approach linked to the desire to grow and to never take anything for granted. A state of mind in which curiosity feeds our personal and professional growth and based on which we tend to identify what can be improved and to consolidate the success achieved over time. In the industrial production sector, continuous improvement is the set of actions carried out for the benefit of the company and of its customers, starting with the improvement of the manufacturing sector and the reorganisation of work in the name of a continuous and timely change on the ground. It is not a project as it does not have a beginning and an end, but it’s a path which allows us to overcome the paradigms that generate constraints and wastes within the processes.  In the world of Industry 4.0 more than ever having a full mastery of the processes allows us to avoid waste digitisation and to seize the best opportunities offered both by technologies and by the human factor, the true added value of this path. For AST, all of this translates into offering a series of tools, advice and information to improve the quality of our working life.


The goal is to acquire the ability to quickly reach the customer with a quality product whilst providing all necessary assistance. In an ever decreasing low-demand and margin market, it is in the best interests of the company to move from a brokered distribution (distributors, wholesalers) to a large portion of supply aimed at the end-user (end customer). And the most important requirement for end users is reliability (Just in Time supplies), i.e. their wish to receive raw materials and components on the agreed date, at the agreed amounts and in accordance with the level of quality required. Developing a strong focus towards end customers represents a profound change in corporate culture. To make this possible, a “makeover” is needed, changing a company’s mind-set towards continuous improvement, starting with people involvement.


Back to basics represents a change in terms of corporate culture which wishes to focus on the value of humility and simplicity and on the maximum involvement of all. It is no coincidence that its main tools are pencil, paper and colours. The method consists in measuring, sharing and improving TOGETHER, starting from the concept that every result achieved is a beginning and forms the basis for achieving another one.


The key point of a lean transformation is the person, his/her attitude, his/her preparation and his/her training. To date, AST has trained 1,700 employees with classroom and field activities and a training plan has been defined throughout 2017 which aims to reach all employees.


Back to basics started in June 2016 and involved the whole of AST: from the central plant in Terni to the external production units of the Tubificio Division and the Finishing Centre, up to Terninox, its subsidiary in Milan. To date, all production lines are organised and managed according to visual management standards that, through the use of simple tools, allow full control of production efficacy and efficiency with the maximum involvement of all operators in accordance with the logics and tools of continuous improvement. Data comparison, results verification and structured resolution tools are our fellow travellers along this journey.