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Beta Steel Corp.
Located in Portage, Indiana, Beta Steel Corp. is a mid-size steel mini-mill dedicated to the production of high quality hot roll bands and is capable of shipping one million tons of Flat Rolled Products annually. Beta Steel's facility is located in the Port of Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan, strategically located to deliver steel via barge, rail or truck. Customer service is a mainstay of the Beta philosophy.

Business Dilemma:
Manual Scheduling Hinders Slab Inventory Management

Beta Steel's previous hot mill scheduling process was not automated and required many hours to generate a schedule. Inventory levels were excessive and were a source of mill delays. "While manually scheduling our mill, we found that slabs were often misplaced and inventory levels were high. This created delays in our day-to-day operations that could potentially hinder our ability to provide superior customer service," said Chris Barton, Business & Financial Planning Mgr., of Beta Steel Corp. Beta Steel's key challenge was to find a solution that would automate the task of creating schedules thus providing improved slab inventory anagement.

Strategies for Success:
Purchase Software Designed for the Mill Environment

Beta Steel partnered with i2 Technologies through which i2 would provide their i2 TradeMatrix Mill Scheduler. The Mill Scheduler product would automate those scheduling tasks, which created delays in the past. As a component of this partnership, Beta Steel also contracted with UEC IT to enhance the slab reservation application of the UEC IT, Order Fulfillment System (UEC OFS) and integrate UEC OFS to the i2 product. "Our goal in partnering with i2 and UEC IT was to find a software solution that would generate savings in manpower and inventory carrying costs, and improve quality. We were confident these solution providers would provide the optimal solution for Beta Steel Corp. due to their acute knowledge and experience in supply chain software and in the Metals Industry," said George Lukes, Dir. Customer Satisfaction & Mfg. Svcs., of Beta Steel Corp.

The Tools for Success:
Mill Scheduler with added UEC IT Functionality

Additional functionality was added by UEC IT to UEC OFS to better manage slab inventory and be a part of the interface between Mill Scheduler and UEC OFS. The entire solution not only reduced the inconsistencies in slab inventory, but also enabled Beta Steel to create optimized schedules ahead of the mill. Beta Steel now stages materials to reduce delays. Items scheduled for production are prepared in advance and are available so that when the facility is ready, production can begin immediately.

Implementation Issues:
Beta Steel knew the benefits of i2 Trade Matrix Mill Scheduler and its ability to continually improve hot strip mill scheduling. The project team also recognized that the success of the implementation was dependent on how smoothly the system would integrate into UEC OFS. Beta Steel choose UEC IT because of its extensive experience with i2's solutions and its ability to integrate these solutions to UEC OFS thus ensuring a successful implementation.

UEC IT installed their powerful order fulfillment system to provide Beta Steel with a system designed to manage orders and material from inquiry to invoice. This gave Beta Steel confidence in knowing that once integrated, the new Mill Scheduler product would provide UEC OFS with a well-developed schedule based on a strict set of rules, penalties, and priorities, thus enhancing quality while minimizing lab inventory requirements.

The UEC IT team was the first choice for Beta Steel. UEC IT has extensive experience in metals as well as system development and integration. "We knew UEC IT would step-up to the challenge and complete the project successfully on time and within budget," said Chris Barton of Beta Steel Corp.

Improved Inventory Management

Beta Steel Corp. is now in the position to create the best possible schedules for their facility. "Not only will Beta Steel Corp. reduce their slab inventory, but they will also reduce the time to build the optimum schedule for quality and productivity to less than a 1/2 hour," said Mike Redilla, Project Team Leader for UEC IT.

"We are very happy with the hot strip mill schedules produced using i2's Mill Scheduler, which was installed in April, 2000. Without the dedicated teams from UEC IT, i2 Technologies, and a core team at Beta Steel Corp, the project would not have been completed on time or within budget. We are looking forward to realizing even greater benefits in the future," said Chris Barton of Beta Steel Corp.

Today Beta Steel Corp. continues to schedule their production using i2's Mill Scheduler. The OFS integrated solution has allowed Beta to successfully manage inventory levels well below the industry average. In 1998 they were only able to turn their slab inventory three times. In 2005, the slab inventory is projected to turn every three weeks or eighteen turns per year. The OFS integrated solution not only allowed semi-finished inventory turns to increase six times but also improved the finished inventory turns four times; from once per month in 1998 to once per week in 2005.

"UEC IT continues to support the OFS Solution at Beta Steel Corp."