The importance of education in the tube/pipe/roll form industries (Part 2 of 2)

Read part one of our series to learn more about the importance of establishing SOPs and why seminars have value in the tube and pipe and roll form industries. education3

There are many "seminars" offered to the tube and pipe and roll form industries. To maximize your benefit from these seminars, it is important to first determine your exact needs.
Among the most common reasons to consider a professional training seminar are:

  • Consistently poor product quality.
  • Problems with set up causing extremely long changeover times.
  • Lack of qualified or experienced personnel.
  • Running unfamiliar metals with extreme characteristics.

Once your needs have been identified, seminars which best address the general need, can be paired down to which one conforms best to your particular situation. A high degree of customization will result in a far more effective seminar. However, as each mill operation has similar requirements, there are also the basics which all seminars should provide. At a very minimum, every seminar should include the following curriculum and "hands-on" interactive procedural training.

Tools and Nomenclature

Your seminar instructors must be able to communicate with your personnel. It is extremely important that the terminology be consistent. Knowing tube and pipe and roll form language will help all individuals communicate clearly and understand the material being presented.

The instructors need to "talk the talk", and "walk the walk" of these industries. They need to outline the function of each stand, roll and piece of ancillary equipment. The requirement for special tools-and why they need these tools should be clearly defined.

This section of the seminar should provide the personnel with "meat and potatoes" information that can be directly understood and applied to each person's individual situation or position on the mill line. Knowledge of each area will help instill a "common sense" approach to problem solving.

Integrity and Alignment

An in-depth understanding of the integrity and alignment of the mill's components instills confidence in operator and product alike. Constant awareness of machine and material behavior spots problems before it gets out of hand. Even perfectly designed tooling will perform poorly on a mill which has mechanical or alignment issues. The seminar should outline how the areas which are not in check will affect the tooling wear and product quality. Corrective measures should be explained and demonstrated.

Setup Procedures

Product quality and consistency is the key to your profits. Operators should be thoroughly trained in the proper and standardized set up procedures to ensure repeatable set ups, a smoother mill operation, longer tooling life and a high quality end product.

Each roll has a specific function. Each roll adds to the forming process of the strip in a progressive form and is designed to work in direct conjunction with each other. When poor set up prohibits a specific roll from performing its proper function, the next roll has to make up the difference which puts greater and unnecessary stress/loads on the strip, tooling and the mill components. Your seminar should include a full explanation of the function of each roll/pass and how it is designed to work and how to measure the same to ensure even formation throughout the mill.

Sample Roll-Kraft Setup Chart

Tooling Design and Analysis

As there is no one correct tooling design for every mill, it becomes extremely important that a general understanding of tooling design be included in your seminar. Certain product shapes, mill configurations and material properties demand certain designs to properly form and make a successful end product. Your seminar should include the "where and when" to use certain tooling designs to properly match your quality requirements.

Many roll manufacturers are making extensive use of CAD/CAM systems. A discussion on using customized software and its advantages over "off-the-shelf" programs should also be included in the seminar. Accurate roll design and roll analysis for your mill is best extracted from an extensive custom database of tooling history specific to each mill, type of material or mill configuration.

Copra Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is another key software program that provides tremendous value in the tube and pipe and roll form industry. Your seminar should explain what FEA does, how it calculates reaction forces, where and when to use this tool and a summary of its benefits.

Selecting a Seminar Provider

In choosing your seminar provider, seek out those professional seminar services which offer topics with strong emphasis on individual mill problem solving areas to ensure active participation by all involved. Be sure that an extensive session addressing the problems of each and every individual is included. A one-on-one discussion will help the seminar instructors focus on the specific issues concerning your mill lines. Encourage your personnel to talk about their experiences and problems during the seminar presentation.

When selecting a seminar provider, look for experience and results. Ask for testimonials from previous programs conducted by the firm and instructors you are looking to choose. Results from previous users speak the loudest.

How to Execute a Successful Education Program

Any successful education program starts with a commitment to quality, both in product and personnel. Begin with yourself and become the model of perfection. During and after the seminar, a constant vigil must be kept to maintain and improve performance. Your objective should be to enhance the overall performance of all personnel operating your mills. Everyone must work together as a team. When departments learn how they can depend on each other in the industry, they can better appreciate each other's contributions and needs.

Include all personnel in your seminar program, mill operators, support personnel, management, maintenance, tool room personnel, sales, supervisors and engineering. Allot the required time for the classroom portion of the program, as well as the hands on training sessions/one-on-one trouble shooting out on the plant floor. Provide a proper location for the classroom portion of the seminar. If a training room is not available for the program, consider having it off-site at a location that can house the audience so that the learning environment can be comfortable and quiet for the program.

With an effective seminar, owners can expect immediate improvements. Case in point is a U.S. tube mill owner, which incidentally, had an aversion to seminars based on a previous bad experience with an unqualified seminar program. This owner eventually purchased a seminar service from a qualified source, and enjoyed a tremendous immediate benefit. After the seminar, with the very next shift, this manufacturer saw drastic reductions in the amount of scrap by simply employing the proper set up procedures learned in the seminar. Further advantages were gained in the ability to run straight tube and keep the weld consistently at 12 o'clock position. Through these efforts and others such as proper mill integrity and alignment, the mill has gained a decisive advantage in productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction with not only the product, but, as importantly, better service. Needless to say, the reduced scrap tonnage alone more that off-set the expense of the seminar program.


The final objective of your education program should be to establish standards for all to follow that do not deviate from one shift to another or from one individual to another. Make it the same way, the "right" way each and every time! Establishing SOPs will build moral, improve product quality, and produce greater profits.

Written by:
Robert A. Sladky
Vice President Tube Mill Engineering


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