When heating and hot water producer Ariston Thermo and ArcelorMittal were thinking about a new enamelling steel for the inner of Ariston Thermo’s hot water boilers, they could have hardly imagined the product would be on shop shelves in just over a year. Yet thanks to a close co-engineering partnership with ArcelorMittal, Ariston Thermo was able to quickly adapt its production methods to utilise the new steel – HC300EK. In the process they provided ArcelorMittal with valuable feedback on industrialising a brand new product.
Industrial development of HC300EK started in early 2012. Designed for applications which require one-sided enamelling, HC300EK was chosen by Ariston Thermo to form the inner shell of their boilers where the hot water is actually heated. Enamelling protects the steel from corrosion while resisting the high temperatures inside the boiler.
Boiler inners undergo a visual check before the outer casing is added
“From the outset, the project represented a win-win scenario for both Ariston Thermo and ArcelorMittal,” explains Frank Racanelli, Quality Manager at the company’s Malonne factory in Belgium where the boilers are produced. “Any experience Ariston Thermo could provide guided industrial development of the new steel and we benefited from the expertise of ArcelorMittal in that process.”
Ariston Thermo previously utilised a hot rolled commodity steel grade in this application. By substituting it with HC300EK, the manufacturer was able to reduce the thickness of the inside wall of the boiler by 10%. At the same time, strength and production reliability were increased without compromising safety. As it utilises less steel every boiler is lighter, making installation easier. Ariston Thermo was also able to switch from a wet to a powder enamelling process to improve product quality.
Compared to hot rolled steel, the HC300EK enamelling steel has a much broader dimension range as cold rolled steel can be thinner and wider. This allowed Ariston Thermo to dramatically reduce its stock levels and simplify its supply chain.
However, one of the biggest advantages for Ariston Thermo was ArcelorMittal’s assistance during the trials of HC300EK in an industrial setting. “Our timetable for implementing the new steel was quite short,” says Frank Racanelli. “ArcelorMittal personnel were exemplary in their reactivity when problems arose. The synergies between Ariston Thermo and ArcelorMittal have been fundamental to the success of the project.”
Frank Racanelli believes that the co-engineering approach used in this project is an example for the future: “In the current economic environment, sharing resources and knowledge is highly desirable.” His response is echoed by Paolo Rossini, Global Raw Materials Purchaser for Ariston Thermo: “We have a more collaborative approach now – we are partners. I will certainly recommend this type of cooperation in the future.”
“Working on interesting new steel solutions like these, brings us closer to our customers,” notes Nicolas Dujardin, ArcelorMittal’s Account Manager for Ariston Thermo in Belgium. “That’s what partnership is all about: creating added value for both customer and supplier.”
Finished hot water boilers ready for shipping
As one of the world’s leading producers of heating and hot water products, Ariston Thermo Group employs almost 6,700 people and distributes its products in over 150 countries. Major markets include Asia, and Western and Eastern Europe.
Ariston Thermo prides itself on providing people with the maximum degree of comfort using the minimum amount of energy. To help achieve this goal, Ariston Thermo is constantly researching and developing new products at its 15 competency centres around the globe.
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Read other interesting stories in the November 2013 issue of theUpdate client magazine
Copyright pictures: Ariston Thermo Group