Rail being rolled in our mill
09 Jul 2018

On track with rail

Beth Lochran Marketing and Sales Graduate – Rail

Over the next 6 months I’ll be sharing with you what it’s like to be a graduate within our business unit Rail through a bi-monthly blog, where you’ll be able to follow me during my rotation within the Commercial team.

Before I joined the Rail team, I was initially nervous about moving to not only a new business unit, but a new location where I didn’t know anyone – a feeling I’m sure many of you are familiar with.

Another feeling I’m sure many of you know is the relief when you find out there was no need to worry. The whole team have been friendly, supportive and willing to help with any questions I’ve had since day 1.

Once I started in rail, I was given the opportunity to shadow a variety of shift managers and shift teams to gain a better understanding of Scunthorpe Rail and Section Mill (SRSM) for two weeks throughout its different areas and processes (Areas 1, 2 and 3).

I enjoyed this experience as when I’d previously visited different mills around our sites I only got to see them from our ‘VIP walkways.’

I don’t have a technical background and I think that’s part of what made me enjoy my time shadowing members of SRSM even more. I think people can become immune to what they see every day and forget how amazing the rail manufacturing process is.

Putting on PPE and being able to go into the mill to witness the process of rail being manufactured from a bloom up to a 120 metre length of rail at over 1,000 degrees was amazing as I was able to see the whole process all the way to dispatch.

While visiting all 3 areas, I was able to increase my knowledge of the rail process from start (Area 1) to finish (Area 3). I was able to gain an understanding of how the mill works a lot better from seeing processes myself as well as being able to ask questions no matter how obvious the answer may seem.

Throughout this time, I was able to visit a number of places such as P7 in Area 1. This is where computerised control monitors are used to control the rail finish rolling stands. Having red hot rail being rolled in 7 rolling stands at once is a complicated business! I also gained an understanding of the in-depth quality control processes including rail templates, samples and cameras in both Areas 2 and 3 that oversee the rail finishing processes - due to the importance of SRSM being safety critical.

Using process mapping, a technique I learnt from my continuous improvement training, I’ve been able to get involved with recording process changes for a number of tasks within the Rail team, mainly looking at soft savings such as time. This technique has helped me to not only understand how a process works but also how and why it’s evolved.

Being able to build relationships and interact with different people across British Steel, as well as external stakeholders, is one of my favourite parts of working in a commercial environment. Every day is different.

I’ve been getting involved with commercial bids, pulling together information for tenders and the associated essential paperwork they demand. This has been rewarding, particularly knowing that these tenders hopefully could have a positive effect on the rail business recruiting orders for new and old customers alike. It has been great to visit customers from my very first week, learning to understand the people behind the orders and their wants and needs.

Now that my first month in rail is over, I feel I’m on track for a rewarding placement and I’m looking forward to the up-coming months!


Any views expressed in this blog are views of the individuals concerned and do not necessarily reflect the views of British Steel.

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