Case Study: Vargön Alloys cut risks with Omnia-based issue management system

One of Europe’s largest manufacturers of ferrochrome, Vargön Alloys, sets consistently high standards and works tirelessly to elevate production quality and reduce risks. Using an Omnia-based issue and quality management system, the company is able to identify and remedy risks and deviations in a much more efficient, secure and structured way than previously.

– Our new issue and quality management system allows us to identify risks and determine the right course of action before they become hazardous to our employees or affect our production quality. The solution also helps us improve our production efficiency, as well as pinpointing flaws or bottlenecks in our processes and other issues which could affect our production in a negative way, says Fredrik Janson, CTO and Procurement Manager at Vargön Alloys.

Observe, report and act before anyone is hurt

With 200 employees, Vargön Alloys AB is Sweden’s sole producer of ferrochrome, an alloy that gives steel its hardness and corrosion resistance. The company is situated by the Göta Älv in the Vänersborg area and is part of the Yildirim Group of Companies, one of Europe's biggest producers of ferrochrome.

The production process is subject to many risks. Workers can burn or cut themselves or be hurt by falling over or lifting heavy weights. There are also risks associated with fire, environmental issues and damage to machines and tools. To minimize these risks, and preferably eliminate them before anything happens, Vargön Alloys have implemented an Omnia-based issue and quality management system. The solution enables the organization to report, analyze and remedy risks in a structured and efficient manner.

– Anyone can file a report about an incident, a potential risk or process deviation. The system’s intuitive and well-structured interface makes it very easy to use. Straightforward and self-explanatory boxes and fields instruct the user how to register data correctly. Once all the basics are registered, the issue is automatically referred to the manager in charge, who will investigate the matter further and decide on necessary action, Fredrik explains.

Depending on its classification, the reported issue is directed to either a process or a staff manager. If it’s a health or injury risk, the staff manager responsible for the specified work area will be selected automatically. He or she will be notified via e-mail and Omnia’s direct messaging service. If no course of action has been taken after six days, the manager will be sent a reminder.

– We have routines in place ensuring that our employees report an incident or a situation they perceive as being risky. Nothing is left to chance. When filing an issue report, the employee has to describe what has or could have happened, what caused it and how it was handled, or register the report purely as a warning of a potential risk. When the responsible manager receives the report, he or she undertakes a thorough investigation and proposes the correct measures to remedy the problem. This way we hope to eliminate all potential dangers, Fredrik explains.

More efficient and better structured change management

Vargön Alloys previously had numerous Sharepoint-based systems for deviation and quality management, all developed in house. There was one system for handling deviations, another for safety inspections, another for action plans and yet two more for internal and external audits. When Vargön Alloys was certified in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards, the in-house systems were instantly outdated. Fredrik clarifies:

– We had to consolidate all our processes in one single system, enabling us to monitor incidents and deviations and instantly see who is responsible for what in a unified and efficient manner. None of the standard-issue and quality management systems we explored could deliver what we needed. So we asked Precio Fishbone, who had developed our previous Sharepoint based intranet, to come up with some ideas.

The solution Precio Fishbone presented and subsequently implemented is an adapted issue management system, built on Omnia and Sharepoint. It is also fully integrated with an Omnia-based intranet and Omnia’s quality and document management systems, Omnia QMS and Omnia DM, plus a number of Sharepoint lists.

– The processes are automatically linked between the issue, quality and document management systems. Among the many advantages of the new solution, issue owners are automatically matched in QMS and, since the process documents are linked to their respective issues, change management is made that much easier. It also simplifies the work of keeping standards and documents up-to-date, says Patrik Turebo, Project Manager at Precio Fishbone.

Improved internal communications

Fredrik Janson concludes by pointing out that the company’s internal communications have also improved and that they are now in the process of integrating the HR system Agda and creating an archive system to boost performance.
– Integrating Agda will make it easier for us to find and link an employee to an issue. The new solution has also improved internal communications through a more attractive and easily managed intranet.