Restoring order at the RHI factory at Herøya
“We are currently investing and working hard to establish a stable and sustainable operation,” says RHI Normag’s new Factory Manager Thomas Frömmer (52).
Thomas Frömmer, who also heads up the RHI Group’s Raw Materials Division, took over as new Factory Manager at RHI Normag on 1 September. After barely 40 days in the manager’s chair, he has met to tell us about the projects and plans which are intended to set the factory on the right path.
According to Frömmer, the factory has faced several challenges since the startup in 2012. And towards the end of 2013, a number of improvement programmes were initiated.
Stable and sustainable
“My main focus at the moment is to establish a stable and sustainable operation which complies with the Norwegian requirements and rules,” is the enthusiastic Factory Manager’s comment. “This will bring us out of the stressful situation we currently find ourselves in.”
RHI is presently under the searchlight for environmental emissions and alleged corruption. “The team here is doing excellent work. If anything was done wrong in the past, we need to change that now,” Frömmer insists.
Many projects are under way.
“We are currently investing about NOK 10 million on environmental improvements in the production process, and working to get an energy management system up and running,” Frömmer explains. “We are also negotiating with RHI for investment to help bring about increased production, higher quality and lower energy consumption. And we need to take action to improve several process and transport systems.”
At the same time work is proceeding on ISO certifications in environment, quality, health and safety. “We are drawing up good guidelines for that,” Frömmer reports.
The improvement programme which started in 2013 with a focus on production, quality and costs, together with organisation, has made good progress, with particularly rapid advances in the last three months.
“We have worked extremely hard on this, achieving a more stable production system and good quality levels,” Frömmer says.
On the production side, RHI Normag expects to reach 43,000 t in 2014 and a further 3000 t in 2015.
“Just now we are particularly focused on creating good teamwork and have made a start on this in close dialogue with the trade unions. We have positive cooperation with employees, and I am now noticing a change in atmosphere among them.”
All RHI employees need to be involved. For example, a suggestions system for improvements has been set up, in addition to information meetings and internal information.
“We are working on 53 large and small projects, and putting the emphasis on open communication so everyone can understand what we are doing and why we are doing it,” Frömmer underlines.
Frömmer is keen to ensure that RHI in Porsgrunn achieves better integration within the RHI Group, while still remaining an independent local unit with responsible management.
“RHI in Porsgrunn is our factory, and it is our responsibility to make it work and run it in a sustainable manner,” he points out.
“At the same time we are part of a large network and, for instance, can draw on the expertise of the 200 R&D colleagues at the RHI Group’s Technology Centre in Leoben. They can help us improve our quality. There’s no need for us to reinvent the wheel. The potential is already there in the Raw Materials Division and its six European factories.”