Tag Archives: Steel Industry

Summer, Sun and Optimus Steel Safety

On a Texas Day in August, employees of Optimus Steel arrive at work in perfect 70-degree weather while the sun rises.

Electrical and mechanical maintenance supervisors gather for the daily safety inspections. This is an essential part of the work day at the Beaumont Mill before employees step up to their nearly 3,000-degree furnace to turn scrap metal into high quality steel wire rods.

The process of steel making includes hundreds of people and thousands of steps. From trucks, rail cars and barges getting unloaded, to melting, refining and rolling, to products being shipped out again. All of these things happen here, and safety is the most important part of the process.

The Safety Manager at Optimus Steel, Matt Hammer, says the safety program has been developed over years of operations and technical advancements in the field.

Hammer said the daily safety walks ahead of production meetings, audits and inspections are integral to holding themselves to the perfect standards.

“We hold weekly safety meetings with every member of our leadership team to discuss success and opportunities,” Hammer said. “We have a strong and resourceful Joint Health and Safety Committee to ensure all voices are heard and to ensure hourly participation in the safety program.”

It’s a priority of Optimus’ to make sure every new addition to the company will be able contribute to these safety measures. Optimus Steel goes one step further by spending thousands of dollars on fresh fruit during the summer, installing state of the art cooling stations, offering cooling vests as well as other industry standard heat reduction tools.

While company-wide safety processes are important, it is also critical that every individual is given the opportunity to take the best care of themselves possible.

Here are a few safety rules to live by:

Six safety and health principles for the industry:

  1. All injuries and work-related illness can and must be prevented.
  2. Management is responsible and accountable for safety and health performance.
  3. Employee engagement and training is essential.
  4. Working safely is a condition of employment.
  5. Excellence in safety and health supports excellent business results.
  6. Safety and health must be integrated in all business-management processes.

From the World Steel Association

It is vitally important to account for the summer heat. Here are other tips to avoid heat related illnesses:

  1. Do not drink energy drinks.
  2. Avoid other drinks with a lot of sugar and caffeine.
  3. Eat light lunches and snacks.
  4. Pace yourself and take breaks if needed.
  5. Listen to your body.
  6. Alternate water and electrolyte replacement drinks.

From the Center for Disease Control

Optimus Steel: The Beginning of Us

“We strive for perfection in everything we do. Our goal is to outperform the steel industry in safety, quality, value and innovation.”

This is the philosophy that has captivated the 42-year-old Beaumont Mill by virtue of its new owner Optimus Steel LLC. Optimus Steel is a newly formed venture. The company acquired the mill on April 1, 2018.

“We bought the mill with the intent to better serve the many longtime customers of the mill and to grow in the steel making business. We believe we are doing that with the depth and breadth of high quality products we provide, and our superior logistic solutions because we can ship by barge, rail and truck,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ed Goettl.

The plant located in Beaumont, Texas, has a capacity of approximately 700,000 tons. A figure Optimus Steel is already making complete use of. They are well into the production of wire rods, billets and coiled rebar serving a multitude of industries including construction, automotive, energy and more.

“We have already started to invest significantly in the business to increase output and to improve quality,” he said. “We’re coming in with a new angle and none of these things can be done without the employees.”

Optimus Steel employs industrial electricians, switchmen, crane operators and millwrights to all types of maintenance supervisors.

“Without their knowledge, without their expertise, without their commitment and dedication — what we have been able to achieve in such a short period of time just wouldn’t have been possible,” Goettl said.

For example, Goettl remembers when Optimus first decided they needed a brand-new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. From start to finish, the system was implemented in 45 days.

“Our employees are going 100 miles an hour all day long,” he said.

The employees embody honesty, responsibility, excellence, passion and teamwork. Values that are translated into the end-product. Goettl said everything comes back to the quality of what they are putting out — it will always set them apart.

Optimus Steel wants to be known for four things:

  • Safety
  • Stakeholder value
  • Quality
  • Innovation

Matthew Hammer, Optimus Steel Safety Manager, says one example is their innovative safety program which has been developed over years of operations and technical advancements in the field.

“We use up-to-date technology to enhance the safety of our employees — like using drones for inspections of areas that are not readily accessible,” Hammer said. “Working together at all levels of employment, we strive to advance our safety program.”

Hammer said they also take daily safety walks ahead of any production meetings, perform internal and external audits as well as inspections to make sure they do what they are say they are doing with their products.

“We benchmark with trade organizations like the Steel Manufacturers Association. This bench-marking not only keeps us up-to-date with industry standards but allows us to compete with the best-of-the-best safety programs in North America and across the globe,” Hammer said.

Goettl said they implement their goals and values in dealing with their customers.

“We say we’re striving for perfection in everything we do,” he said. “The ultimate judge of that is going to be our employees, customers and vendors. We’re trying to be on time with our schedule, we’re trying to have outstanding safety performance and give a return to our stakeholders.”

If Optimus Steel can always hold themselves to these standards, Goettl believes they will be able to achieve their goal of continuing to grow in the industry either by building new mills or additional acquisitions nationally and possibly internationally.

“If we do these things properly then our brand will become more and more of a force in the steel industry,” Goettl said.