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POSCO Masters: A Cold Rolling Expert


Suh Gwang-Il’s training at the beginning of his 35 years at POSCO was nothing short of tough. On April 1, 1983, he joined the Cold Rolling Strength Maintenance Department and Suh still remembers one of his first assignments.

“Nowadays, all of the electrical instrumentation control facilities use a digital control system with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) or Distributed Control Systems (DCS). At that time, the Cold Rolling Maintenance manager gave me the task of drawing up each of the 25 A3 pages of the equipment control block diagram by memory, in a month. It seemed impossible, but I did it faster than anyone.”

The training paid off. In his third year, he quickly detected a disconnection in the winding part of a motor during a daily inspection of the cold rolling mill, preventing what could have been a catastrophic equipment accident.

“As a result, I found the same defect in 5 other motors and repaired them in advance. It was the first time I was commended for my work and since then, I immersed myself in my work because of the rewarding experience.”


Milestones in Suh’s Career

There was plenty more to be commended for after that as Suh became a crucial member of the cold rolling mill.

In 1995, Suh was in control of the rolling equipment brought in from Japan at the Pohang Cold Rolling Mill 1. “I had special orders to figure out how to work with the brand-new equipment without any difficulties as soon as possible. For that to happen, I knew I had to be able to communicate freely with the Japanese supervisor. I spent all my free time outside of working hours learning Japanese. Soon, I was able to converse with the supervisor without any trouble. Of course, I was able to operate the equipment faster and better than anyone else.”

His passion for achievement continued. Starting from 1997, he became a member of a new development Task Force Team (TFT) for the the Cold Rolling Mill 1. Together the team achieved a processing speed of 2,150 mpm which was the fastest among all the steel mills in the world at the time.

Sheets of cold rolled steel in a steel mill

Sheets of cold rolled steel

His next task was at Zhangjiagang Pohang Stainless Steel Co., Ltd., in China. It was the source of many problems for POSCO, starting with the vibrations coming from the payoff reel (POR) of the annealing and pickling lines. He tried stabilizing the base and frame, but the vibrations wouldn’t stop. He finally found the root of the problem: it was the oxygen that seeped into the hydraulic oil that caused the vibrations. Right away he installed an air vent and the vibrations stopped.

In 2001, Suh joined the Double Reversing Mill’s new line TFT and successfully completed the planning, design and installation construction of all the equipment. All that was left was the trial when they ran into issues. The Japanese supervisors couldn’t properly laminate the thinnest sheet of steel that was 0.05 millimeters as they insisted on using a roll gap to roll out the steel. Suh thought of a better way. He persuaded his team and supervisors to try combining the roll gap method with the stretch rolling method for better results. His idea was applied right away, to achieve the desired thickness.

Expertise in Cold Rolling

Suh’s numerous achievements coupled with his endless efforts to learn made him an expert in his field of cold rolling.

In 2006, Suh developed a technology called the Roll Force Mode to take care of plate breakage problems. From 2008 to 2009, Suh took successful steps to improve the welding machine for the annealing and pickling process. He achieved an error margin of less than 0.001 millimeters on all the welding equipment.

His latest achievement was in February of this year when his team completed the trial run of the cold rolling process 3 without any external support. The process of rolling Hyper NO had never been done before, so they had to try numerous times to find the most desirable settings for the equipment and the inputs. At the end of the demanding process, they were successful.

Working Philosophy/ Results

In 2011, Suh received the CEO’s Exemplary Award, and was named the Maintenance Man of the Year in 2013. When asked for his secret to success, he answered, “steady learning, deeply caring for the facilities and communicating with my colleagues. If I did not practice these three things, I would not be where I am today.”

Suh Gwang-Il on site at POSCO’s steel mill with his colleagues

Suh Gwang-Il on site at POSCO’s steel mill with his colleagues

Among his colleagues, Suh is known for his ability to identify different equipment and machinery by the sound it makes. It is this kind of practice, unending curiosity and genuine interest in his work that makes Suh Gwang-Il a true master.

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