Technical article

Tubular ECI – a new process for standardized implementation of exceptional products

SSAB made significant improvements in the development of digital sales support processes

ECI (Exceptional Customer Inquiry) is one of the leaps forward in digital sales. ECI is used to assess the manufacturability of completely new products or old products that have become inactive, according to customer needs. The ECI interface is part of the MySSAB platform, which is widely used at SSAB by its customers.


What is an exceptional product inquiry?

"What typically makes a product inquiry exceptional is when a customer requires a product to meet tolerances that go beyond the normal product standards, for example for tube shape, straightness or material thickness. On the other hand, the customer may also require other special features, such as a special seam quality or packaging method, which must also be assessed from a holistic point of view before the requirement can be approved for production," says Antti Markkula, Director, Development & Support, Tubular Products.

ECI process has been in use in the Tubular group for a long time. In 2023, roughly 70% of all ECI enquiries resulted in an approval and the rest were rejected by a reason. ECI process has been most active for precision tube and structural hollow section related inquiries.


Why is the inquiry rejected?

Of the ECI cases analyzed, around one third are rejected after the evaluation process. The reason for this is that when the ECI process is in operation, certain requirements are revealed which the mill cannot approve for production due to the expected technical limitations or lack of profitability of the product.

"For example, requirements can lead to significant rejections and thus poor efficiency. On the other hand, some features require new manufacturing technology that the mill does not yet have. Ideally, such rejected ECI queries can lead to new investments if it is found that the queries repeatedly fail due to the lack of production equipment. The ECI process plays multiple roles in ensuring the profitability of the Tubular business through production and product portfolio renewal. It must be win-win business for both SSAB and its customers" Antti sums up.


Tubular ECI as part of MySSAB

The redesigned Tubular ECI was launched in MySSAB customer portal in December 2023. Antti says that the initial feedback on the redesigned tool has been positive. The interface automatically prints Technical Product Data Sheets, which can be transparently communicated to customers. All agreed issues and special requirements can be recorded on a document, which reduces misunderstandings and even disagreements on agreed issues (e.g. complaints).

MySSAB is a platform primarily designed for customers, allowing them to monitor the status of their orders and track the real-time journey of their deliveries from the mill to their location. In the future, MySSAB may also serve as a platform for storing all technical product information, as well as facilitating open communication with customers.

"This would eliminate all unnecessary email exchanges, and the additional feature hopefully brings many new users to the customer portal," says Antti.

In the near future, it will be evaluated whether the ECI interface could also be applied to other product groups, such as special inquiries for cold-formed open sections or even steel piles.


“Example of customer’s main view in Tubular ECI section”


More information on SSAB Tubular products 

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