Digitalised steelmaking – how will the industry change?
Over the last decade, the steel industry has undergone a digital transformation. By restructuring and consolidating data handling and introducing an increased level of intelligence, highly technological production processes and products are being developed.
How is change affecting the industry?
Digital technologies are changing the world by dramatically improving how we operate our businesses and how we live our lives. Today, steel and metal manufacturers face the opportunity to transform their operational model with digital technology, enabling them to improve business significantly.
But where does digitalisation start?
It is essential to define the context and provide some necessary definitions. “Digitisation” is defined as “the action or process of digitizing; the conversion of analog data into digital form,” while the term “Digitalisation” refers to the transformation of interactions communications, business functions, and business models into the digital ones.
By using “digital technologies” and digitised and natively digital data, digitalisation aims to achieve increased revenue, better run business, improve business processes, and create an environment for digital business processes.
The role of data
Over the decades, data has played a significant role in the steel industry. Their intelligent use within the digital transformation scope opens up new possibilities to further increase delivery performance and product quality.
Data acquisition, storage, and analysis have dropped in price significantly in the past few years. This brings multiple digital solutions that become available and are relatively inexpensive to implement.
How can digital technology make a real difference?
Digital technology has already demonstrated its potential to revolutionize the operational model in speed, cost, and implementation. It uses self-learning algorithms to sift through large volumes of data-generating new insights and finding new patterns.
In sales, it eases the demand forecast to reduce inventory and improve margins while delivering better service.
In operations, advanced control allows for efficient processing optimized by models using the vast number of data inputs. Predictive maintenance use cases help companies to predict equipment breakdowns (a common headache of steel and metal companies) and optimize maintenance frequency.
The traditional prediction method is dependant on people’s experience. With sensors and machine learning, digital solutions can significantly improve the accuracy and allow extra time before unplanned shutdowns to fix potential issues.
How does this work in the context of steelmaking?
Applying digitalisation to steelmaking production translates into a factory where the data collection is massive, advanced models control the operations processing steps, and operators have many support systems to rely upon.
The end result is a production environment with a high level of stability, maybe the most critical criteria to obtain high productivity, quality, and safety.
The industrial digitalisation revolution transforms the steel industry by forming new ways of working, more some than others. Understanding industrial digitalisation and the opportunities that arise is vital for building success. Ensure you understand what path you are likely to follow in the coming years and remember to stay ahead before you fall behind.