Global Steel Industry Moguls Gather in Dubai for SteelVia – The Global Steel Innovations Forum
Mining News Pro - Leading lights from the global steel industry and eminent speakers assembled at SteelVia, the Global Steel Innovations Forum, that kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 25 September, 2018.

According to Mining News Pro -Leading lights from the global steel industry and eminent speakers assembled at SteelVia, the Global Steel Innovations Forum, that kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 25 September, 2018.

Technical experts from the iron and steel industry from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and other parts of the world were co-hosted by SteelMint India and Media Fusion at the first edition of this high-profile event held at Le Meridien Hotel & Conference Centre in Dubai.

Embracing innovations for the future

Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Etsuro Hirai, Global CTO & President, Primetals Technologies, Japan, highlighted the significance of innovations in ensuring sustainable steel production and the current mega trends that are shaping the industry. In his speech titled ‘The Inevitability of Innovations – Sustainable Steel Production and Current Megatrends Shaping the Industry`, Dr. Hirai explained how Primetals was embracing radical changes in the industry by adopting suitable technologies and innovative solutions with an eye on environmental aspects, green production, modernisation and digitalisation.

He dwelt on the megatrends in two phases: One was ongoing and the second on demand. “Ongoing megatrends we see today include mass urbanisation and changes in mobility with the likes of electric vehicles. Emerging megatrends include global climate change and the fourth industrial revolution leading to industry 4.O,” said Dr. Hirai, who went on to explain what urbanisation meant for the steel industry. He said in the light of drastic rise in population projected for the coming decades, global construction investment would grow significantly. “By 2035, it will have almost doubled compared to 2015. This will change the requirements for the steel industry, especially in terms of the need for new advanced steel grades and sustainable ways of producing them” such as high performance steel applications, high corrosion-resistant steel for hot and humid environments, enhanced performance of steel with new composite materials using carbon nanotubes and so on.

Dr Hirai also elaborated on some of the green technologies and solutions that Primetals has developed for environmentally-friendly operations that help improve performance in many critical areas such as energy efficiency.

Iron & Steel Industry Digital Transformation, Process Optimisation & Sustainability

Spotlight on Automation and Industry 4.0

As automation and other technologies gain increasing acceptance and start getting adopted by the steel industry in the developed countries, with the developing nations following suit, it is being widely perceived that automation is the future of the steel industry. This was the one message that the speakers in the first session of the Global Steel Innovations Forum had to share with the delegates. For instance, businesses are looking at unmanned factories and unmanned cranes, which indicate a move towards automation. What this means for the steel industry in general and how various cutting-edge technologies can improve production efficiencies in existing steel factories were some of the topics that were addressed in the session.

The presentations focused on digital transformation and the gradual move towards process optimisation and sustainability. They zeroed in on the solutions and technologies available in the market as well those that are evolving especially in terms of automation and industry 4.0.

Highest Productivity at Lowest Cost

Dr. Markus Ringhofer, Sale Manager Industry 4.0, Primetals Technologies, Austria, spoke about the digital transformation of the steel industry. He drew attention to integrated solutions for high quality steel production and high productivity at the lowest costs in a separate presentation entitled ‘Through Process Optimisation (TPO) – An Integrated Solution for Steel Production with Quality and Highest Productivity at Lowest Cost”.

Dr. Ringhofer elaborated on steel producers` requirements in different segments such as know-how management, supplier integration, new steel grades, availability of information, ergonomy/operator support, etc., and outlined the new technologies and solutions available that help orchestrate production activities in a sustainable manner. These technologies include communication technologies, computational power, internet technologies, cloud technologies and big data analytics.

“A digital plant is like an orchestra,” he noted, explaining how numerous elements in an orchestra come together to produce the best results. Dr. Ringhofer enumerated the options available that offer great flexibility and productivity that help improve overall operational efficiency in steel production. The model Primetals has developed looks at all the individual players within a facility and works out methods to synchronise all their activities, he stated, elaborating on the specific solutions offered by the company such as robotics, continuous casting model suite for highest product quality, through process optimisation, providing services to customers in terms of evaluating data and the MAT maintenance strategy that helps in planning, scheduling and ensuring a holistic approach when supporting a facility`s maintenance operations thereby striving towards digital unity.

“Industry 4.0 is not something available off the shelf,” said Dr. Ringhofer, adding that there was no single solution for all and it is up to each plant to define their own particular implementation strategy. Primetals suggests developments in all directions and helps producers adopt technologies as per their individual needs, he concluded.

Benchmarking & incessant improvements

Dr. Rizwan Janjua, Head of Technology, World Steel Association, Belgium, focused on the ‘Energy Benchmarking, Maintenance and Reliability` system. In his presentation, he drew attention to Worldsteel Benchmarking & Assessment Systems. All businesses need to continuously monitor their performance in order to be able to spot lapses and constantly raise their standards. Highlighting two approaches, he said assessment should happen both internally and externally to improve efficiency and ensure long-term viability.

“Benchmarking systems allow any company to effectively manage and measure its performance,” Dr. Janjua said. They allow companies to understand improvement potential in a holistic manner, aim higher and work toward saving energy, maintenance costs, lowering CO2 emissions and improving yields. Benchmarking features offered include expert groups from industry with continuous review of methodology, establishment of benchmark and providing reports. They also do regular data updates and conduct workshops, he said.

The industry is already competent but should aim to improve further, said Dr. Janjua. Energy represents a significant portion of the cost of steel production and the energy benchmarking system is to put into perspective why energy efficiency is so important, he underlined. Improvements in energy efficiency result in reduced production costs, he added, highlighting the metrics Worldsteel uses to identify maintenance and reliability. “For achieving best in class performance you need to know where you stand,” said Dr. Janjua, adding that by using Worldsteel`s benchmarking systems one could understand where one stood and how one could further improve their operations and overall performance.

Setting up a smart plant

Enrico Plazzogna, Executive Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Danieli, Italy,delivered a presentation titled ‘Digi & Met - From a Plant to a Smart Plant – A Step Towards Industry 4.0`. He put the spotlight on Digi & Met, the cross-functional business unit Danieli has created to develop and implement new plant design concepts based on digital innovation, and also new business models based on servitisation and outcome economy principles to ensure consistency in quality, plant utilisation, OpEx and faster deliveries.

Their solutions aim to provide customers digital innovation under new business models and simplify metals complexity, said Plazzogna. Among the solutions he advanced were some tools for intelligent mills such as Production Scheduling, which entails minimum cost and helps adhere to schedule with optimum use of resources and a different supply chain; Tracking of Products where the automation system and process models help track the product from melt shop to the finished product; and Tracking of Quality for real time quality monitoring and so on. There could be full control of stockyards with fully automatic systems like cranes and sensors that are wholly unmanned, he explained. “This is how we would like to see the steel plants of the future,” he said. “It is possible and happening already today.”

Plazzogna furnished the example of Q-Robot Melt – robot applications created to help operators in each production area to work in a better and safer manner. These solutions allow the introduction of flexible automation in dangerous areas where human presence is still necessary to finalise the production. He also presented various other technologies and solutions including web applications such as Q3 Intelligence and Q3 Mobile Intelligence. In terms of setting up a smart factory, he said, the data-driven technologies help to enhance performance. He further explained Danieli`s approach in terms of assessment, design and implementation.

“Intelligent plants are not a dream,” he said, adding that they already exist to some extent and a crucial benefit of these technologies s that they guarantee quick return on investments, Plazzogna concluded.

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