Industry 4.0 for Steel: Introducing Metals Orchestra

Primetals Technologies has developed a specific approach for the future-oriented implementation of the "industry 4.0" concept in the context of today's steel production

Imagine your steel plant as an orchestra where all components work in harmony to manufacture products of the highest quality. The smart plants of the future will contain equipment that is interconnected and can be orchestrated with ease to deliver unparalleled efficiency and reliability within the framework of Industry 4.0 for steel producer.

“Instruments for the digital era of steel” is the slogan that Primetals Technologies has created to mirror the concept behind its new and future-proof equipment-integration approach. It is based on the concept that all components need to be ready to meet future challenges, and it is driven by three goals: First, the production quality of a steel plant should be as reliable and consistent as possible. Second, the production chain should be adaptable to respond to specific customer requests, changes in raw materials, and other factors. And third, it tends to be on the wish list of literally any steel producer worldwide to lower production costs and increase output.

How future-proof are you?

The questions that are relevant here are: How capable are the individual plants of a metallurgical facility? Do they need to be improved or replaced to accommodate impending portfolio changes? How well are they directed and synchronized throughout the whole production chain? The concept of “Metals Orchestra” ties into all of these questions and proposes a distinctive approach for how to answer them in a concise way.

Through-Process Optimization at work

A recent, exemplary installation that featured a component in alignment with the Metals Orchestra concept was completed for a major Chinese steel producer. Primetals Technologies introduced Through-Process Optimization (TPO), which is a software package capable of dealing with the large amounts of complexity that arise within a steel plant.

Two new functionality additions to TPO are rule-based surface-quality grading and statistical process control (SPC). The first of these innovations automatically evaluates freshly detected defects on the strip surface, and also determines an overall surface quality rating for the respective coil. This reduces the workload for all involved quality engineers and inspectors. The second solution, SPC, is used to monitor process data in order to ensure stable production without process-related quality issues. Compared to former SPC applications, the respective function within TPO acts as a centralized and consistent data source for SPC evaluations without having to collect the required process data from different locations. This greatly reduces the overall work effort.

These new functionalities demonstrate both the capability of the TPO solution and the underlying idea of Metals Orchestra, where all facilities of the plant perform in perfect synergy.

The players of the orchestra …

All plant components can be thought of as “players of the orchestra,” which need to be enabled to inter-¬≠operate with one another in several ways. So-called “smart” sensors are constantly providing information where necessary. Sophisticated process optimization provides adaptable control of all local processes, and automatic functions lessen the overall workload. Condition monitoring provides transparency and minimizes the maintenance efforts, and advanced connectivity features lead to a highly efficient use of the information available within the separate plant facilities. All together, these technologies make the lives of plant personnel significantly easier and allow for everyday work to become “smarter,” thanks to the support of the Metals Orchestra system.

… and its conductors

The orchestration of the plant components is performed by three “conductors” who form an interdependent unity:
a production management system, a computerized maintenance management system, and a process-quality optimization package that Primetals Technologies calls “Through-Process Optimization.” The latter uniquely provides know-how-based identification of nonconformities, identifies the root cause, and provides corrective and compensational actions that cover the full production chain. These “conductors” ensure that all facilities are properly synchronized and achieve their full potential.

More to follow soon

Over the course of the coming months, Primetals Technologies will release more information about the Metals Orchestra concept. While the total complexity is high, the core idea is simple: Any equipment obtained from Primetals Technologies that carries the “Metals Orchestra” label will be capable of being intregrated into future setups where it will be a “player” within a well-conducted “orchestra of steel.” Thus, you as a customer can be assured that your investment in new equipment will be profitable over a very long time period due to the future-oriented nature of the equipment.