Most popular IoT applications in metals industry

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By Tarun Mathur  LinkedIn
ABB Metals Digital Lead

About the author
Tarun Mathur graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and holds a Master’s degree in mathematical modeling and process control.

He has held several positions in R&D focusing on the development of advanced model-based solutions for process industries.

Tarun is currently focused on projects applying new digital technologies to optimize metals plant performance, processes and quality.

After my previous blog dedicated to data security and risk management associated with IIoT adoption, I would like to share my experience implementing the most interesting digital use cases unique to the metals industry.

Like other process industries, metals have benefited from digitalization and are fast adopting this new paradigm. What makes digitalization a game-changer for the metals sector is the number of processes that can be digitalized and the wide variety of possible applications. When implemented effectively, digitalization can help metals industries optimize the entire value chain from planning and stockyard through cold rolling to processing and shipping.

New tools, new solutions

Digitalization can help address issues relating to order-to-delivery process time; and loss of productivity. With condition monitoring application, metals plants can increase reliability, while reducing maintenance costs and downtime. Another key issue – safety – can also be easily addressed through a digitalization solution.

For instance, we identified a key process gap – tracking of material and inventory across diverse processes. This gap, resulting from absence of a layer integrating automated material tracking at various steps, results in lowered optimization of production planning and lead time to customers. Through digitalization, we have been able to integrate islands of information and provide a resource for real-time tracking of material and inventory across the entire value chain from planning to shipping.  

Across the metals value chain

Most popular IoT solutions that help address efficiency requirements at every step in the metals value chain: 

  • At the planning stage, digitalization can help with better production planning through complete system integration for insights and accurate forecasting to optimize schedules, closed loop execution 

  • At the stockyard, quality can be tracked, and storage time optimized through real-time tracking of tonnage to reduce overloading and stockpile loss 

  • Improvement in pellet quality and saving of energy at the primary metals area can be achieved through model predictive control, metal shop ladle tracking and accurate superheat prediction 

  • During hot rolling, fault prediction using cobble analysis with digital twins / assistants and vision technology for tracking can help ensure minimal downtime and production loss  

  • At the cold rolling and processing stage, quality can be improved through prediction of strip quality using machine learning models for processing parameters in mill, annealing and pickling 

  • Shipping and outbound logistics integration enabling just-in-time delivery can help transform shipping processes

With the right structure and understanding of metals industry processes, it is possible to transform the entire value chain

ABB Ability™ impact example

Start your digitalization effort

The ABB Ability™ platform has been effective in transforming the metals value chain at various stages - leading to maximized efficiency on costs, resources and asset performance.

Sneak peek

Amongst other areas, ABB Ability™ has been able to create an unprecedented impact on melt shop operations. My next blog covers this example in detail as an indicator of the transformative power of digitalization...

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