Steel production is an area that has been studied for decades, and as such the industry has remained very conservative. Despite the big data revolution beginning in the early 2000s, "old-school" industries like steel-making have largely shunned any form of data-driven applications. Fortunately, things change, and here's an example of how data analytics technologies, born within the internet industry, can be applied to an offline practice like turning pig iron into steel. When we began work with Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), one of the world's largest steel producers and a leading steel company in Russia, a lot of time was spent looking for a challenge that if solved, could (a) positively impact business revenues, and (b) be completed in reasonable time.The challenge that was eventually uncovered and able to meet these criteria, is one well-known to all metallurgists: how much of each ferroalloy to add during steel-making process in order to ensure the required chemistry of the steel at the lowest possible cost. This chemistry is dictated by the international standards for steel – a list of required ranges for the amounts of each element in the final mix.
A lumpy disc of dark-gray steel covers a bench in the lab space of Boston Metal, an MIT spinout located a half-hour north of its namesake city. It's the company's first batch of the high-strength alloy, created using a novel approach to metal processing. Instead of the blast furnace employed in steelmaking for centuries, Boston Metal has developed something closer to a battery. Specifically, it's what's known as an electrolytic cell, which uses electricity--rather than carbon--to process raw iron ore. If the technology works at scale as cheaply as the founders hope, it could offer a clear path to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from one of the hardest-to-clean sectors of the global economy, and the single biggest industrial source of climate pollution.
With advances in technology driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and the creation of data lakes, organizations are coming to recognize their value to industrial production. Enterprise AI can be embedded in fundamental business models to augment decision-making. It focuses on outcomes rather than the technology itself, enabling an organization to turn data into valuable insights for creating continuous customer value. The metal industry, one of the oldest in human civilization, has been the backbone of modern industrial growth. Steel is the most popular metal in use today, and iron, the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust, is its key constituent.
SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE – China's steelmakers are smashing production records by pushing furnaces beyond their typical limits, offsetting nationwide closures that may be even more swingeing than government estimates, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The world's top producer has trumpeted sweeping reforms in the past two years that have shuttered aging and illegal plants, and shackled winter output in the dirtiest regions. At the same time, official data shows output at record highs. That's partly because, with demand robust and margins high, mills have rewritten their steel-making recipes to push output beyond normal capacity, says Goldman's Hong Kong-based analyst Trina Chen. "For the same blast furnace, mills can deliver an extra 10 percent or more steel than before," Chen said by email.