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Significant funding for digitalization and platform economy research in steelmaking

by | Dec 13, 2019

Luxmet has received significant funding for digitalization and platform economy research in steelmaking as part of the AMET-project.

Metals are an essential part of the modern society. New models and control systems are required for the optimization of steelmaking processes as well as the improvement of their environmental impact. However, a significant part of the expertise required for the development of digitalization-related solutions, especially measurement equipment and monitoring solutions, is found outside the steel producers. So far, the connection between equipment and measurements has favored large suppliers that can provide complete solutions, but due to their closed systems making it more difficult for smaller companies to enter the industry. Solutions based on the open platform economy, which are a central topic in Industry 4.0, will provide a change to the present situation.

The basis of the AMET-project is the open platform economy, which makes it easier for SMEs to enter the industry, thus giving steel producers an opportunity to benefit from the cost-efficiency and fast development pace of SMEs. The project focuses in strengthening the metallurgical production processes and the supply chains of metal products, which is achieved with new measurement solutions, models, the horizontal linking of data streams, as well as a more developed analysis of process data. The purpose of the project is to develop process monitoring systems and expert systems for chosen processes, such as the electric arc furnace, continuous casting and rolling, as well as the processing of steel, including pipe manufacturers and foundries. The developed systems and technical solutions are piloted case-by-case together with the industrial partners.

The operating model based on the platform economy, which is further developed in the AMET-project, will strengthen the status of fast-developing specialized SMEs in a field traditionally dominated by large companies. The objective is to multiply the revenue of the SMEs taking part in the project, as well as develop the ecosystem to allow the entry of possible new actors. The aim of Luxmet is to develop a modular electric arc furnace control model that can utilize multiple different novel measurement systems in controlling various sub-processes of the electric arc furnace. With the modular control model steel plants can easily implement novel process measurements dealing with fluctuations caused by scrap. On the other hand, developers of measurement systems gain a clear channel with which to implement their measurement technology to industrial electric arc furnace processes. The control model is intended to yield significant energy savings in electric arc furnace processing.

Five SMEs, two universities, and two industrial partners are directly taking part in the AMET-project. The participating SMEs include Kaltio Technologies Oy, Luxmet Oy, Quva Oy, Sapotech Oy, and Sensmet Oy. The partaking universities are the University of Oulu and Åbo Akademi. The solutions developed in the project are piloted in the steel mills of Ovako Imatra Ab and SSAB Europe Oy, which include both iron ore- and steel scrap-based steel production methods. The total budget of the two-year project is 5.65 million euros. The project is funded by Business Finland and the partners of the consortium. The preparation of the project was coordinated by Juha Roininen from Sapotech Oy, as well as Professor Timo Fabritius and Postdoctoral Researcher Ville-Valtteri Visuri from the University of Oulu.