Future Steel Forum 2017 – Special Supplement

Future Steel Forum 2017 – Special Supplement

“If you’re not digital you are going to be left behind,” says Jonathan Toler of Kloeckner Metals, writing in this very publication. He has a point. Everybody is talking about the benefits of Industry 4.0 – or ‘smart manufacturing’ as it is known in the USA. For the foolish, it’s merely a buzz phrase, but for those with vision it represents a major sea change in the way foundation industries, like steelmaking, conduct their day-to-day operations. In short, it’s the fourth industrial revolution and you would be well advised not to ignore it.

In this limited edition conference publication, PwC claims that digitalisation will not only affect horizontal and vertical integration in the steel industry, it will also lead to new business models, which will boost operational efficiency and react to commoditisation and low-cost competition.

But what exactly is Industry 4.0 and how can it benefit the steel industry? Dr. Dirk Schaefer, associate professor of design engineering at the University of Bath in the UK, says that Industry 4.0 is a ‘transformative event’ that occurs where ‘countless elements comprising industrial systems are being interfaced with internet communication technologies to form the smart cyber-physical factories of the future’.

How can Industry 4.0 benefit the steel industry? Well, if you’re reading this in the Sheraton Hotel, Warsaw, Poland, then the chances are you are attending the Future Steel Forum, a conference that will focus entirely upon answering the big questions concerning digital manufacturing. We have plenty of top flight speakers eager to help you find the answers that you are looking for. I really hope you enjoy this supplement and the conference it supports.

Future Steel Forum 2017 – Special Supplement Contents

May-June 2017

May-June 2017

This month I found myself in Nashville, Tennessee, the 'music city", and I must say that I was very impressed. What a great place – apart from the food, which was a bit too 'burger and kettle chips' for my liking.

I was in town for AISTech 2017 at the Music City Centre, an amazing structure with a curvy roof and a tremendous interior depth (and height) that dominates downtown Demonbreun Street. It was an ideal venue to host a premium get-together of the global steel industry. Next year the event moves to Philadelphia. I can't wait as I've always been a fan of AISTech, mainly because it offers an unrivalled opportunity to meet the cream of the US steel industry, although I never saw the larger-than-life figures of John Ferriola and Mario Longhi.

For me there were three key occasions to this great event: the Howe Memorial Lecture; the President's Breakfast; and, of course, the Town Hall Forum. I'll be reporting on the event in our next issue. 

For now, though, I thought I'd focus on a comment made by Big River Steel's CEO, Dave Stickler, who spoke at the aforementioned President's Breakfast.

Big River Steel is arguably the newest and most technologically advanced steel plant in the world. It embraces technology such as artificial intelligence, it operates the first 'learning' mill and its various systems operate 'in the cloud'. According to Stickler, however, the 'status quo' steel industry is not known for innovation.

Having recently developed the programme for Future Steel Forum, a conference devoted to Industry 4.0 and its application to steel manufacturing (www.futuresteelforum.com) I feel I must pass some kind of comment on Stickler's assertion, although whether I agree with him or not might have to wait until after my conference (14-15 June, Sheraton Hotel, Warsaw, Poland). Why? Because while there is a lot of technological innovation going on in the steel industry, the big question must be: Is the steel industry taking full advantage of it?

Big River Steel is new, built from scratch and, therefore, was in the perfect position to capitalise on all the latest hi-tech equipment and systems available. My view is that the wider steel industry has embraced the potential of new technology and is in the process of taking digital manufacturing very seriously, judging by the calibre of the Future Steel Forum's growing list of delegates. Remember one thing: It's all about 'connectivity'.

May-June 2017 Contents

April 2017

April 2017

Brian K Cupp, 46, probably expected to return home from work as normal when he left his house and set off for Steel Summit, a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Unfortunately, a 30,000-pound steel coil fell on top of him and, sadly, he died.

Steel Summit has no previous OSHA investigations or federal civil lawsuits filed against it relating to worker safety, but nevertheless there’s a man down as a result of some kind of lapse in plant safety procedures. It happens and when it does, it brings to the fore the issue of steel plant safety.

Earlier in March, Timothy Earl Dagon, 42, died in an accident in the rail yard of US Steel’s Granite City, Illinois, plant. He had worked for the company for 20 years.

Also last month, Jamie Peacock, 40, from Oldbury in the West Midlands, UK, died from injuries suffered in an accident at steel firm Camtrex in Birmingham.

For every tragedy, however, there are success stories. AK Steel’s Zanesville works, also in Ohio, was recognised recently by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene, in recognition of its ‘outstanding safety performance’.

It would be fair to say that while every tragic accident is just that, the steel industry takes worker safety very seriously indeed.

Brian Cupp’s death was the result of a falling object, one of the top five causes of serious safety incidents, according to worldsteel, which this month organises its fourth Steel Safety Day (28 April).

Moving machinery, falling from heights, on-site traffic and process safety are the other four major causes of safety incidents, but this year the main focus of the worldsteel campaign is falling objects, like the one that killed Mr. Cupp.

The World Steel Association (worldsteel) claims that all injuries and work-related illnesses can be prevented, and that the industry has achieved ‘significant improvements’ in the field of safety and health.

Emirates Steel, for example, is using modern technology to improve worker safety with the use of drones for plant safety inspections.

Steel Safety Day is an industry-wide initiative designed to raise awareness of how to prevent serious safety incidents at steel plants around the world. Be involved.

April 2017 Contents