Microsoft and Tenova – a Techint Group company headquartered in Castellanza, Italy – have announced their collaboration in the development of sensors/actuators, decentralised intelligence and supplier-customer interaction with a view to improving business productivity in the steel industry.

Using the Tenova system, it is claimed that plant machines will be capable the specific productive processes as well as provide operators or AI algorithms with specific information on their own conditions – detected autonomously – through dedicated measurements and reporting with respect to specific events.

By evaluating the information derived from sensors, decentralised intelligence will elaborate, in real time, the possible behavioural scenarios, providing monitoring and predictive maintenance functions. The system will also make it possible to reset specific configurations automatically or modify functioning parameters to achieve optimal plant configuration, Tenova claims.

A service portfolio of high added value – thanks to the network connection of the machines – will enable the capitalisation of data from machines and plants that will optimize production and guarantee prompt remote assistance and minimal downtime.

Through partnership with Microsoft, Tenova claims that it will provide even more efficient and innovative metals production plants, which are compliant with strict safety, environmental and sustainability regulations.

High computational power, the application of provisional algorithms, based on machine learning technologies, and the fact that plant machinery can be connected to the Azure cloud platform are three reasons why such as system will be realised, according to Tenova.

The company believes that the definite advantages of this Industry 4.0 solution are numerous and measurable. It claims that the system will increase overall equipment effectiveness, reduce energy consumption, enable valuable remote assistance, using Tenova specialists to lower maintenance costs and downtime, guarantee order management flexibility and control the plant more effectively through a comprehensive overview of single components.

Andrea Lovato, CEO of Tenova, said that technological innovation represents a major commitment for Tenova and is a crucial factor in the company’s growth strategy. "We found in Microsoft a key ally to bring about digital transformation," he said, adding that cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Microsoft learning technologies have enabled the development of a 4.0 solution that represents the best recipe to contribute to the future of the iron and steel industry. "The goal is to make plants more intelligent and connected, offer services of high added value by analysing machine data to optimise production, and help our customers to achieve their business objectives”, claims Lovato.