The automation of industry is an investment in the future. The world of technology will continue to expand and offer new opportunities. There will not be many who have not heard of, read of, or otherwise encountered the term Industry 4.0. It stands for the breakthrough changes in manufacturing on account of the progressive deployment of automation and digitization. ArcelorMittal Ostrava has long been developing the concept of Steel 4.0, which was the focus of our discussion with the director of the automation plant, Miroslav Hýbl. What projects have you managed to implement and what does the automation process look like in an integrated iron- and steel-making company? So far, we have implemented several large and many small projects. Out of the large ones, we have completed, for example, the automation of the quenching cars at the coke plant, whose operation is now unmanned, a control system for the sinter plant, and a digital system for truck transport control. In the company, automation is generally divided into two parts. One is in charge of control systems used to control machines and the manufacturing processes in all operations. The other part of automation deals with process management, modelling, and systems that track and control all production at individual plants. What are your current plans and what solutions do you consider vital for the future? We have a clear vision until 2021. So far we have completed the automation of quenching as well as guiding a pushing cars. We have installed new control systems for the sinter plant, and now we will introduce such systems at the blast furnace plant. At that plant we are also about to finalize a new digital twin of the blast furnace to simulate the processes inside as these are very difficult to measure. Based on the measurements of such variables as the composition of the charge, pressure, and temperature, the system will model the
processes inside the furnace. This will allow us to better predict what will happen and make the production process safer and more efficient. The twin for blast furnace no. 3 has just been put into operation and the digital twin for blast furnace no. 2 will be introduced this year. Another question that comes to the minds of many people is whether there is a danger of some types of “human work” disappearing as a result of automation… In the case that automation in the company affects some of the employees, they are offered other jobs or re-qualification to work elsewhere in the plant. In addition to that, with further automation, which essentially frees people from monotonous and dull work, new opportunities and sectors open up. These may eventually employ more people than the original processes required. Automation will take care of controlling the process, while employees will be able to engage in more creative and diverse activities that cannot be automated. The world of technology will expand and offer new opportunities that would be inconceivable without automation. Complexity will be boosted and require more and more people to think, create, operate and maintain. So I may safely say that automation of the industry is an investment in the future of all of us.
Text & foto: ArcelorMittal Ostrava
Automatizace a digitalizace je v ostravské huti zastoupena ve všech provozech. Automation and digitization touches all the operations of the Ostrava steelworks.