Future Steel Forum
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Digitalization and a Automation as Crucial Success Factors in Modern Steelmaking – New Special Steel Plant Sets a Global Benchmark, by Dr. Roman Stiftner, Managing Director, Austrian Non-Ferrous Metals Federation and the Austrian Mining & Steel Association.

With its new special steel plant, the Austrian steel producer voestalpine is setting completely new standards globally in digitalised and automated procedures for steel production. This totally new steel plant will start production this year and supply more than 200kt of special steel annually to the international aerospace, oil and gas, and tool construction industries. Furthermore, the ultra-modern plant will set global standards for digitised production processes. Around 8,000 process data must be continuously recorded and processed or evaluated in parallel.

The European Union is working on a data strategy to make the EU a leader in a data-driven society and economy. The goals are creating a single market for data that will allow free-flowing information within the EU and across sectors for the benefit of businesses, researchers and public administrations. The data strategy is an opportunity to continuously improve the sustainability and efficiency of processes, optimise energy and infrastructure; it also aims to reduce the pressure on the shortage of skilled workers. However, this will also require clear European regulations that guarantee privacy and data protection in particular and to ensure fair international competition.

The presented example of the new special steel plant sets new standards to meet increasingly stringent environmental demands by using innovative data processing. The heart of the plant is an electric arc furnace, which will melt down high-purity scrap in combination with various alloy metals to stainless steel and is running on 100% green electricity.

In addition, an efficient recovery system ensures that the surplus heat generated in the process is fed into the public district heating network. As a result, modern steel mills that are fully integrated in terms of data processing are not only competitive in Europe; they also set new benchmarks in energy efficiency and sustainability.

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