The Mill of the Future and Technology Enablers

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Lately, there have been numerous technical evolutions related to new metallurgical process, equipment, and software technologies. The idea of this blog is not to tackle such technologies, but try to understand some technology trends (some of them foreign to the metal world) and their potential impact on metals operations.

My intent is to avoid the IT buzz words such as mobility and big data, but try to focus on some other trends that, for me, are even more appealing.

Augmented Reality (AR):

For the gaming and entertainment industry, AR is already a reality, but it is not so present in industrial applications and metal industries. A practical example can be a crane operator visually integrated to a warehouse management system in order to identify the coils locations.

Steel mill warehouse management system
Steel mill warehouse management system

Internet of things (IoT):

IoT is the idea of having literally everything addressable, communicable, and accessible (RFID is a basic concept of IoT). Imagine a collection of iron pellets having its unique IP address (with embedded data) and being able to share its metallurgic properties information to the blast furnace control system.

Internet of things
Internet of things

Autonomous systems:

Having a complete mill operation with zero human presence can be somehow distant. But warehouse systems (smart crane controls) and stackers /reclaimers already achieved a good degree of autonomous operations.

Autonomous systems
Autonomous systems – Mining example


Mashups and information aggregation aren’t new technologies, but they can be better explored under the industry environment and management. Plant management can drag, drop, and cross different internal and external information to deliver a complete business picture. Imagine a sustainability portal with commodities and fuel prices, internet (market) news, emissions, water consumption, mill performance, and energy consumption from several mills, benchmark them or pinpoint a single location.

Mashups allows users to drag, drop, and cross different internal and external information to deliver a complete business picture
Mashups allow users to drag, drop, and cross different internal and external information to deliver a complete picture

Video analytics:

Why have an operator looking at a dozen monitors while trying to identify abnormal behavior of process and people? Video analytics bring intelligence from thousands of cameras to help identify erratic behavior or change of conditions pre-determined by thresholds.

Second life/simulation:

I’ve seen safety and plant walk-in trainings only based on virtualization that reproduce the plant environment and simulate risky/operational situations and the learner behavior. I still believe there are still plenty of opportunities for second life/simulation technologies.


Second life/simulation technologies
Second life/simulation technologies

Want to share a trend that you see on the plant floor?Please, leave your comments.