The real world and cyberspace are merging, huge volumes of data form the basis for accurate production decisions, and companies are growing together digitally, with products and production standing in digital dialogue.
This is Industry 4.0, which is set to have an impact similar to that of the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago. It’s about a new way of organizing the value chain over the entire product lifecycle, based on connecting each link in the chain through real-time availability of all relevant information. In view of this radical transformation we are supporting the issue not just within the company but as part of the nationwide Industry 4.0 platform.
At one of our hot strip mills we have implemented an Industry 4.0 solution that goes way beyond the boundaries of an individual company. The processes of the supplier, the hot strip mill as the manufacturer, and the customers are connected in a digital network.
Hot-rolled coil starts out life as a steel slab. Slab production at Hüttenwerke Krupp-Mannesmann is controlled by the hot strip mill around 80 kilometers away. That means we can respond quickly to our customers’ deadline requirements even with the starting material.
Conversely, customers can exert “just in time” influence on production at the hot strip mill. They can enter orders directly in the mill’s IT system in the form of fixed or variable material specifications and obtain information on the internal production process. In 65 percent of cases customers themselves determine when their material is rolled.
The advantages for the customer are clear: Flexibility in scheduling their own orders on the one hand, and the ability to change specifications such as width and thickness until just before production starts on the other. Greater flexibility is difficult to imagine.
For production and logistics at the hot strip mill this is a challenge that requires integration of commercial, administrative, and technical data. The advantages are space and cost savings for the storage of starting materials and finished products, freeing up capital for more productive purposes.