POSCO will seek new growth engines this year, being the 50th anniversary of the giant steel maker, along with moves to turn itself into a “smart” steel maker. The steel maker will boost the competitive power of its affiliates in such industries as energy, construction and petrochemicals, incorporating ICT and other technologies from the 4th Industrial Revolution under its massive plan.
POSCO ICT needs to help its parent company navigate the global steel industry and establish a strong foundation for the future. As a result, POSCO ICT is optimizing existing factory operations to maximize its limited IT budget and better monitor the production process. POSCO ICT also wanted to improve management and quality assurance by taking full advantage of the large amount of data it receives from its production processes and facility.
Above all, the steel maker will speed up a “smart factory” project mixing Big Data and AI with environmentally friendly factory process, while the plant takes up around 60 percent of the world’s premium steel products, with super-high steel quality and high value-added products in its steel output.
One example is monitoring a rolling mill. POSCO’s Smart Factory houses rolling mills with IoT sensors, which collect data for analysis. These pieces of equipment are crucial to the steelmaking process they take semi-finished slabs and flatten and elongate them.
The Smart Factory analyzes the data, and automatically sends out directions to control settings for an optimized operating environment. Whenever the sensors detect abnormal signals, operators can zoom in and inspect its whereabouts.
If there is a case where external support is needed, the Smart Factory takes into account the skills of the workers on site and evaluates what is needed. 3D blueprints examine facilities for enhanced efficiency, using virtual simulation to study the facility from the inside-out. The Smart Factory is all-encompassing: not only does this system cover the actual machinery of POSCO’s steel manufacturing through the IoT and artificial intelligence, but also highly-tuned wearables that ensure workplace safety.
Smart technology is not something new to POSCO, as it has embraced the IoT to create safer workplaces in the past.
The Smart Factory takes POSCO’s already-firm hold over smart manufacturing technologies and applies it to a broader purpose. Enhancing facilities by making them smarter not only helps workers, but improves the product overall.
How exactly does this Smart Factory work With the Smart Factory, POSCO can identify any defects during the production process prior to the final stages of the operation.
The system carefully examines each product from start to finish, monitoring raw materials from initialization to checking the state of a nearly-finished product entering a blast furnace.
In the chance that a defect does manifest, the Smart Factory scans the products to diagnose the problem. As a program meant to learn, the operation determines the exact cause of the defect, taking into account how to prevent it from occurring again in the future. The most interesting ingredient in POSCO’s Smart Factory is artificial intelligence which is utilized to create an optimized environment without human interference.
AI allows the facility to be able to conduct inspections throughout the facility, independently assessing issues and automatically assigning solutions given the available information. It is one of the elements that contribute to the unique nature of the Smart Factory.POSCO’s Smart Factory model incorporates managing employee safety in smarter ways.
Sensors are installed in the workplace to pick up on any harmful stray gases, noises and temperatures, and notify operators of threats. They also look out for people working on site, monitoring and alerting employees in situations where they might be close to hazardous objects.