One Word for Steel's Future? Wired.
“By the end of the next decade, it’s going to be a connected world in the steel industry, all the way from suppliers through to customers,” said Richard Oppelt, a principal director with strategy and consulting firm Accenture.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the 32nd annual Steel Survival Strategies conference in New York, N.Y., USA, Oppelt presented a vision of the steel mills of tomorrow.
“Digital solutions are going to impact every aspect of the steel plant,” Oppelt said.
For instance, he said distribution will change as it will be possible to track individual pieces of steel all the way from casting to final stamping and assembly. Production, too, will evolve, he said, because steelmakers, as a matter of survival, will have to be fully digitized to keep up with new entrants like Big River Steel.
He also said digital technologies will help make steel plants safer.
“In the area of training, I think there are tremendous strides that can be made,” he said.
“When I look at safety videos and training that’s provided to many of the workers, quite candidly, it’s deplorable. I think the next step in safety is going to come by having better simulations and being able to better enable workers before they even step out on the platform.”
Of course, that assumes there are workers left in the mills as autonomous machines will play a greater role in daily operations.
“There aren’t going to be forklift drivers in many plants. It will be all autonomous,” he said.