Working with you on sustainable vehicles and value chains
There is no doubt that we are living in the age of disruptive technologies and it is astonishing how fast these developments are adapted into our daily life. Worldwide sales of smartphones have reached 1.5 billion today, whereas less than 200 million smartphones were sold in 20091. The steep increase in sales is mind-blowing, but what is more interesting than the numbers is the effect of smartphones on our life. We can access information on the go, be more productive, do lots of things with the ease of a few touches on the screen and get connected with the rest of the world thanks to the Internet.
Rapid pace of transformation
We are facing a similar transformation, this time on an industrial level across all sectors. The stakes are high that you are already familiar with terms like Industry 4.0, Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), digitalisation, smart manufacturing etc. In essence, today’s machines are discovering “smartphones” like we did about 10 years ago and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is going to change manufacturing irreversibly.
Change is inevitable and it is happening fast. Personally, I have witnessed major developments first-hand since joining Tata Steel about 2 years ago. Early in 2019, our efforts in Advanced Analytics were recognised by World Economic Forum by announcing Tata Steel Europe’s steelmaking plant at IJmuiden in the Netherlands as a ‘Lighthouse’, a distinction awarded to manufacturing facilities which are seen as leaders in the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution2. Just 6 months after that announcement, Tata Steel’s Kalinganagar steelmaking plant in India was added to the network of global lighthouses as an example of greenfield steel plant excelling at digital and analytics solutions3.
Extensive collaboration within the value chain
All of these are exciting developments recognising Tata Steel’s journey in digital transformation. However, we are not limiting our activities with internal improvements only. My role within Tata Steel Europe involves developing new digital services and business models for our customers in the automotive sector. In the last years, I have been in touch with representatives from OEMs, Tiers, machinery/equipment manufacturers, IT companies, universities and research organisations. Despite their varying maturity levels of digital transformation, everyone agrees on the need for collaboration across stakeholders within the value chain to achieve greater benefits of digitalisation.
Data sharing unlocking new possibilities
Let it be order status or material properties, there is immense amount of data which could be used for improvements in supply planning, steel manufacturing, steel forming and many other fields. Even relatively simple solutions like material traceability could unlock a wide range of applications from quality management to circular business models. It is not unrealistic to imagine a seamlessly integrated steel value chain where stakeholders can adapt their operations based on the information exchange. For example, you can think of a steel supplier feeding information about its products to an OEM, so that the OEM can adapt their operations based on the data. The steel supplier would then use the feedback coming from the OEM’s operations to fine-tune manufacturing to improve the product performance at the OEM’s operations. Such an integration cannot be possible without using new technologies.
New technologies shaping the future
My colleagues working for our Digital Innovation Centre (DICe) are experimenting with new technologies such as Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, and many more; so that we can make the best use of these technologies for our customers and our operations. Recently, Tata Steel has announced a partnership with World Economic Forum and leading players in mining and metal industries to explore building of a blockchain platform to address transparency issues, tracking and tracing of materials, reporting of carbon emissions and increasing efficiency. It is exciting times to be involved in this digital transformation.
How do you see the future of the steel value chain?
I am very curious about your view about the future. How do you see the future of the steel value chain? Where are you at your digital transformation journey? Please feel free to use comments section below for an open discussion. If you already have a great idea to share about digital innovations, why not send it to our Open Innovation Platform?
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