27 November 2020

New technologies make steel smarter – what does it mean for the automotive industry?

Digitalisation lady in AV blog
Serkan Sarioglu
Customer Engagement Manager

In my previous blog I gave an overview of latest developments in digitalisation. This time, I’d like to discuss more in detail about implications of new technologies on the steel value chain within automotive.

More data becoming available
Today, there is limited information available to OEMs and Tiers about the material they are using. New sensors, measurement devices, camera inspection systems and cloud computing make it easier to collect data along the length of the material. At Tata Steel, my colleagues have been busy in the past years to launch the Material Data to Cloud (MDC) project. Thanks to this initiative, we will soon be able to share material information along the length of steel coils. Having so much data available may sound great, but what is it that you are trying to achieve with data?

What to do with data?
As a general thumb of rule, data alone does not mean much. Sure, it is nice to know more about a material, but is it enough? The key is to make use of data in a way that will help the business to achieve its goals. What is your primary goal? Is it quality, cost, speed or something else? Whatever it is, there needs to be a clearly defined goal so that relevant algorithms can be developed to support your cause.

There isn’t a magic box
Although the idea of having data being analysed by some advanced analytics techniques to develop algorithms sounds appealing, you may need to support such initiatives with physical material models in order to get better results. This is where material expertise meets advanced analytics. Our colleagues at R&D are looking at how to make best use of material data to improve manufacturing processes at our customers. This requires a close collaboration between all stakeholders, where each party brings their expertise to the table.

Material traceability
Having material data along the length of a steel coil sounds great, but how are you going to link the digital information to physical locations on a coil? Surprisingly, the answer lies right in front of us on the supermarket shelves. Barcodes have been there for decades, yet thanks to recent developments now it’s possible to print barcodes on a steel coil with regular intervals such as a meter or less. These barcodes are also useful to improve existing quality systems at OEMs and Tiers. Each part can now be traced back to a specific location in a coil, rather than a coil number.

Faster (remote) technical assistance
Barcodes can be used in variety of ways. One simple yet effective way of using barcodes is in claim management. If a customer can add the barcode number during a claim process, relevant investigations can be done much faster. This will result in faster claim handling thanks to the location specific material & production data available at Tata Steel.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 pandemic has made us all realise that we need new ways of working. Augmented Reality has been used for remote maintenance for a while, but we could expect more and more companies adapting such practices especially because of the current restrictions. 

Technology for the sake of business
There are many other ways in which new technologies may help us achieve our business goals. It sounds straight-forward, yet it is not uncommon to witness companies getting lost in the ocean of these new technologies. It’s important to remember that technology is just a tool to help us achieve our goals. So, what is it that you are trying to solve with your digital transformation projects?

Are you interested in more information?
Feel free to contact us to discuss how we can support you and don’t forget to join our webinar about Tata Steel’s digitalisation strategy!

Sign up here 

for our webinar on 8th December!