JFE Steel looks to IoT to connect factories

JFE Steel looks to IoT to connect factories

The world’s fifth largest steel maker, JFE Steel, has announced a move to standardise its core platform across all factories, using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect facilities and improve efficiency.

Nikkei reports that JFE expects that the new implementation will soon give sales staff extra information regarding specific products. The company has stated that order delivery times could be reduced by up to 30 percent, with production costs falling by up to 10 percent for some items.

JFE Steel, which currently relies on individual systems at each of its steel mills, will develop an operating system for all of its Japanese facilities. The company hopes that connected database will shorten production times, reduce waiting times for order delivery, and detect equipment failure faster.

It’s expected that JFE Holdings will spend around 70 billion yen ($652 million) by 2022 to consolidate its computer systems. The incorporation of an overarching IoT strategy will be the company’s biggest revamp since its founding in 2003 through the merger between NKK and Kawasaki Steel.

JFE steel seeks to harness power of IoT

A single database will allow engineers to manage and track information from multiple plants, applying big data analytics to shorten production times and improve quality. Four steel mills in Chiba, Kanagawa, Okayama and Hiroshima, as well as a steel pipe plant in Aichi, will be managed together. In the past, differing procedures have made it difficult to coordinate between sites. Moving forwards, successful process improvements in one steel mill can be applied to another with ease.

In an industry where production needs to be carefully managed, an integrated system will enhance the flexibility to respond to supply-demand changes.

Read More: Honeywell launches industrial IoT business unit

Steelmakers have analysed sensor-collected data since the 1980s to improve quality and productivity. Having said that, restrictions in data processing and transmission have made it difficult to coordinate operations across multiple sites. JFE now sees an opportunity, through using the IoT, to better tap into these areas to boost efficiency.

JFE has not said if it will bring the same operating system to its other steel ventures, which include California Steel, Fujian Sino-Japan in China, and Minas de Serra Geral in Brazil.