From traditional industries to digital pioneers, Schneider Electric empowers green steel



Dec 8, 2023

  Steel is one of the most commonly used metal materials in global industry over the past two centuries, and its presence can be seen in almost all infrastructure, especially key components. As a typical traditional industry, the steel industry not only plays an extremely important role in the development process of modern industrial society, but also creates a large number of direct employment opportunities. As the core foundation of China’s industrial industry, the steel industry has made irreplaceable contributions to the vigorous development of the national economy.

  However, in recent years, traditional steel enterprises have increasingly faced various challenges in their production and operation processes, such as complex production processes, increased links and equipment, redundant data, and high carbon emissions. This has led to a decrease in production energy efficiency and increased environmental pressure, while also limiting the automation, informatization, intelligence, and green level of steel enterprises. According to data from the World Iron and Steel Association, the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the steel industry during production account for nearly 8% of the total, ranking second among all emission sources, only behind the power generation industry.

  Under the background of “dual carbon”, green development of the industrial chain has become a trend of the times, and more and more traditional and mature industries are prioritizing sustainable development, including the steel industry. Developing appropriate decarbonization plans, combined with innovative digital technologies and advanced green and low-carbon technologies, is increasingly becoming a “problem-solving path” for various industries. Among them, steel enterprises should play a leading role by accelerating their own digital and green low-carbon dual transformation, recasting their core competitiveness, and strengthening close cooperation with upstream and downstream enterprises to jointly promote the entire industry chain to accelerate its transformation towards high-end, intelligent, and green, ultimately achieving net zero emissions.

  Seize the five new technological opportunities and promote the comprehensive development of green steel

  The traditional blast furnace steelmaking technology requires the use of a large amount of coke to produce refined steel products. This production process was widely regarded as highly economical for a long time in the past, but in reality, it lacks a “green gene”. With the increasing call for green environmental protection and sustainable development in society, green steel products have gradually become a breakthrough point and business growth point for steel enterprises and upstream and downstream industrial chains.

  New technological innovation has brought development opportunities for green steel. Leading steel companies in the industry are anchoring their “dual carbon” goals and actively exploring the application scenarios of new technologies. From establishing pilot factories to verify new technologies and production methods, to conducting relevant employee training, they will take five specific measures to promote their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Among them:

  Shift from traditional coal to using biomass as a reducing agent and fuel

  Optimize blast furnace (BOF) efficiency, reduce production energy consumption and process losses

  Adopting a more environmentally friendly electric arc furnace (EAF) to increase the recycling rate of scrap steel

  Utilizing carbon capture technology to improve the recycling efficiency of carbon in chemical industry production

  Improve technologies with low environmental impact, such as hydrogen based direct reduction of iron, to promote their large-scale commercial application

  This series of measures aimed at carbon reduction and decarbonization will help the steel industry reduce its own carbon footprint, and with the continuous innovation and iteration of technology, especially high-tech such as direct reduction of iron, it will also bring more significant green benefits. In addition, based on the opportunities brought by new technologies, enterprises can also collaborate with upstream and downstream partners in the industrial chain to build a large-scale green steel ecosystem in a more scientific and economical way.

  In addition to breakthroughs in decarbonization technology, steel companies have also become increasingly aware that in order to further improve production efficiency, optimize decision-making efficiency, and enhance business resilience, they need to use interconnected products to efficiently manage their own production processes, and break through data silos through advanced software platforms to unleash data value. In addition, the key to transitioning from “traditional” to digital, green, and low-carbon is the need for professional and applicable full lifecycle solutions and services from top-level planning to implementation.

  Implementing both software and hardware throughout the entire lifecycle to continuously inject intelligent green vitality into the steel industry

  As a global expert in digital transformation in energy management and automation, Schneider Electric is committed to promoting safe, green, transparent, and efficient value implementation based on its own practice, aiming to continuously empower digital transformation in various industries. Based on years of technical accumulation and practical experience in the steel industry, Schneider Electric will provide digital solutions for the steel industry, covering asset management, energy management, intelligent logistics, comprehensive control, and digital material yards, throughout the entire life cycle of enterprise design, construction, operation, and maintenance, to help improve its capabilities in automation control, efficient operation, safety and reliability, energy conservation and carbon reduction.

  Relying on the EcoStruxure architecture and platform, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure factory solution will accelerate the green and intelligent transformation of the steel industry through IT/OT integration from three aspects: interconnected products, edge control, application, analysis, and service:

  In terms of automation control systems, Schneider Electric relies on industrial Internet of Things boxes, industrial PCs, programmable automation controllers Modicon M580, control experts, SCADA systems, and other edge control layer core products, combined with interconnected products such as frequency converters, modular low-voltage frequency converters, and medium voltage system frequency converters, to help steel enterprises build a full lifecycle automation control system.

  In terms of automation upgrade services, based on leading digital technology and professional industrial software and hardware products, Schneider Electric’s professional service team can provide automation upgrade services covering the entire lifecycle of early upgrade consulting, implementation and execution, and later operation and maintenance.

  In terms of digital intelligence, Schneider Electric provides end-to-end green intelligent manufacturing solutions from group control to production sites, from planning to implementation, covering two major directions: promoting digital transformation through intelligent transformation and digital transformation, and promoting sustainable development through dual carbon implementation. Schneider Electric builds a professional and suitable digital architecture for steel enterprises, including consulting on digital transformation planning and sustainable development, From the AVEVA APC advanced process control system, IACS unmanned driving system, predictive maintenance system and other digital optimization, to the AVEVA UOC integrated operation center, and then to the industrial PLC and other control layers, we assist customers in achieving unmanned and intelligent operation, ensuring safe operation and reducing energy consumption to improve investment returns.

  Schneider Electric’s digital solution for the steel industry is based on a full lifecycle approach that combines software and hardware, serving numerous steel enterprises to achieve green and intelligent transformation. Among them, around the “One Body, Two Wings, and Multiple Bases” construction project of Liugang Group, Schneider Electric has deployed a digital solution composed of AVEVA system platform, AVEVA InTouch HMI human-machine interface, Modicon series PLC and frequency converter, etc., to help Liugang Group achieve operational standardization and visualization in multiple projects and process sections such as raw material plants, sintering, pelletizing, and coking, improving operational efficiency. In addition, taking “unmanned driving” as an example, since 2016, Schneider Electric and Baosteel have carried out comprehensive cooperation to jointly create an unmanned driving project for the hot rolling workshop. The project has successfully promoted the overall digital upgrading and intelligent management innovation of the enterprise, and also provided reference and reference for the comprehensive transformation of the steel industry; In terms of energy management, Schneider Electric has also customized digital energy management solutions for many customers, successfully achieving energy cost control by measuring, controlling, and optimizing all energy media in steel enterprises. In terms of asset management, Schneider Electric has also collaborated with a steel power plant on the APC project of a gas pressurization station, effectively improving the reliability and performance of the company’s equipment assets. While reducing unplanned downtime, it has achieved maximum investment return.

  Based on the “dual carbon” goal, green and low-carbon have become a necessary path for the steel industry, which is one of the energy intensive industries. It is also a powerful guarantee for steel enterprises to enhance their business resilience and sustainable development capabilities, and cope with many uncertainties in the future. Schneider Electric will promote the development of green steel based on its profound understanding of the steel industry and years of accumulated experience in digital transformation. With consulting services from top-level planning to implementation, as well as comprehensive software and hardware products and digital technology, Schneider Electric will work together with partners to build a green ecosystem for the steel industry and promote high-quality development of the industry.
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