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New research enables considerable savings for the steel industry


“The next step concerning proactive maintenance is now taken in close collaboration between Sandvik, SSAB, Ovako and ABB. Considerable savings can be made regarding machines and raw material,” says project manager Niclas Björsell at University of Gävle.


Foto: Anders Wiklund/TT

To a large extent, traditional maintenance builds on principles from the childhood of the steel industry, relying mainly on manual labour and scheduled maintenance tasks. For several years, researchers at University of Gävle have studied machines used in the industry and now they have succeeded in creating algorithms that can be directly applied on existing machinery.

Niclas Björsell

Niclas Björsell

“Now, we can detect in real time if a machine starts to malfunction, signals that would go unnoticed otherwise. This means considerable savings for the plant in question but also for the environment, as raw materials are destroyed when production stops,” Niclas Björsell says.

In the process industries, just as in the paper industry, manufacturing processes are typically long, and if there is a breakdown somewhere in the chain, the whole chain will break down, even if some machines still function well.

“Our perspective is unique as we look at the whole chain. Moreover, our research can be used directly by the industry. We also collaborate with Jernkontoret, Swedish iron and steel producers’ association,” Niclas Björsell says.

Researchers will transfer knowledge to the industry

Muhammad Hassan, a researcher at the University, has been working closely with the industry for several years. Now, he is going to adapt the algorithms for use in existing control and monitoring systems at the plants.

Muhammad Hassan

Muhammad Hassan

“My focus is to adapt our system to enable it to communicate directly with an operator. It is all about speed, otherwise the machine will break down or the delivery will not be of such high quality as you would like it to be,” Muhammad Hassan says.



Costly maintenance

The steel industry’s need for strategies concerning maintenance has increased because of an accelerating pace of change in the business environment. Calculations by Jernkontoret show that the cost of maintenance, or lack of maintenance, is now around 13-14 percent of the market value of steel.

Lars Qvarnström

Lars Qvarnström

“To be given the opportunity to collaborate with University of Gävle and gain access to their knowledge is very valuable to us. In the future, our view is that successful proactive maintenance will create value,” says Lars Qvarnström, development engineer /automation SMT Sandvik.





Text: Douglas Öhrbom


Niclas Björsell, professor in electronics and researcher at University of Gävle
Phone: 026-64 87 95, 076-855 57 88
E-mail: niclas.bjorsell@hig.se

Muhammad Hassan, PhD student at University of Gävle
Phone: 073-890 18 19
E-mail: muhammad.hassan@hig.se

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2022-03-23
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)