With the ever-faster and ever-increasing integration of digital data and functionalities, the vision of an intelligent, self-learning steelworks is no longer just a distant dream. The global trend towards digitalisation is affording Paul Wurth the opportunity to expand our product range with individual solutions developed jointly with the customer, thereby adding value.
As well as expanding our digital skills, a large part of our efforts has recently been devoted to setting up the platform infrastructure to be the backbone of our digital solutions. Paul Wurth’s Xpert Cloud has been set up and applications such as AIXpert and RulesXpert have been introduced to the market. These DATAXpert solutions do not only address our traditional customers in steelmaking, but are meant to support process engineers and plant operators of very diverse industrial sectors in optimising their processes.
Paul Wurth is working intensively on developing connected products, giving its equipment intelligence by means of embedded systems with sensors and the use of AI and mobile dashboard displays. Smart staves, for example, are already in operation at customers’ facilities. This increased functionality helps to detect wear early and enables the operator to take countermeasures in the blast furnace.
In terms of connected processes, we are deploying our high-performance range of Xpert operator guidance systems (BFXpert, CokeXpert, SinterXpert) to optimise and improve customers’ processes. This is another area in which Paul Wurth is constantly working on further developing autonomous, intelligent modules that can be marketed as “software as a service”.
With our Xpert systems, the skills of our data analysts and the know-how of our process experts, Paul Wurth is offering new-generation connected services that can, for example, be paid for based on the “performance as a service” principle. By integrating control systems in real time, coupled with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, we are already able to put into practice the concept of smart maintenance for the functional extension of Bell Less Top charging systems, slag granulation plants , pulverised coal injection plants and other proprietary equipment. One of the aims is to offer the operator predictive maintenance solutions in order to optimise the life cycle costs of components.
In addition to setting up digital interfaces, which simplify the daily information exchange with the customer, state-of-the-art technologies in augmented and virtual reality are opening up new, virtual remote communication opportunities, in services, in commissioning and in training.
For our digital solutions, we are convinced that Paul Wurth has a rather unique position, combining 150 years of knowledge in mechanical equipment design, proven process expertise and digital skills. We deeply know the processes for which we offer optimisation solutions. In addition, we can count on the close cooperation with our mother company SMS group when formulating uniform concepts and creating new business models.