Australias AME Research has developed an online engineering-project evaluation platform that includes a granular cost breakdown for each individual global steel mill. The research platforms models provide insights into competition analysis, as well as providing detailed information about slag and energy consumption rates. It is currently being used by steel producers and suppliers in North America and Asia as well as by companies and investors reviewing steel projects for investment opportunities.
The improved costings analysis that is possible with this platform could be used by steel mills to drive initiatives to improve their performance. For example, it could help them to determine their raw material sourcing requirements by assessing their iron and coal feeds and to help them make efficient blend decisions to drive up their utilization rates.
The platform is also able to give potential investors greater insight into the actual cost breakdowns and to provide them with the greater granularity that they need to identify a steel assets net present value (NPV).
Several US and Chinese steel producers, including Baosteel, have used AME Researchs new platform to identify the individual blend requirements for certain steel products, therefore letting them optimize feed specifications. Doing so has resulted in about a 5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and utilization rate improvements ranging from 5 to 20%.
AME engineering models have also helped US companies to compare their position on the cost curve with that of Chinese operations, as well as to identify what they need to do to be more competitive. One way that they could do this is by identifying actual electricity purchasing rates and to push for discounts from the US electricity grid to help them to reduce costs.
Over the past year Quintiq, based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, made several key improvements to its supply chain planning software, specifically in its hot casting and rolling solutions for steel manufacturers. It included path optimization for hot charging, allowing steelmakers to achieve greater efficiencies in this energy-intensive operation, while also allowing companies to lower their energy cost and carbon dioxide emissions and to increase their throughput.
Since 1997 Quintiq has been providing steel, aluminium, copper and zinc companies with an adaptive and flexible commercial off-the-shelf software package. Over that timeframe its software has seen tremendous growth, with more than 500 implementations in over 80 countries, earning Quintiq much recognition, including Frost & Sullivans Global Customer Value Award, and being included in the Supply and Demand Chain Top 100, Deloittes Best Managed Companies, and being named as one of the best places to work in Philadelphia.
Its new hot casting solution includes end-to-end visibility, giving planners the ability to monitor the entire production process and to intervene when disruptions occur. This is because the system gives them insight into the quality of the schedule, allowing them to mitigate issues before it is too late. The planners can also adjust schedules as needed in the event of a machine breakdown, resource shortage or when a heat of steel is missing its target chemical composition.
Also, the solutions dynamic sequencing capabilities, coupled with input from experienced planners, helps them to keep process disruptions and production delays to a minimum, enabling steelmakers to produce slabs, for example, on time.
Quintiq solutions help companies to improve productivity and to limit production bottlenecks through the creation of more efficient scheduling. That, in turn, results in lower production costs and increases the steelmakers profitability and competitiveness.
As integrating casting and hot rolling processes might not be suitable for all steel mills, the Quintiq solution gives the producer the option to manage one or both of those processes. Quintiq has also improved its order combiner to allow companies to create additional value by increasing average coil sizes, improving productivity and increasing utilization and yield, which is very helpful with steel orders becoming increasingly specialized.