Air quality is forcing China’s stockyards indoors: AI’s smoothing the move

Managing steel stocks more efficiently is essential as steel ups its environmental game in China

A knock-on consequence of air quality legislation in China’s urban centres has been the moving of iron and steel stockyards into indoor facilities instead of traditional outdoor locations. And with space now at a premium, industrial firms are upgrading their systems to better manage stockyards and increase production capacity.

One such company is the Jiangsu Binxin Special Steel Material Co. Ltd, known locally as Binxin Steel. With a move to indoor stockyards, Binxin decided to upgrade its plant intelligence by moving to an innovative autonomous stockyard management system from Siemens. This also has the advantage of overcoming the challenge of hiring and retaining skilled workers and engineers, while simultaneously providing continuous, safe, secure, and reliable operations. This project is a first step towards upgrading of the company’s plant intelligence. According to Siemens, the project will offer higher performance, increased accuracy, full utilisation of the stockyard area, and optimised energy consumption compared to staffed operation

To optimise throughput times and guarantee requested quality output, storage and transport systems are an important part of advanced facilities for the transfer of bulk materials such as ore, coal and flux. Siemens’ advanced automation solutions secure autonomous operation of the end customers’ stackers and reclaimers, reducing operational costs and achieving a smoother and safer operation with less wear and tear on the mechanical parts of the equipment.

A core element of the management system is the stockyard 3D model with a record of both quantity and quality of materials. The model is updated regularly with data delivered by stackers and reclaimers. This means customers such as Binxin Steel also benefit from higher safety as no operators is needed at the machines: after working area and parameters for each job are specified, the details are calculated automatically and approved by the control centre – then the job is transferred to the machines. The rest is automatic. To prevent collisions between machines and other objects and constructions, and therefore equipment outages, the stockyard machine comes with a protection system that uses data which were delivered by sensors.

The Siemens technology was implemented by Zhongye Changtian International Engineering Co., Ltd. (CIE).

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