Arania S.A. - SPAIN
The movement of raw materials is one of the most dangerous things that can be done in a rolled steel production line. In addition, the movement of raw materials involves a series of inefficiencies in the process that often result in unnecessary movements and loss of time and, therefore, productivity. On the other hand, steel rolling is a non-serial process, although it is often repetitive, which means that on many occasions the movement of erroneous raw materials leads to stock and storage problems, which means an added problem for controlling the raw material itself. In these factories where the raw material plays a crucial role, having the exact type of raw material to transform, in the exact amount needed, is critical for the process stability, and sometime the main problem that production managers may face during the production process of rolled steel.
The project implemented at Arania is a three-phase project consisting of a digitalisation of the plant, mainly in terms of warehouses, means of material movement and production cells; generation of an algorithm that simulates the behaviour of the factory and the movement of materials; automation of the means of movement. With these actions, what has been achieved is that the system, governed by an AI that is capable of monitoring in real time the needs for raw materials in the different production processes and the stock of raw materials in the warehouses, is capable of launching and executing through the automated means of movement, orders for the movement of raw materials that allow the process to have the necessary materials at all times, both in type and quality, as well as in quantity, to avoid unnecessary stops in production. In this sense, the AI will anticipate the needs of the process before they occur, trying to maintain a continuous flow and acting proactively based on the needs in real time, and not reactively, based on past events. In addition, with the implementation of this intelligent and automated warehouse and raw materials movement system, it has been possible to increase safety at workplace by eliminating the need for suspended loads in personnel areas and, in turn, substantially reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in operations. Finally, the automation itself has freed up a number of resources in the materials handling process that can be now assigned to other operations that add value to the process, resulting in increased volumes and flexibility without the need to increase direct costs.