How will the steel industry be benefited from 5G?

In the process of transforming from “manufacturing” to “intelligent manufacturing”, connection is the prerequisite for the digital transformation of factories and the key to achieving deep interconnection of all elements and links. To break through this key link, the application of 5G technology is imperative. Relying on 5G technology, the steel industry is transforming from traditional production methods to informatization, intelligence, and automation. With the advent of the era of technological integration such as 5G, AI, and cloud computing, the steel industry is ushering in a gorgeous upgrade.


The value enhancement of 5G to the steel industry


In the steel production process, raw materials go through production processes such as coking and sintering, coking, ironmaking, steelmaking, and steel rolling in sequence, forming semi-finished products and finished products such as molten iron, molten steel, and steel billets. The key processes, core technologies, and production environments of different workshops vary greatly.

In the traditional steel production process, there are some problems that need to be overcome urgently. For example, if a large amount of materials are transferred between different workshops, warehouses and stockyards via cranes, how to ensure safe and efficient transportation is a difficult problem. With the improvement of process quality requirements, how to improve steel quality and quality control precision is also quite challenging; and the basic production equipment For heavy equipment, how to early warn of the risk of equipment failure is also a challenge.

Steel companies collect key data by installing sensors on different moving lines. Boilers, ladles, etc. are often in extremely high temperatures and black box environments. Sensors must be transmitted wirelessly to achieve real-time transmission of large amounts of data. Therefore, deploying an exclusive 5G virtual private network in the steel industry park is the optimal solution.

The above model is a private network service model provided by operators for users in delay-sensitive industries. Through flexible customization of multi-frequency collaboration, carrier aggregation, super uplink, edge node, QoS enhancement, wireless resource reservation, DNN, slicing and other technologies, It provides enterprise users with a private network with enhanced bandwidth, low latency, and local data offloading, and cooperates with MEC and cloud computing to maximize the advantages of cloud-edge synergy and empower enterprise users’ digital applications.


Key scenarios of 5G solutions in the steel industry


In the past two years, through continuous exploration, the industry has determined the path of “gradually injecting 5G capabilities from peripheral production monitoring and control to core production control.” More than 10 application scenarios have been hatched so far, among which the most widely used typical scenarios include 5G Remote control crane/unmanned crane, “5G+AI” steel watch quality inspection, “5G+AR” remote assistance and inspection, 5G high-definition video surveillance, etc.


5G remote control crane/unmanned crane

Connect cranes, industrial robots, etc. through 5G private networks to achieve remote control. The large bandwidth and low latency provided by 5G private network can meet business needs with high quality, while also reducing wiring costs.

In this scenario, the one-way delay of video return is less than 25ms, the one-way delay of remote control crane PLC is less than 25ms, and the uplink bandwidth of high-definition video backhaul of remote control crane is about 120Mbit/s per day.


“5G+AI” steel watch quality inspection

Automatic detection of steel surface quality is realized through “5G end pipe cloud + AI”. The central training platform completes the defect detection model training and pushes it to the 5G MEC edge cloud. At the same time, the images captured by the industrial cameras are transmitted to the edge cloud through the 5G network, and then image analysis and defect determination are performed. Inspection images can be further backed up to the central cloud for subsequent tracing.

Steel surface quality inspection is difficult to identify steel defects (non-defects such as iron oxide scale, slag marks, and watermarks are very similar to defects such as cracks, vibration marks, and indentations), and requires extremely small target detection (defects such as holes and indentations) (large number and small proportion in the whole steel plate image), the image accuracy requirements are extremely high; at the same time, industrial camera images require high fidelity and a very small compression ratio (3~4 times), so image transmission requires high bandwidth – surface After the quality inspection project is compressed by 4 times, the uplink bandwidth still requires 540Mbit/s, which can reach 2Gbit/s in extreme scenarios.


“5G+AR” remote assistance and inspection

Metallurgical equipment is all heavy equipment, and it maintains dynamic operation for a long time in actual production. In case of unplanned shutdown, property losses or major production accidents are prone to occur. “5G+AR” can significantly reduce service costs, improve complex scene maintenance capabilities and information transmission efficiency, and also provide predictive maintenance and other industry applications.

5G’s large bandwidth supports the transmission and downloading of high-definition videos, large-volume AR content, and file data without loss of details. The uplink bandwidth requires 40Mbit/s. At the same time, in order to achieve edge computing and rapid return of calculation results, the two-way delay is required to be less than 40ms. Figure 3 shows the “5G+AR” remote assistance and inspection application scenario.


5G HD video production line monitoring

Steel companies have extremely high requirements for production safety, and the on-site working environment requires real-time monitoring with high-definition cameras. This scenario has extremely high requirements for upstream bandwidth. The upstream bandwidth of 8-megapixel surveillance video can reach up to 40Mbit/s.

5G is deeply integrated with the industry, and the application development of 5G private networks has entered the deep water zone. While creating various gratifying results, the development of 5G private networks still faces many challenges. The 5G private network industry chain from standards, equipment, and terminals to services is evolving. Rapidly developing but not yet mature, the industry chain needs to actively carry out integration exploration.

Source of the article: Communications World – “Analysis of Key Scenarios and Characteristics of 5G Solutions in the Steel Industry”

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