Promoting intelligent manufacturing in the steel industry can bring value in many aspects, such as improving service levels, promoting safe production, improving product quality and resource utilization efficiency, saving energy and reducing emissions, reducing production costs, optimizing the labor environment, and improving labor efficiency. Contribute to social issues such as protecting the natural environment, responding to aging, and promoting the free development of people.
Personalized service should be the prerequisite for intelligent manufacturing
As a basic raw material, steel is economically based on large-scale production. However, the uses of steel vary greatly, and the needs of users vary greatly. The contradiction between large-scale production and individual needs has always plagued the steel industry. This not only leads to difficulties in production organization, but also causes problems such as rising costs and inventory, declining yield and quality, and extending delivery times.
“The iron and steel industry promotes intelligent manufacturing. It should not blindly pursue the individualized differences of the products themselves, but should emphasize “mass customization”: that is, to use the same materials as much as possible to meet different user needs, and to integrate different processes as much as possible. Arrange later.
However, it is not easy to implement this idea. First of all, it is necessary to figure out what the user’s essential requirements for materials are. This is to take “personalized service” as the guide and improve its serviceability and complete knowledge accumulation in the service. “Intensive production, personalized service” may be the key direction for the steel industry to promote intelligent manufacturing.
The iron and steel industry can embed CPS into a horizontally integrated and end-to-end integrated information platform to realize intelligent R&D, service, procurement, and sales. In this way, through the sharing of knowledge and information, breaking through the boundaries between departments, realizing fast and effective collaboration, and shortening the distance between the enterprise and customers, it is possible to provide users with tailor-made personalized services. Guo Zhaohui believes that in iron and steel enterprises, it is not only the sales and R&D departments that serve the needs of users but the entire company.
Looking ahead, downstream users will gradually strengthen their requirements for personalized services. The basic driving force will come from two aspects: one is that with the improvement of using automation and intelligence level and the improvement of the quality requirements of final products, the requirements for material quality will definitely increase; the other is that with the continuous development of e-commerce, steel products More and more needs come from small and medium-sized customers, and the traditional service model will become increasingly unsustainable. Therefore, promoting “smart service” is obviously an important direction for the steel industry to realize smart manufacturing.
The increase in labor costs is forcing the development of intelligent manufacturing
Smart manufacturing is a profound industrial revolution and a blue ocean of innovation. However, only with the height of “people-oriented” can we see the whole picture of the blue ocean. Guo Zhaohui believes that the purpose of intelligent manufacturing can be summed up as: “serving people, helping people, replacing people, surpassing people, liberating people, and relying on people.” Promoting intelligent manufacturing can also be attributed to human issues.
In fact, one of the immediate reasons for Germany’s proposal of “Industry 4.0” is that aging makes its manufacturing industry less competitive, and it is necessary to extend the working age and attract young people through technological means.
In China, the problem is equally serious. With the arrival of the “Lewis Turning Point”, labor costs have risen sharply; in 2012, the total labor force began to decrease, followed by China’s entry into the “new normal” of medium-to-high-speed development. In recent years, while facing a market downturn, capital, environmental protection, and other pressures, iron and steel enterprises have clearly felt rising labor costs, hard-to-find cooperative workers, unstable teams, declining employee engagement, difficult management, frequent safety accidents, and poor product quality. stability issues. Recently, many experts have pointed out that getting old before getting rich may lead China into a “middle-income trap”.
International competition has put forward higher requirements for the steel industry
At present, Pohang’s per capita steel production is more than twice the average value of this indicator for Chinese steel companies. Although wages in China are lower, the total labor cost is very close. As China’s labor costs rise further, the pressure on Chinese steel companies will increase.
However, the current differences in labor efficiency between China and South Korea are mainly caused by economic factors. As labor costs increase, Chinese steel companies will also adopt technologies such as robots, unmanned vehicles, unmanned trolleys, and unmanned warehouses to improve labor efficiency and reduce production costs. Technically, none of these are inherently difficult.