For the sixth time in three years, steel industry engineers and process professionals from across North America, and from otherwise competitive companies, came together at Purdue Northwest’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) for two days of collaboration on technical research to broadly advance steel industry safety, process and energy efficiency, and product quality. The event was the Fall 2018 Annual Meeting of the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium (SMSVC), held November 14 – 15, 2018, at Purdue Northwest’s Hammond campus and attended by nearly 40 representatives from the 11 member companies that currently comprise the Consortium.
Highlights new to this Fall’s event included a first-day, morning tour of ArcelorMittal’s Riverdale plant, a reception and dinner at PNW’s Room With a View, and an invited dinner talk by PNW Professor Harvey Abramowitz on “Visualizing the Ternary Phase Diagram.” Highlights constant to the event agenda—though always full of new data—included the SMSVC Overview and Updates, from SMSVC and CIVS Director Dr. Chenn Zhou, and the seven research project technical presentations, delivered by student researchers and assessed by their industry collaborators and counterparts. Along with delivering the technical presentations, students also engaged with the entire assembly in question-and-answer sessions that helped refine and identify both actual and potential research gains.
The SMSVC’s seven ongoing research project topic areas—safety training, blast furnace, electric arc furnace, primary cooling for casting, secondary cooling for casting, steel refining ladle, and reheating furnace—emerged along with the SMSVC itself, through a series of 2014 workshops funded by a U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) grant, to leverage the capabilities of visualization and simulation technologies to optimize and troubleshoot steel manufacturing processes.
The SMSVC itself was officially launched in 2016 with a mission “to develop and implement innovative technical solutions through advanced simulation and visualization technologies to ensure a competitive advantage for U.S. steel manufacturing.” Early examples of implemented technological advancements and consequent cost-saving benefits are already documented in the SMSVC’s recently published Technology Roadmap (August 2018), which also charts promising research directions for the future.
Consensus from SMSVC attendees on the latest research presentations was, “Impressive progress has been made on several extraordinarily difficult and complex modeling tasks. As some of these are very long-term projects, you [students] may well look back, years from now, and see how your research helped to shift, and optimize, an entire industry process. Once again, we thank you for your determination, and your bravery.”