Making the steel industry greener

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1.89 tons, that’s the amount of carbon per produced ton of steel according to the World Steel Association. As if that were not enough, a lot of CO2 is even produced for nothing – waste generated within the reinforcement steel manufacturing processes is estimated to be between 4% and 8%.

Steel manufacturers all over the world are facing challenges from the initial design stages to disruptions in schedules that often force them to readapt their production, which leads to higher costs in terms of energy and resources. Existing solutions and processes consist of manual workflows, relying on spreadsheets and costly software that does not handle the complexity of the manufacturing process adequately.

How to make all stages of rebar steel manufacturing greener – from the mill to the bar?

That’s the research question of the project “Re-imagining Design & Planning for Greener Reinforcement Steel Manufacturing” (DPGSM). Optimised planning and designing for off-site modular manufacturing will lead to a new way for how buildings are designed and constructed. The goal: reducing carbon emissions in steel manufacturing.

DPGSM project partners

From left to right: Frode Kjøsnes, Wolfgang Kniejski, Peter Robertson, Richard Jackson, Brian Cooney, Chris Wilson, Ruth Kearney, Rune André Haugland, Caitríona Mordan, Christian Bölling, Miguel Gorriz

To reach this goal, the project partners will introduce a new concept of standardisation, thus facilitating scalable volumes which can be forecast and produced offsite as standardised modular prefabricated sections reducing waste significantly. Moreover, they will use an innovative patented building information modelling (BIM) process as well as artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimise the planning process.

Midland Steel leads the project with industry partners from robotics, software, civil engineering design and research on this two-year project to drive sustainability within the sector. The other project partners are Bastal AS, Kuka, Nightingale HQ, O’Connor, Sutton, Cronin (OCSC) and VTT. EIT Manufacturing supports this activity as part of its innovation projects portfolio.

“EIT Manufacturing aims to accelerate innovation and thus help meet Europe’s ambitious climate goals. Projects like this one that look to transform steel production and the construction industry are essential”

Christian Bölling, Director EIT Manufacturing Central
Christian Bölling - Managing Director EIT Manufacturing CentralChristian Bölling - Managing Director EIT Manufacturing Central

Stunning insights into the rebar manufacturing

During the project meeting, which took place in Mountmellick, Ireland at the end of June 2023, the project partners had the chance to visit the Midland Steel facilities. There, the new solution FasterFix was presented in a breathtaking demonstration: after the installation of the 10-tonne rebar cage on the ground, it was lifted in front of the eyes of the project partners.

Modular rebar solution FasterFix-Midland Steel

Demonstration of the modular rebar solution FasterFix

Another highlight was the welding robot from KUKA – the world’s first welding cell for rebar in diameters up to 50 mm. Not only does this initiative boost environmental sustainability, but it also has a relevant social impact, as former welders have been reskilled to become robot technicians, a relevant skillset for today’s European labour market. Thus, their work places have become safer and their work more varied.

KUKA welding robot

Welding robot at Midland Steel

“We want to close the gap between the real needs of steel manufacturing and the planning and design processes to deliver more sustainable, greener modular steel manufacturing. This is an opportunity to do something different and bring about real change. This project brings cutting-edge processes and technological solutions together to achieve this.”

Tony Woods, CEO Midland Steel
Tony Woods - Midland SteelTony Woods - Midland Steel

Our contribution to sustainable innovation

At EIT Manufacturing we support European manufacturing companies and tech organisations in launching and industrialising breakthrough solutions with high business growth potential.

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