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posted by janrinok on Tuesday December 20 2022, @03:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the worthy-of-their-steel dept.

A cutting-edge U.S. Steel mill in Arkansas is using AI tools in production, but implementing that tech know-how in century-old plants hasn't been easy:

At a U.S. Steel Corp. mill on the Mississippi River, an automated crane lifts and lowers 1,000-degree hot steel coils into open squares, using a machine-learning algorithm to calculate the optimal spot for each coil to quickly cool down before it is shipped off.

This automated steel-coil yard, laid out like a giant chess board, is one of many advanced-technology operations at Big River Steel, a six-year-old plant in Osceola, Ark., that was built with the goal of harnessing cutting-edge tech to save energy, time and money.

When U.S. Steel took full ownership of Big River last year, it also gained the plant's artificial intelligence know-how and was a signal of the 120-year-old manufacturing giant's commitment to advancing technology in its mills. But implementing the type of technology in use at Big River in the steelmaker's other mills, some of which are over 100 years old, has proven a difficult task, according to the company's chief information officer.

[...] U.S. Steel recently began offering digital training to non-IT employees, including machine operators who spend their time on the ground in the mill. Mr. Holliday said U.S. Steel is on track to meet its goal of having 100 employees trained as "digital agents" by the end of 2022.

Related: 'Green Steel': Swedish Company Ships First Batch Made Without Using Coal


Original Submission

Related Stories

‘Green Steel’: Swedish Company Ships First Batch Made Without Using Coal 18 comments

'Green steel': Swedish company ships first batch made without using coal:

The world's first customer delivery of "green steel" produced without using coal is taking place in Sweden, according to its manufacturer.

The Swedish venture Hybrit said it was delivering the steel to truck-maker Volvo AB as a trial run before full commercial production in 2026. Volvo has said it will start production in 2021 of prototype vehicles and components from the green steel.

Steel production using coal accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrit started test operations at its pilot plant for green free steel in Lulea, northern Sweden, a year ago. It aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with renewable electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a key part of the EU's plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


Original Submission

AI Everything, Everywhere 32 comments

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve has become a woke, sanitized shell of its former self. The crowd of rowdy, inebriated locals and tourists is long gone. What you see now is bouncing and screaming for the latest flash-in-the-pan artists while industry veterans like Duran Duran barely elicit a cheer.

Youtuber and music industry veteran Rick Beato recently posted an interesting video on how Auto-Tune has destroyed popular music. Beato quotes from an interview he did with Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan where the latter stated, "AI systems will completely dominate music. The idea of an intuitive artist beating an AI system is going to be very difficult." AI is making inroads into visual art as well, and hackers, artists and others seem to be embracing it with enthusiasm.

AI seems to be everywhere lately, from retrofitting decades old manufacturing operations to online help desk shenanigans to a wearable assistant to helping students cheat. Experts are predicting AI to usher in the next cyber security crisis and the end of programming as we know it.

Will there be a future where AI can and will do everything? Where artists are judged on their talents with a keyboard/mouse instead of a paintbrush or guitar? And what about those of us who will be developing the systems AI uses to produce stuff? Will tomorrow's artist be the programming genius who devises a profound algorithm that can produce stuff faster, or more eye/ear-appealing, where everything is completely computerized and lacking any humanity? Beato makes a good point in his video on auto-tune, that most people don't notice when something has been digitally altered, and quite frankly, they don't care either.

Will the "purists" among us be disparaged and become the new "Boomers"? What do you think?.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Tuesday December 20 2022, @04:08PM (5 children)

    by inertnet (4071) on Tuesday December 20 2022, @04:08PM (#1283352) Journal

    That crane looks like it's going to need a lot of maintenance, because moving parts and hydraulics don't look to be protected very well from the blistering hot steel.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:21PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:21PM (#1283364)

      You are an engineer with knowledge in the design of this type of equipment?

      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:46PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:46PM (#1283370) Journal

        I was the Safety Manager at a steel mill and those look exactly like the cranes we used.

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday December 20 2022, @06:56PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday December 20 2022, @06:56PM (#1283384)

      I didn't (yet) look at the article, nor have I ever worked in steel production, but I have worked in factory, and PLC/MMI system design and programming. A recent co-worker had worked in steel mills for many years as a technician / plant engineer. He's shared many stories, sadly including major human injury including his own, and loss of life.

      Bottom line: yes, there's a huge amount of maintenance needed. Many things need to be cleaned, adjusted, overhauled, replaced, every batch. The hydraulic hoses, for example, are generally protected by very expensive very high-temperature resistant materials.

      One mill, that coworker worked in, melted down scrap steel. The system used 3 electrified carbon rods that plunged down into the scrap steel pile. I forget the voltage- maybe 800? Amps in the 15,000 range (IIRC). Rods were about a foot (300 mm) in diameter, many feet long. Giant welder basically. Water was being continually sprayed to cool the rods during operation. He said the sound was so loud, no humans were allowed anywhere near the operation (not that anyone would want to!). He said even with very high performance earplugs and ear muffs, if you opened your mouth, the sound would go through and into your ears and wreck your hearing.

      Bottom line: yup, a lot of maintenance happens in factories / production environments.

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday December 20 2022, @07:11PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday December 20 2022, @07:11PM (#1283385)

      I don't know, and am not speaking specifically to those cables and hoses, but there are some cables, including very high-powered car charging cables, that have liquid cooling tubing within the cable. As an EE, I'm not sure I like that idea- skimping on copper and adding cooling instead... I guess it works, and makes the cable more reasonable for human handling.

      https://aved.com/the-costs-and-benefits-of-active-cooling/ [aved.com]

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday December 21 2022, @12:24AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 21 2022, @12:24AM (#1283422) Journal

      That crane looks like it's going to need a lot of maintenance, because moving parts and hydraulics don't look to be protected very well from the blistering hot steel.

      While the crane grasps hold of the coil from above, it doesn't actually look all that poorly protected. Sure heat rises, but it'll be mixed with the ambient air.

  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:02PM (3 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday December 20 2022, @05:02PM (#1283361)

    machine-learning algorithm to calculate the optimal spot for each coil to quickly cool down before it is shipped off.

    That's probably a job a highly trained specialized worker was doing, replaced by a machine because the machine isn't unionized.

    trained as "digital agents"

    In other word, the highly trained specialized worker is offered a new job servicing the machine that took his job, for a lesser pay of course. And if the management is really crafty, they managed to legally lay off and immediately re-hire said worker so he doesn't get to keep his seniority bonus.

    Been there done that. Believe me, that's exactly what that is. Not that it wasn't inevitable, probably. But TFA is a little too sugarcoated for my taste, presenting it as good news for the workforce. It probably isn't. Because it rarely is for blue collar workers.

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