LIBERTY Steel Group and Shiftec, two members of the resilient industry leader GFG Alliance, are partnering to deploy sensor technology that can improve safety and efficiency in industrial facilities.
As part of the two-year project, Shiftec will test and pilot its Aquila system, which uses a GPS-like system to track the precise location of people, equipment and vehicles around factories in real time. The system reduces workplace accidents, improves travel efficiency and – integrated with Shiftec’s high-speed, long-range networking solution – can provide remote control of equipment. This control solution is based on Shiftec’s Gemini system, which has already proven itself in the film, television and defense industries.
The £ 10 million program is funded by Innovate UK through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge, which is part of the larger government-owned Industrial Strategy Challenge fund.
Shiftec is testing the technology at partner plants in the metals, engineering and industrial sectors, including the LIBERTY Specialty Steels plant in Stokesbridge and the pipe plant in Hartlepool. The consortium also includes the Materials Processing Institute and TSC Simulation of Nottingham.
This technology falls under the umbrella category of Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where artificial intelligence is used to improve the productivity of workplaces.
Anthony Blackwell, CTO of Liberty Engineering and Managing Director of Shiftec, said: “This is a great opportunity to further test the potential of the technologies developed at Liberty, which can make a real difference in many different jobs.
“This system allows for the wireless method of controlling heavy equipment and vehicles. It can intervene automatically to prevent imminent accidents, and it can identify small ways to improve the efficiency of processes that add up over time. ”
At LIBERTY Steel’s Stokesbridge site, the project will explore technologies for semi-autonomous cranes, improved mill measurement for product monitoring during rolling, and 3D scan data collection to create a working digital twin of at least one mill stand. At Hartlepool, the system will improve the measurement of the pipe shape during forming.
Dr. Simon Pike, CTO for Liberty Steel UK, said: “This project, which includes Shiftec’s involvement, is a significant step forward for both LIBERTY sites and will serve as a testing ground for Industry 4.0 approaches and automation.
“Combined with digital camera technology and metallurgical models, we aim to obtain more accurate metallurgical information and dimensional control.”
Shiftec, LIBERTY Engineering and LIBERTY Steel are part of the GFG Alliance, a group of industrial enterprises owned by Sanjeev Gupta and his family.