VAMA’s Smart Factory Changes Automotive Steel Production
In a “Better Connected” world, network maximization will be an ongoing strategic focus of the Industry 4.0 initiative, and services hosted on Internet of Things (IoT) platforms will leverage an expanding gamut of fixed and mobile communication technologies across all key manufacturing sectors — including the conversion of traditional manufacturing facilities into “smart factories.”
Intelligent Manufacturing Redefines Production Processes
Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive Steel Co., Ltd. (VAMA) is a world-renowned automotive steel manufacturer jointly established by China Hunan Valin Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. and ArcelorMittal, a multi-national steel manufacturing corporation headquartered in Luxembourg. The joint venture has developed and implemented more than one hundred innovations in the areas of steel production line management and workmanship, including upgrading operations to 1200 MPa-class high strength automotive sheet production lines, and processing of low value-added hot rolled steel sheets. With these advances, VAMA is helping automakers produce safer, lighter weight, and more eco-friendly, automobiles.
The consensus of VAMA management is that their most pressing concern is the development of operating protocols to improve the energy efficiency for manufacturing steel. They have concluded that the best way to accomplish this objective is to begin the process of building a smart factory.
Product quality relies heavily on world-class steel sheet production lines, intelligent manufacturing management and quality detection systems. The system VAMA envisions will require a smarter production system that collects and distributes vast amounts of machine status data, video, control parameters, and dispatch instructions across dozens of buildings over its 2,500 acre production facility in Loudi, Hunan Province, China. Data transmissions across the facility must be delivered in real-time, uninterrupted.
VAMA is embracing its technical challenges with a forward thinking approach. By selecting Huawei’s enterprise Long-Term Evolution (eLTE) solution, VAMA is meeting business needs with an open, agile wireless smart factory solution. eLTE offers VAMA and enterprises increased bandwidth, reliable Wide-Area Network (WAN) coverage, robust anti-interference capabilities, flexible networking, and high security. Additionally, eLTE removes restrictions posed by wired networks and is able to seamlessly connect large numbers of people, application systems, intelligent machines, and sensors.
Enterprises like VAMA are leveraging the innovative range of services that eLTE makes possible — such as environmental and energy monitoring, remote broadband access of intelligent terminal devices and sensors, High-Definition (HD) video surveillance, and emergency production dispatch.
eLTE Transforms VAMA into a Smart Factory
VAMA’s vast production facilities have now installed a wide assortment of smart meters, sensors, and HD cameras to monitor areas that contain flammable, explosive, and corrosive substances. A single Huawei eLTE base station covers six square kilometers and provides the foundation for ubiquitous network coverage of distant and hazardous locations without having to use a single segment of underground cable.
The new eLTE solution is provisioned with dedicated frequencies and industrial-grade anti-interference and signal penetration capabilities. The result is a seamless wireless network for production and quality monitoring across dozens of steel buildings. Operating with an access latency of less than 100 ms, the VAMA eLTE solution keeps management up to speed with real-time manufacturing status, energy consumption, and pollution discharge conditions. Managers are empowered to adjust policies to meet the prevailing condition of the plant, and further benefit from intelligent monitoring of production quality.
“Face-to-Face” Contact Improves Production Dispatch
VAMA’s high-end automotive steel sheet production services include device inspection, repair, fault location, supervising on-site operations, and emergency rescue. These services are complex and require collaboration across teams. With eLTE, the production dispatch system acts as the command center — with the capacity to control and manage the entire process for production and emergency response. The production dispatch system equips a variety of devices to send and receive voice, video, and data for communication with managers about on-site conditions. The eLTE platform delivers comprehensive 1080p HD video surveillance coverage of multiple manufacturing locations and factory perimeters, and is provisioned to deliver bandwidths up to 100 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream. The system has programmed alarms to warn of problems before they occur and announce problems to protect people’s lives in the event of emergencies or unauthorized intrusions.
The eLTE multimedia trunking system delivers command and control instructions in a multimedia package of text, graphics, voice, and video.
Ease-of-Deployment Reduces Costs
The Huawei’s eLTE wireless solution — with compact core networks and distributed base stations that are small, lightweight, and easy to install — dramatically reduce onsite deployment costs. The industrial-grade performance enables VAMA to effortlessly cope with harsh environmental conditions, such as power outages and snow blizzards.
VAMA is able to achieve ubiquitous network connectivity with eLTE base stations distributed at six square kilometer intervals — with numerous access points — at a significantly smaller deployment cost than is possible with a wired network.
In combination with industry-specific requirements, VAMA is introducing eLTE to every component of their business – seamlessly combining people, application systems, intelligent machines, and sensors, to implement mobile management, and energy conservation. With their intelligent, innovative manufacturing, information, and communications system, VAMA is taking China’s automobile industry to a whole new level.