And yet, were it not for the mundane contents of one of these two white sheet-steel containers, this historic plant, which was modernised at a cost of some 300 million euros as recently as 2013, would probably become uncompetitive in the medium term. The floor inside the containers is made of grey rubber, and behind the triple-secured door, along the white sheet-steel walls on the left and right, run two aisles, each measuring only 60 or 100 centimetres wide – just enough to allow easy movement without wasting space.
In the centre of the container are just under a dozen racks fitted with precision-wired servers that hum along gently. Seven climate-control devices keep the inside temperature at a constant 22 degrees Celsius. An early fire detection system an extinguisher system using Novec 1230 as an extinguisher gas stand ready to protect the IT infrastructure if a fire should break out. “These containers are the new backbone of our production IT,” Stefan Willing, Technical Project Manager at thyssenkrupp Steel, points out. “They are an important cornerstone for a standardised IT system in our manufacturing department.”
Digital transformation is changing steel production
Hot, dirty, noisy and on a huge scale – that’s how it used to be. However, the future of steel production at thyssenkrupp looks a little different now – quiet, clean and cool. Digital tranformation is playing an ever greater role in the production of more than 2,000 steel products at thyssenkrupp. Whether developing new materials, modifying goods to suit customer requirements – including at short notice – or optimising logistics and warehousing processes, for companies in the steel industry to stay competitive they must be able to generate data, analyse it in real time and make it available to customers.
“Digitalization is increasingly becoming a decisive success factor for us,” says Thomas Jahn, Program Lead Secure Smart Factory. “It’s about digitizing real processes in the value chain.”
Squaring up to the challenges posed by digital transformation calls for an up-to-date IT infrastructure that meets a number of key requirements. It must be located in very close proximity to the production facilities. It must provide reliable access to all the necessary data to ensure production operations run smoothly and seamlessly.
It must keep the know-how crucial to the core business inside the company and protect it against physical and virtual attacks. It must be as standardised and self-sufficient as possible to minimise the workload for both in-house staff and external service providers. A digital Fort Knox, in short.