After a year of organizing and planning, the national Steel Manufacturing Simulation & Visualization Consortium, based in Northwest Indiana, is ready to move forward to help American steel producers compete more favorably worldwide.
Driving the consortium is Purdue University Calumet’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), steel producers and suppliers, as well as industry-related associations. By employing the CIVS research facility’s cutting edge technologies, the consortium seeks to identify ways to make steel production more efficient, competitive and sustainable.
“We are eager to begin identifying and advancing research projects that will benefit the domestic steel industry,” Consortium and CIVS Director and Professor Chenn Zhou said. “The mission of our consortium is to support the competitiveness of the American steel industry by using simulation and visualization technologies as research tools to make steel manufacturing more viable across its value chain.”
Commitment to domestic steel manufacturing
Northwest Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky added, “I applaud the leadership of Director Zhou and Purdue University Calumet for the investment of their time and ability to ensure that our domestic steel industry remains the most technically advanced in the world. These are difficult days for the American steel industry, but the actions of this initiative give me confidence that our institutions of higher learning, our domestic workforce and our producers remain committed to manufacturing steel in America.”
A $480,000 federal planning grant was awarded to Zhou as CIVS director in June, 2014 to launch the consortium, one of 19 funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to advance U.S. manufacturing technology.
Supported by more than 15 companies and organizations, it also is the only consortium dedicated to furthering domestic steel industry competitiveness and sustainability.
“Purdue Calumet is proud of its role as a leader and responder to one of the most crucial economic development challenges our nation has faced this century,” Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon said. “Through technical resources, intellectual capital and collaboration, this consortium is poised to make a huge contribution in helping redirect a vital regional and national industry.”
Developing a road map of priorities
During the past year, consortium leaders have been developing a road map of research priorities in eight critical areas: operational efficiency, energy efficiency, reliability and maintenance, workplace safety, workforce development, environmental impact, raw materials and smart manufacturing.
Research will be conducted using cutting edge technologies of the Purdue Calumet CIVS, an interdisciplinary facility that combines advanced simulation and visualization technologies to provide innovative solutions to industrial challenges.
Charter members who enroll in the consortium will participate in the research selection process. Steel producers already enrolled include AK Steel, ArcelorMittal, Nucor, Steel Dynamics Inc., and SSAB. Several other producers and suppliers are in the enrollment process.
Charter membership benefits
“Everyone who invests in our consortium as a charter member will have opportunities to shape the direction of research,” Zhou said. “For that to happen, members must be enrolled by December, so I encourage producers, suppliers and users throughout the steel value chain to follow up with us as soon as possible.”
Benefits for charter members include discounted and fixed membership fees for three years. Additionally, charter members will participate in industry-led decision-making, accelerated innovation, value-added solutions, rapid access to research results, and leverage of CIVS technologies and funding agencies.
The consortium plans to launch its first group of projects in January. Supervised by industrial collaborators and university faculty members, Purdue Calumet students will apply CIVS technologies to conduct research projects selected by consortium members.
‘Opportunity to make a competitive difference’
Encouraged by early work of the consortium, the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring a pilot project involving CIVS and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in California to harness high performance computing power that increases simulation resolution and decreases computation time.
“Through this consortium, we have a wonderful opportunity to make a competitive difference in the American steel industry,” Zhou said.