How can the manufacturing industry reduce its climate footprint by using artificial intelligence (AI)? The project Smart Forge examines how AI can automate the forging of steel to save resources. With Smart Forge, the forging industry is taking its first steps towards industry 4.0 and digitalized manufacturing.
Bharat Forge Kilsta in Karlskoga, Sweden, is one of the world's largest forging companies. They manufacture forged steel parts for the automotive industry, primarily heavy parts such as crankshafts for truck engines, but also front beams for trucks and buses. Steel part manufacturing is an energy-intensive process, and the industry needs new methods to meet the climate goals.
The steel is heated in an induction furnace, but the material is sensitive to temperature changes. If the steel becomes too hot or cold, it must be discarded and replaced, which costs both energy and materials but also production time. Today the furnaces are controlled manually, and the temperature is completely dependent on the operator. However, AI could potentially be used to automatically regulate the temperature of the furnace.
The goal of Smart Forge is to create a prototype of an AI-based system for process control that can control a forging line and automatically regulate the temperature to optimize the quality of the forged component. This will result in a large reduction of scrap, which in turn will significantly decrease the energy consumption and environmental impact.
Data was collected from Bharat Forge Kilsta's production line in the first phase of the project. Based on the data, an algorithm has been developed and tested in a simulator. The simulator runs real-life scenarios that may occur during the manufacturing process, such as production stops, from which the AI algorithm learns. When the algorithm maintains the correct temperature range regardless of the situation, it is time to use it in a real environment – in Bharat Forge Kilsta's production.
The AI control will also be able to be used in process manufacturing and other areas of the manufacturing industry, to fully digitize and automate production processes.
The project is coordinated by RISE and in collaboration with Karlstad University, Bharat Forge Kilsta, and Viking Analytics.
Region Västmanland, Region Örebro län
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