Mohawk students in Hamilton to help Stelco steel mill be more efficient


Published January 11, 2023 at 2:58 pm

Students researchers from Hamilton’s Mohawk College are going to help build a communication system that can handle the heat — as in the 1,600C heat of a steel mill’s blast furnace.

Wednesday, Mohawk and Stelco announced that they are partnering to expand data collection and analysis capabilities at the Stelco Lake Erie Works plant, which is an advanced manufacturing facility in Nanticoke in southwest Haldimand County. Researchers from Mohawk’s Sensor Systems and Internet of Things (IoT) Lab will work with Stelco to prototype a customized vision and communication system that can withstand the high temperatures and vibrations that are present within the blast furnace environment.

The ultimate aim for the Mohawk-created system is to collect and analyze real-time image and sensor data and communicate it to Stelco engineering teams. Mohawk noted that along with researchers devising tech that can hold up to the blast furnace, adding an IIoT (industrial internet of things) element into the primary stages of steelmaking should lead to increased operational efficiencies.

The Mohawk applied research team, led by Dr. Esteve Hassan, will include technical experts in machine vision and image processing, instrumentation and data analysis, sensors, advanced manufacturing, and process automation. The project will create jobs for up to 18 students from Mohawk’s School of Engineering Technology and Aviation.

“We look forward to working with the team at Stelco on this exciting collaborative research project,” states Dr. Hassan, who is the college’s National Sciences and Research Council of Canada (NSERC) industrial research chair for IIoT applications. “Our teams will work together to employ machine vision and complex data analytics to enhance the current blast furnace process monitoring and provide a superior way to monitor key performance factors.”

The two-year project has received $300,000 in funding from NSERC through an applied research and development grant. Stelco will also be investing in the project as part of its larger investment in its blast furnace upgrade.

“We are constantly reviewing, developing, and implementing technology-based solutions in order to improve our processes,” said Peter Badgley, vice-president (technology) for Stelco. “This project is a practical way to engage with Mohawk College’s research expertise while introducing local students — a critical part of our future workforce — to advanced manufacturing and the steel industry.”

Stelco has a combined workforce of some 2,200 people between the Hamilton and Nanticoke plants. The latter has made steel since 1980.

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