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Industrial Research And Consultancy Centre

Tata Steel, India and IIT Bombay Team receives

2024 INFORMS Franz Edelman Finalist Award

Tata Steel, India, and IIT Bombay team received the 2024 INFORMS Franz Edelman Finalist Award during the Edelman Gala night at INFORMS Business Analytics Conference 2024, Orlando, USA, on 15th April 2024. This world’s leading Operations Research and Analytics Award is given by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS Society, USA) each year for successful industrial applications of operations research. This year’s competition involved many teams across the globe.   After two rounds of review and scrutiny spanning four months by INFORMS Society judges, the Tata Steel and IITB team had reached the finals, along with American Airlines, McDonald’s China, ALDI Sud Germany, Molslinjen Denmark, and Transvision Netherlands.

During the Edelman Gala night, Tata Steel and IIT Bombay were inducted as members of the prestigious Franz Edelman Academy. Since 1972, membership in the Academy represents an extraordinary contribution to society through the innovative application of analytical decision-making in business. Franz Edelman Academy members serve as role models for other organizations and exemplify that challenges can be faced successfully and opportunities for improvement can be found in the very organization through the innovative application of analytics.

Tata Steel India and IIT Bombay team receiving 2024 INFORMS Franz Edelman Finalist Award from Prof. Laura Albert (University of Wisconsin-Madison and INFORMS President 2023) during for 2024 the Edelman Gala night.

Tata Steel India has digitally transformed the continuous steel annealing operation in its most value-added product stream using predictive control based on advanced analytics and optimization. In the steel industry, a continuous annealing furnace is crucial for controlling the quality of cold rolled steel strip through heat treatment. Achieving the optimal target strip temperature during annealing process is vital as it determines the microstructure and mechanical properties of the product coil. However, controlling this process is challenging due to slow furnace temperature dynamics, significant time delays, frequent changes in the steel mass flowrate, the target annealing temperature changes induced by steel grade transitions, and multivariable interactions within the furnace zones. To address these challenges, a novel Model Predictive Control (MPC) technology based solution has been developed in-house by Tata Steel, India for the continuous annealing furnace with Indian Institute of Technology Bombay as the academic consultant. The system is controlled by repeatedly solving a sequence of finite horizon optimal control problems online, once every minute. This approach ensures smooth changes in strip temperature profile during steel grade transitions and prevents the violation of operating constraints.

Tata Steel India and IIT Bombay team (from left to right Mr. Anil Pujari, Chief of Flat Products Manufacturing, Dr. Jose Korath, Chief of Intelligent Systems & Mathematical Modelling group, Mr. Sujit Jaganade, Lead Engineer and Prof. Sachin Patwardhan) at the award function with INFORMS Executive Director Dr. Elena Gerstmann (on the left) and Prof Julie Swann, (University of North Carolina and INFORMS President 2024).

The MPC-based supervisory optimal control solution has been successfully implemented in real-time operations since January 2023. The systematic implementation of the optimal control solution has led to a significant improvement in the proportion of annealed products meeting the premium quality band and prevented the redirection of significant amount of material outside the control band annually. This solution has reduced fuel consumption per ton of steel by 8%, which has resulted 8% reduction in CO2 emissions annually. This improved control and fuel savings have translated to significant financial benefits. Furthermore, MPC implementation has resulted in 20% improvement in the premium product quality, helping retain customers and acquire new business in the highly competitive automotive steel market.