Value Steel crossborder event: Industry talks

Value steel crossborder event was organized online 23.3 through Teams. The event attracted over 60 participants from industry, SMEs, and other actors to hear and discuss about steel industry´s digital future.

Previously published news story focused on Peter Wallin’s keynote talk. This news story focuses on industry talks presented by Outokumpu, ABB, SSAB Europe & Boliden Rönnskär. News story related to SME talks will be published later this week. 


Juha-Matti Pesonen - Head of Industrial Digitalization, Outokumpu

In his talk, Juha-Matti discussed about industry needs for digitalization and opportunities provided by Outokumpu Digital Platform (ODP). He highlighted three challenge areas in the Outokumpu manufacturing environment where digital transformation is needed. These are: equipment and machine (old and unharmonized machines, siloed data storages...), data governance (unconsolidated and unqualified data, lack of best practice sharing channels…) and human aspects (siloed thinking, a vast share of manual data upload and refinement…). He highlighted camera solutions, smart sensors, and data collection tools for ODP as the most improtant investments for Outokompu related to automation and AI.

Juha-Matti emphasized that digital transformation requires not just seamless technology and data, but also huge changes in people and organization culture activities. He shared Outokumpu´s view of the roadmap to digital factory, which consist of seven roadmap milestones: data collection, data archive, visualization/report, advanced analytics, modeling and simulation, digital twin, and closed-loop. By completing these milestones both in the organization´s digital infrastructure and alignment of organization and skills, Outokumpu aims to achieve its digital factory goals.

For SMEs, ODP provides speed, stability, and meaningful accessible data. Juha-Matti emphasized that ODP platform is like a tree: factory forms the ground, roots provide data from production processes, trunk stores and manages the data, and branches and leaves create applications for the data. From SMEs, Outokumpu preefers modular solutions, which can be used on their own and scaled forward if needed, over big one time solutions. In other words: SMEs solutions should be built so that they help Outokumpu to reach big digitalization goals with small steps.

Juha-Matti believes that data sharing will become new normal for all industries in the future and that data sharing routes and efficiency between ODP and customers systems are the key areas for future success. Advanced data sharing projects are already ongoing at Outokumpu in the fields like smart living, where Outokumpu shares data related to its steel solutions to smart living ecosystems. According to Juha-Matti: “ecosystems and transactions are key for the most efficient digitalization activities in future”.


Martin Björnmalm, Digital Lead, Hub North Europe, Process Industries Division, ABB

In his talk, Martin gave an overview of ABB´s views on industry digitalization and presented some of the main areas where ABB can help in industry digitalization. Currently, ABB is co-operating in multiple digitalization ecosystems in the fields like cloud and cybersecurity. Martin pinpointed that ABB offers test environments also for SMEs. Especially tests related to smart cities and agriculture have been important for ABB recently. As the reasons to partner with ABB related to industry digitalization, Martin highligted ABB´s OT and IT capabilities, scalability, open platform, trust and partner ecosystem as ABB`s strenght areas.

Martin highlighted five questions that industry companies should address when they aim to improve their digitalization capabilities. These questions are: "How do you connect data in the most valuable way?", "How do you design a future-proof foundation?", "What can you do today?", "Are there resources and budget?", and "How do you collaborate while managing risk?"

Martin argued that solving industry digitalization problems requires that both data science and visualizations are combined with practical industry knowledge. He emphasized that predictive maintenance capabilities should be one of the key focus areas in digitalization activities as they help to prevent failures and increase industry plants' uptime during plants´ entire life cycle.


Sakari Pahkala, Head of Strategic Automation and Digitalization Development, SSAB Europe Oy (Raahe)

After a short break in the webinar program, Sakari Pahkala from SSAB Europe provided views and challenges regarding the digitalization journey of the large steel company. In his presentation, Sakari focused on production digitalization development. In SSAB´s continuous improvement program, digital initiatives have an important role. Through digital initiatives and development activities, SSAB seeks to improve e.g. production stability, process safety, and yield.

SSAB´s Raahe factory is currently generating lot of data from its processes. The next development areas at the factory include more efficient use of data, consolidation of data sources, improved information management and asset performance. According to Sakari, currently, the main focus in the development is the implementation of the data platform. Data platform (Data Management System as called in SSAB) serves as the foundation for scaling up production digitalization initiatives related to asset utilization, product quality, and process optimization.

Sakari provided interesting examples of pilot cases related to solutions on asset utilization. Moreover, the presentation illustratively opened some of the faced challenges and improvement possibilities regarding product quality control. Finally, Sakari pointed out that benchmarking other industry actors is one of the most important thingh to do to gather the courage to push digital initiatives forward.


Ulf Degerstedt, Technical Manager, Boliden Rönnskär

In the last large industry presentation, Ulf Degerstedt told about running automation and digitalization activities in Boliden Rönsskär. The company has prioritized possibilites related to automation and digitalization within their strategy. The most important development areas in these fields are enhanced work environment, quality, production efficiency, and modern workplaces. In large base metal producer like Boliden Rönnskär, challenges in automation are usually related to the harsh and demanding production environment where gas, dust, and heat act as constant risk factors.

Ulf highlighted that at foremost, Boliden Rönsskär is a production facility , and that digitalization R&D is not part of its main opearations. According to Ulf, there is still a low number of suitable technology and relevant solutions available in the market for heavy industry. One of the main challenges related to the digitalization side is that there is still a huge distance between automation/digital developer personel and production-focused personel. Furthermore, data tends to be in silos which makes it hard to access and use efficiently, and the speed of digitalization activities turns existing technology outdated rapidly.

Ulf sees that even when purchasing digitalization projects, it tends to always take a lot of resources and own R&D to make solutions feasible to the company. When asked for ownership of data, Ulf outlined that data around processes is kept by the company itself.



Main contact and inquiries:

Peetu Virkkala, DigiProcess Project Researcher, University of Oulu, +358 45 644 3202,

Jani Sipola, DigiProcess Project Manager, Lapland University of Applied Science, +358 50 316 7677,

kommentointi suljettu.