Over the last 150 years, technology has played a major role in the steel industry. It is perhaps one of the American industries most influenced by technological advancements. There are many reasons for this.
This dates back to the 19th century Industrial Revolution. The steel industry needed new technologies, as demand grew for workplace safety. Steel demand was also high, requiring more efficient, timely and cost-effective production methods.
AI in the Steel Industry
It’s important to know what the steel industry faces in terms of high-tech advancements.
One of these advancements is already present in other industries, such as healthcare, banking, and finance. This technology is known as Artificial Intelligence (AI). The future impact of AI is yet to be seen as an end result of its use.
Growing Fear of Technology
In the steel industry, the fear is that robots will replace humans and take over their jobs. However, the steel industry relies on resolutions and answers to questions of workplace safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
Unless the industry is unwilling to take on today’s most advanced technologies as their global competitors are, it is easy to see how this can result in a downturn for the industry.
Technology already has an impact on integrated and mini steel mills. Most steel processes already rely on robots for blast furnaces, boilers and ovens to do the work steel mill workers once performed. These robots have become a chief methodology of workplace safety and efficiency.
Can Robots Ever Replace Humans?
In truth, technology has always replaced human jobs. The new concern emerging today is whether AI or robots will replace human jobs in the steel industry. These robots would need to perform production calculations, efficiency ratings, and even engineering design.
To allay these fears, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provided a study on whether robots or technology could ever replace humans.
Interestingly, the study was not quite conclusive as to whether there would be high job losses. Many believe robots in the engineering process would reduce workplace injuries and anomalies. However, we still need humans for upkeep, decision-making, and many other facets.
The study cited several other sources which seemed unable to agree, such as an Oxford Study, McKinsey Report and OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Study.
The result of the MIT study showed it is possible robots could cause the losses of a few million to over a billion jobs, depending on the type of industry. However, it’s ultimately up to individual companies to maintain relevant industry presence among their chief competitors for market share.
What Robotics Mean for the Steel Industry
AI relies on computer-to-computer data creation. This is also known as peer-to-peer computer technology and may have the impact of reducing human input into these computers.
In AI, part of this technology includes “blockchain”, an encrypted, decentralized, and time-stamped history of data.
As such, this new technology has already created jobs in certain industries rather than caused job losses. It’s important to remember that AI and blockchain technology were created by humans.
In the steel industry, robots cannot take over jobs only humans are capable of doing. The methodology of producing steel has been in a constant state of change.
The Steel Industry of the Future
It is easy to see ways in which the steel industry of the future will evolve. Steel jobs will be less hands-on and involve more human intelligence and knowledge.
The future of the steel and metals industry may change in three ways:
- Machine learning could simplify production processes while streamlining steel manufacturing operations.
- Virtual reality (VR) could enable virtual facility operations allowing for creation of new business models.
- Blockchain could enable verified material tracking for purchases such as recycled steel.
Together, these technologies might disrupt steel processes, from extraction to production to product distribution.