Corporate Blog
voestalpine AG
Steel goes digital

Steel goes digital

Steel with digital functions? Steel which monitors equipment conditions or sends weather reports? Innovative digital applications combined with advanced steel solutions—these are new areas of business for voestalpine. The Group’s “Digital Products” project closed with a meeting which brought together all sub-projects.

Group photo of voestalpine Digital Products
In this article

Now the project has ended, the focus turns to the topic itself. At the closing event on June 8, the participants looked back at over three years of collaboration—and at their impressive results.

Active commitment

Although there may be no current plans for a voestalpine “Smart Division,” the project participants confirm that considering smart, digital products is the order of the day. New areas of business combining advanced steel solutions with digital applications need to be established, concludes the head of the Group project, Norbert G. (Senior Key Researcher, R&D Mechatronics). For that reason, he believes it was time to launch this cross-divisional project, irrespective of all other current challenges.

We cannot postpone such projects indefinitely, just because we find ourselves in an awkward political or economic situation. That would risk causing a delay which could only be recouped by investing an incomparably higher level of resources.

Günther F.
Member of the Management Board of the Metal Forming Division

Günther F. sees the active involvement of the individual project team members as an indication that the Group project was extremely welcome: “Quite simply, they were all fully engaged at all times, despite the pandemic which demanded physical distancing and a priority on safety.”

Actionable results

Despite the hugely diverse project ideas, over the lifetime of the project, which exceeded three years, Helmut G., Member of the Management Board of the Steel Division, identified many shared problems:Actionable results

We found solutions to problems at individual project level which were relevant to all the sub-projects. These included issues related to sensor technology and energy harvesting, as well as methods of accessing the market. All in all, we developed exciting market scenarios which, in many cases, can already be realized through existing relationships.

Helmut G.
Member of the Management Board of the Steel Division

“Who would buy that?”, was asked at the start of some of the project ideas. Correspondingly, the market and customer requirements were precisely analyzed during the course of each project. For example, the leova® SMART project identified significant interest in the viniculture market for its steel vineyard posts with integrated sensor technology and a sophisticated weather forecasting app.

However, the business ideas generated over the course of the “Digital Products” program often extend beyond the sale of goods. “Digital services are a means of providing an all-inclusive offering in addition to our products,” highlights Norbert G. “When Camtec cam units with integrated sensors collect the recorded data, voestalpine can also present itself as a specialist for evaluating and interpreting this data. This allows us to offer our customers timely notification of remaining service life or necessary maintenance for their production technologies as a service.” Metal Engineering Division solutions involving sensors integrated into rail system components offer a comparable business proposition.

Digital Cam Unit, sensor-equipped slider for inline condition monitoring and optional service for data evaluation
Digital Cam Unit

Selected projects from the Group’s “Digital Products” program

  • Integrating sensors and/or actuators into components produced using additive manufacturing (High Performance Metals Division)
  • Sensors integrated into rail systems to increase track availability (Metal Engineering Division)
  • leova® SMART: vineyard posts for wine growers with integrated sensors and an app (Metal Forming Division)
  • Smart Compacore lamination stacks with sensors (Metal Forming Division)
  • Digital Cam Unit: cam units with integrated sensors for inline monitoring and optional data evaluation service (Steel Division)
  • Tailor-made functional steel: coating solutions for steel incorporating intelligent, conductive structures (Steel Division)
  • Digital Synergy project: know-how platform for developing and transferring key technologies between the sub-projects
Food on a smart shelf
Tailor-made functional steel: digital functions provide support for goods management
'Compacore' in the electric motor: high-quality electrical steel glued into rotor stacks.
Smart Version of compacore®

Digital future

Know-how generated by the Group’s “Digital Products” project is continuously fed into the daily business activities of the voestalpine companies. Johann R., Head of R&D Mechatronics, is delighted with this future scenario: “We envisage a future in which rather than simply having eleven separate project developments, some with a high technology readiness level (TRL), the greater options for collaboration will continually encourage further enhancements.”

There are plans for an Expert Cluster which will secure the advantages of the network and its know-how.

R&D projects which cross divisional borders are an important instrument for bundling the expertise which exists within the Group. The project has resulted not only in specific products but also in the buildup of know-how which is shared between the divisions, can be used everywhere, and can be gradually expanded, providing a valuable basis for future developments.

Franz A.
Head of R&D and Innovation
Share article
GreenTec Steel

Austria's biggest climate protection program

More info
voestalpine AG

voestalpine AG

Die voestalpine ist ein weltweit führender Stahl- und Technologiekonzern mit kombinierter Werkstoff- und Verarbeitungskompetenz. Die global tätige Unternehmensgruppe verfügt über rund 500 Konzerngesellschaften und -standorte in mehr als 50 Ländern auf allen fünf Kontinenten. Sie notiert seit 1995 an der Wiener Börse. Mit ihren Premium-Produkt- und Systemlösungen zählt sie zu den führenden Partnern der Automobil- und Hausgeräteindustrie sowie der Luftfahrt- und Öl- & Gasindustrie und ist darüber hinaus Weltmarktführer bei Bahninfrastruktursystemen, bei Werkzeugstahl und Spezialprofilen. Die voestalpine bekennt sich zu den globalen Klimazielen und verfolgt mit greentec steel einen klaren Plan zur Dekarbonisierung der Stahlproduktion.