ArcelorMittal recruits Ericsson for private 5G across all steel plants in France
ArcelorMittal has cut the ribbon at a new ‘digital lab’ in Dunkirk, in France, adjacent to its largest Europe-based steel production site. The new lab, which opens in September, will host manufacturing partners, start-ups, and universities, and be the epicentre of the company’s digital transformation, it said. The company has selected Ericsson to provide 5G at the site, and also to join it in a new ‘5G steel consortium’ to build private 5G across its plants in France.
The new 2,700 square metre site in Dunkirk has capacity for 200 people, and features eight rooms, various tagged for ‘co-creation’ and ‘immersion’, an auditorium, a bunch of screens (135, including 12 ‘giant screens’), and a load of high-speed internet cable (35 kilometres, a statement declares). The venue will be used for collaboration with partners, and as a training centre and conference site.
Alongside Ericsson, Engie and Suez have been named as partners for industrial energy and water management, respectively. A press statement makes play of initiatives around energy optimisation (with startup Ultiwatt), virtual reality and augmented reality (with Immersion), and autonomous vehicles (EasyMile). The 5G element with Ericsson is geared towards building one of France’s first industrial 5G network, and rolling out to other ArcelorMittal sites in France.
It might be noted, Nokia and partners have already claimed the first industrial 5G site in France. Orange, engaged in the Nokia endeavours (also promoted to press this week), is also involved with Ericsson at the ArcelorMittal site in Dunkirk. As part of an inauguration ceremony this week at the Dunkirk site, Ericsson showed a ‘ports of the future’ demo, with a VR animation to put visitors “in the shoes of a port operator, connected to 5G”.
A statement said: “This demo shows how the connected port and more generally the logistics of the future are part of a sustainable development approach, which will benefit the efficiency of operations, the safety of people and the environmental impact.”
The new 5G steel consortium, which is supported by the French government through its post-pandemic France Relance recovery package, will deploy “one of the first industrial 5G networks in France”, a statement said. “This network will enable ArcelorMittal plants — starting with Dunkirk, then Mardyck in the North and Florange in Moselle — to deploy use cases requiring high-speed mobile connectivity: mobile maintenance, and autonomous vehicles.”
ArcelorMittal will inaugurate a second Digital Lab in Moselle, next to its Florange plant, in the autumn. The second lab will be focused on big data, quality assurance, and maintenance in the steel and mining industries. ArcelorMittal said it is already using IoT-based technologies to run AR and VR to help with safety instructions, AR to help with quality checks, and artificial intelligence to optimise gas recovery.
Matthieu Jehl, chief executive at ArcelorMittal France, said: “This first ArcelorMittal Digital Lab will allow us to further accelerate our digital efforts. We have already developed many projects that clearly position us as one of the leaders in digitalisation in the industry, with the use of augmented reality, big data, models, etc. in our industrial processes. The ArcelorMittal Digital Lab in Dunkirk will take us a step further.”
David Glijer, director of digital transformation at ArcelorMittal France, said: “In Dunkirk now, as in Florange in a few months’ time, ArcelorMittal’s Digital Labs will also help to stimulate the local digital ecosystem. Our partnerships with local authorities, leading schools and universities, start-ups and other major industrial companies, are all accelerators in our digitalisation and that of our territories.”