BEAVERTON, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gurobi Optimization, LLC, creator of the world’s fastest mathematical optimization solver, has added another industry giant to its long list of customers: Tata Steel, one of the world’s leading steel producers. To deal with the immense complexities of coal blending and to streamline production, Tata Steel has created its own Coal Blending Optimization Model (CBOM). With the help of Gurobi, this model should reduce costs by millions in the long term.
“The tools we have developed with Gurobi are now part of our regular operations and will be for the foreseeable future,” says Dr Paul Dickinson, technical manager of coking works at Tata Steel. “This optimization model, the technology, and the lessons learned during its development have served as a blueprint for other models, providing further benefits and more opportunities to find and deliver value.”
Each material that goes into the coal blending process is available in a wide range of quantities and prices, and each can affect the quality of the final product in different ways. Due to these variables and a number of additional constraints, it would be nearly impossible for a single human to evaluate all possible combinations and select the best one.
But with the Gurobi computing server, Tata Steel can now assess all available mix options and, within seconds, identify the combination that uses the most cost-effective input materials without sacrificing quality. This has enabled Tata Steel to improve its cash position and reduce costs per slab produced.
“After researching the alternatives, we chose to use the world-leading Gurobi engine and build the app in Visual Studio with C# WinForms,” explained Process Specialist Dr. Christopher Melvin.
Tata Steel CBOM allows users to specify multiple constraints including:
the total number of materials that can be used in each mix
the desired percentage and weight of specific coals in each mixture
the relevant quality, the product, the availability of materials and the conditions of use
The model also allows customers to adjust these constraints as needed.
Prior to using Gurobi Compute Server, Tata Steel created its optimization models in Excel. Since they started using Gurobi, however, their CBOM has identified mixes they never considered, leading them to new and improved strategies. After a series of tests, the company found that these new blends were indeed superior to those they had worked with before.
Tata Steel also reports that because they are now able to identify high value blends in seconds, they have reduced the number of coals used in their steel production, which supports their goal of minimizing inventory and to keep cash in the business.
“Although the learning curve was steep, Gurobi provided excellent support,” said James Watson, optimization specialist at Tata Steel. “The released application is now an intuitive, smooth and focused fusion tool with best-in-class solver performance, capable of performing all of our required tasks and offering other areas to explore how we can add value.”
To learn more about how Gurobi helped Tata Steel optimize their coal blending process, read the full Gurobi case study.
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