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Mohawk College partners with Stelco to expand data collection and analysis capabilities at advanced manufacturing facility

Federal support will help college, students undertake an applied research project at Stelco’s Lake Erie Works facility located in Nanticoke, Ontario.

Announced today, researchers from Mohawk College’s Sensor Systems and Internet of Things (IoT) Lab will work with Stelco to prototype a customized vision and communication system that will be installed in the company’s blast furnace. 

Esteve Hassan2The goal of the Mohawk-created system is to collect and analyze real-time image and sensor data and automatically communicate it to the Operations and Process Engineering Teams during the furnace’s operation. The project will expose Mohawk students to unique design challenges since the prototype will have to withstand the high temperatures and vibrations that are present within the blast furnace environment. 

By incorporating the industrial internet of things (IIoT) system into one of the primary stages of making steel, information gathered can also be incorporated into decision-making at the subsequent processes. This ability will lead to increased operational efficiencies and will optimize the use of resources both at, and outside of, the blast furnace. 

“Stelco is an innovative leader in the market, and we are constantly reviewing, developing, and implementing technology-based solutions in order to improve our processes,” said Peter Badgley, VP Technology for Stelco. “This project is a practical way to engage with Mohawk College’s research expertise while introducing local students – a critical part of our future workforce – to advanced manufacturing and the steel industry.” 

The Mohawk applied research team, led by Dr. Esteve Hassan, Mohawk’s  Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair for IIoT Applications, will include technical experts in machine vision and image processing, instrumentation and data analysis, sensors, advanced manufacturing, and process automation. The project will create jobs for up to 18 students from Mohawk’s School of Engineering Technology and Aviation.

“We look forward to working with the team at Stelco on this exciting collaborative research project,” says Dr. Hassan. “Our teams will work together to employ machine vision and complex data analytics to enhance the current blast furnace process monitoring and provide a superior way to monitor key performance factors.” 

The two-year project has received $300,000 in funding from NSERC through an Applied Research and Development Grant. Stelco will also be investing in the project as part of its larger investment in its blast furnace upgrade. 

“We are grateful for this federal investment in innovation and the commercialization of new technology,” says Cristina Gage, Dean of Applied Research (Interim). “With the support of NSERC, Stelco is not only able to invest in the future of steelmaking, but also directly invest in strengthening Canada’s future workforce, by creating research-focused work experiences for Mohawk students.”