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Materials Manufacturer

Innovative Global Materials Manufacturer Achieves Industry-Leading Gains in Furnace Life and Furnace Energy Intensity.

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Vision

Contribute to a better world and enhance margins by combining innovative materials plus advanced modeling and process controls to increase furnace performance.

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Solution

Leverage existing subject matter experts with an AI-enabled platform monitoring furnace performance, creating proactive services delivered via a Virtual Center of Excellence.

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Results

A solid baseline understanding of current performance, enhanced anomaly detection and analytic capabilities enabling the creation of a real-time, full life cycle furnace management solution delivering consistent gains in overall performance - throughput, asset life, and energy efficiency with reduced overall cost.

Background

A pioneering global materials manufacturer was seeking innovative ways to continue its trend of hyper-efficient furnace operations while grappling with labor and knowledge shortages as well as increased material costs. The company believed it could harness the power of its in-house experts and its terabytes of historical data by using an AI-powered analytic platform to create a pro-active service model for its furnaces, enabling continued superior performance and sustainability.


A Visionary Approach

This company believes that innovation creates differentiated value and has a multi-year track record of delivering material and process innovations that benefit its customers and margins. Technology has always played a vital role in this company, so when it looked for partners to drive cutting-edge innovation into its manufacturing operations, it considered several factors to be crucial:

  • Employing cutting-edge, but proven technology
  • Leveraging its in-house expertise
  • Supporting an iterative approach to innovation
  • Using all available data, regardless of the source
  • Resulting solutions scaling easily to its hundred-plus plants
  • Ability to monitor their entire fleet of assets remotely from a centralized point

The Challenge

Furnaces are a critical part of the company’s material production process and are a significant component of both its capital and operating expenses. The company is committed to running its business in a highly sustainable and profitable manner, so it needed to ensure its furnaces continued to run optimally while using as little energy as possible, with minimal unscheduled downtime or reactive repair expense. 

The company also faces the same labor and expertise shortages that others in industrial businesses do - it takes many years of experience to know all there is to know about operating a furnace, so the company needed a way to connect its veterans, regardless of where they were, to the furnace or operator who needed help, regardless of where they were. 

The company hypothesized that they could find a technology solution that could:

  • Process their data in real-time despite their size
  • Leverage their in-house experts without forcing them to work 24X7
  • Be implemented in a phased manner
  • Scale - as they rolled out solutions to their global fleet of assets

In doing so, this company would maintain its industry-leading quality and profit reputation.


The Solution

The materials manufacturer teamed its subject matter experts with TwinThread’s AI-Powered industrial analytics platform, creating a 24X7 Virtual Center of Excellence delivering real time-monitoring, and optimization recommendations on:

  • Proactively identify performance degradation over time in order to ensure consistent operation at peak performance
  • Furnace life, including replacement cycles
  • Maintenance activities improving and extending furnace performance
  • Underlying root causes for inefficiencies

This integration of in-house experts with cutting-edge technology enabled them to create a Virtual Center of Excellence around furnace optimization. Experts' knowledge is baked into the platform, and the VCoE connects those same experts to furnaces or personnel who need their help regardless of either’s location.


The Result

The materials manufacturer drove their vision to reality - continuing their double-digit gains in throughput, asset life, and energy efficiency through creating a state-of-the-art Virtual Center of Excellence powered by their experts and an AI-driven asset optimization platform delivering full-cycle predictive furnace management capabilities, able to manage furnaces optimally without burning out their staff.

Initially configured in six weeks, the solution can now be scaled out and implemented on additional furnaces in a single day.

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