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Posco uses smart technology to make plants safer

Posco employees examine a product identified by the company’s product recognition program. (Posco)
Posco employees examine a product identified by the company’s product recognition program. (Posco)

Steelmaking is dangerous work that involves heavy equipment and hot materials, including molten iron that gets as hot as 1,500 degrees Celsius. Minor mistakes can lead to deadly accidents.

To prevent industrial accidents and to promote safety for its employees, Posco has implemented various smart technologies, the country’s leading steelmaker said Sunday.

Recently, for example, the steelmaker introduced drones to its plants. In the past workers had to use ladders and climb about 100 meters to check sinter plants for defects, but now drones take care of that task.

According to Posco, its drones are useful not only for risky tasks, but have also improved efficiency for work that needs to be done in small, closed spaces.

The steelmaker said it also uses robots to achieve efficiency in production while protecting its workers from injury.

Because workers are around hundreds of tons’ worth of molten iron and steel products whose weight in tons is often in the double digits, extra caution is required. It is crucial for each worker to keep in step precisely.

To limit the danger, Posco said it had increased the number of robots used for facility maintenance and repairs.

For example, automated robots clean off the impurities and residues that build up on the steelmaking equipment, protecting employees from exhaustion and from accidents that could cause suffocation or burns.

In addition, the steelmaker said, it is sharing the smart technologies with partner firms in the interest of synergy across its supply chain.

With demand increasingly diversifying, the meticulous examination of steel products -- to categorize them by type, size and label -- is crucial.

The steelmaker said it had established a task force at the end of last year, and worked with 15 partner companies and seven foundries to develop an automatic product recognition system using image recognition technology.

The company has also advanced the data management system so that product orders can be processed promptly and accurately, Posco added.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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