Voortman Steel: The Next Level in Automation for Steel Manufacturing


For about two years now, ‘Industry 4.0’ is being referred to by a lot of experts in the manufacturing industry. But what does it mean exactly and, more importantly, what is its added value for you?

In one sentence: This next level in automation means that everything is connected, in all the levels of the value chain.

The production of the future will run even more independently than now. We are not talking anymore about automation of a production line itself, we are talking about automation of the whole factory. Failures on certain type of machines will be responded with an alternative route through the factory. Production times will be calculated based on routing and work cell loads will be adjusted. Bottlenecks in the factory will be minimized and constraints will be solved.

This implies that also on a machine or production line level things are going to change. In means that a machine will give back detailed information about its status, working conditions and production time. For example, steel processing machines can give information about the steel processed, their current status and what parts and consumables need to replaced soon. This speeds up production time, but also decreases downtime since parts can be exchanged just before their end of life.

Besides this, products can be monitored via sensors. This means you can see where they are located during the entire production process and in what state they are. By means of this two-way communication the machine and software system are able to control production autonomously and in a way that is a lot more efficient.

All together, Industry 4.0 will eventually lead to new business models and improved productivity by connecting machinery, sensors and control systems together. But take in mind that this fourth industrial revolution is a revolution that comes with small steps; it is not one huge immediate change.


In short, these are the things that are already realized or being realized in the future by Voortman:


The software system makes it possible to monitor the current situation from the office and thereby, being up-to-date on everything that happens. Voortman delivers a total integrated solution called "Multi System Integration" (MSI). The whole system is equipped with additional detection and sensors to monitor every operation and motion, enabling you to see where products are located during the entire production process and in what state they are. This increases the productivity highly while man-hours are being saved and enables the operator to control the whole system on his own.


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The Voortman machines automatically select the best route to process steel. If there are more machines suitable for a certain operation the control system may decide to reroute products, this decision is based upon the actual load at the machines (load balancing algorithm). This makes it possible to reach the most profitable way to handle production.


Steel processing machines indicate when it will be the right moment to replace parts and consumables which gives you the opportunity to plan maintenance and reduce downtime based on real-time data. This helps save a lot of money and makes it possible to spend more time on selecting the right parts.


Voortman Customer Services is able to solve 90% of all requests remotely. The software enables the Voortman support team to take over your machine control in order to solve interruptions.