14/05/24 14:50

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5G as a game changer for sustainable steel

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Orange Belgium and ArcelorMittal Belgium enter into a collaboration agreement to deploy 5G as an innovative and enabling connectivity solution in sustainable steel production
5G telecommunications technology has the power to profoundly transform business and industry, enabling growth and innovation. It is the technology par excellence to support companies in their digital transformations, making them more efficient (process optimization and increased productivity), safer (critical communication in the workplace), and more sustainable (reducing downtime and emissions). The further rollout of 5G and its associated applications is therefore essential if Belgian enterprises and citizens are to enjoy the benefits in numerous sectors such as Industry 4.0, smart cities, healthcare, transport, and entertainment.
To accelerate the implementation of 5G, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration, Public Enterprises, Telecommunication and Postal Services Petra De Sutter initiated support for a number of pilot projects aiming to further digitalization for Belgian businesses and citizens, with a direct link to climate transition.
Following an initial call for projects in 2022, where 20 projects were selected for a total amount of over 19 million euros in subsidies, a second call followed in 2023 for a total of 5 million euros.
Orange Belgium and ArcelorMittal Belgium, both leaders in their respective sectors, together submitted a successful application to pave the way for the implementation of wireless 'Industry 4.0' applications. In doing so, 5G Standalone technology is considered an essential component, exploring the key aspects of a private mobile network with its own independent facilities on the site of ArcelorMittal Belgium in three 'use cases':
- Overhead cranes: 5G will enhance the reliability of wireless communication with PLCs (programmable logic controllers) and servers on the ground floor, increasing the availability of the cranes.
- Scrap vehicles: steel scrap is processed by scrap cranes and wagons, which rely on wireless connectivity for multiple applications. 5G will increase communication reliability, thereby enhancing safety and productivity.
- Railway vehicles: liquid metal is transported from the melting furnace to various production departments. Along the route, the metal cools, requiring energy to reheat it. Wireless 5G communication will be one of the means to improve the handling process, resulting in less temperature drop and less energy waste.
Orange Belgium and ArcelorMittal Belgium fully believe in the potential of these various 'use cases' to accelerate the digitalization of ArcelorMittal Belgium and contribute to the sustainable steel company of the future. The insights gained will provide further understanding for the future development of additional cases, often tied to automation in the logistics perimeter.
Manfred Van Vlierberghe, CEO ArcelorMittal Belgium: “Innovation is in our DNA. We strongly emphasize Industry 4.0 as a mindset to build a better world with smarter steel. Steel that is produced using innovative processes that consume less energy and emit significantly less carbon. Steel that is used to manufacture electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels. We have all the advantages to lead in innovation: highly qualified employees, state-of-the-art facilities, and highly automated processes. Orange Belgium shares the same passion for innovation and sustainability. This unique collaboration in the field of 5G will provide a significant boost to value creation through innovation. A win-win situation for both parties." 
Xavier Pichon, CEO Orange Belgium: “Following the country’s first 5G standalone architecture network in the Port of Antwerp in 2020, 5G Labs in Antwerp and Liège in 2022, and the implementation of 11 government funded 5G pilot projects in 2023, Orange Belgium now solidifies its network leadership by bringing a tailored commercial 5G solution to a leading global industrial partner. Aligned with our ‘Lead the Future’ strategy, the project is the outcome of close teamwork between both companies, showcasing our deep understanding of client needs and the co-creation of optimal solutions. Finally, it underscores our commitment to environmental sustainability. With 5G we are helping industries towards a greener, more sustainable future.”
Fabrice Sancho, Head of Ericsson BeLux: “Through this groundbreaking partnership, ArcelorMittal Belgium and Orange Belgium are setting a new standard for industrial connectivity and efficiency. Ericsson is proud to support this initiative by providing state-of-the-art private network solutions that are tailored for the unique use cases of the steel industry, including mobility on large industrial plants. Our collaboration is a shining example of how digitalization through 5G private networks can enhance operational excellence and sustainability in one of Belgium's key industrial sectors.”
Petra De Sutter, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration, Public Enterprises, Telecommunication and Postal Services: “Today we are here because 5G pushes us to go further, to innovate, to take big steps together. Steps towards safer traffic, better industrial processes, and a responsible ecological transition. We see that more and more companies from various sectors are collaborating and putting 5G at the center of their innovation strategy. We must continue to focus on dedicated collaboration from which our ecology and industry only stand to benefit.”
About ArcelorMittal Belgium 
ArcelorMittal Belgium is committed to building a sustainable world with smarter steels. Steel grades manufactured using innovative processes that consume less energy and emit significantly less carbon. Steel grades that are used to produce electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. ArcelorMittal Belgium has plants in Ghent, Liège, Genk and Geel and employs 5,000 people. Total direct and indirect employment is estimated at 30,000 jobs.