Human expertise paired with AI

Dr. Thomas Pfatschbacher ...

... wanted to channel decades of operational experience into one intelligent IT system, which could assist steel producers in upgrading their product portfolio.


An innovative solution only available from Primetals Technologies, Through-Process Optimization (TPO) helps steel producers make the most of their equipment. It indicates in great detail what parts of the production chain could be further improved to facilitate a transition to higher-quality steel grades—for instance, steels for the automotive industry. TPO relies on two things: a powerful software system that incorporates many thousands of data points stretching right across the production chain, and the experience and insights into the steel-production process that the specialists at Primetals Technologies have gained over decades. 

"Creating TPO was hard because it was based on such a novel approach," says Dr. Thomas Pfatschbacher of the early days of his brainchild. "We were a small but dedicated team, and I remember constantly facing completely new challenges, coming up with new ideas for how to resolve them in my car, on business trips, and late at night." At the core, the goal of TPO was to pioneer a new solution for the digitalization of all production-related processes in a steel plant. The combination of expert advice and information technology was unique, as other companies only provided traditional consulting without the ability to enable knowledge-­based quality control. TPO emerged as a driver for customer-­­oriented innovation at Primetals Technologies: "The better we understand a steel producer's situation, the more effectively we can support them," says Pfatschbacher.