BEAVERTON, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gurobi Optimization, LLC, creator of the world’s fastest mathematical optimization solver, has added another industry giant to its extensive client list: Tata Steel, one of the world’s leading steel producers. To overcome the immense complexity of coal blending and streamline production, Tata Steel created their own Coal Blending Optimization Model (CBOM). With the help of Gurobi, this model is projected to cut costs by millions in the long term.
“The tools we have developed with Gurobi are now part of our business as usual operations and will continue to be in the future,” said Dr. Paul Dickinson, Cokemaking Works Technical Manager at Tata Steel. “This optimization model, its technology, and the lessons learned while developing it have acted as a template for other models, providing further benefits and more opportunities to find and deliver value.”
Each ingredient that goes into the coal blending process comes in a variety of quantities and prices, and each can affect the quality of the final product in different ways. Because of these variables and a number of additional constraints, it is almost impossible for humans alone to evaluate all possible combinations and choose the best one.
But with the Gurobi Compute Server, Tata Steel can now evaluate all available mix options, and in seconds identify the combination that uses the most cost-effective input material without compromising on quality. This allowed Tata Steel to improve their cash position and lower their cost per plate produced.
“After researching the alternatives, we chose to use the world’s leading Gurobi engine and build the application in Visual Studio with C# WinForms,” explained Dr. Christopher Melvin, Process Specialist.
CBOM Tata Steel allows users to define several restrictions, including:
the total amount of ingredients that can be used in each mixture
desired specific percentage and weight of coal in each blend
relevant quality, product, material availability, and conditions of use
This model also allows customers to adjust these constraints as needed.
Prior to using Gurobi Compute Server, Tata Steel built their optimization model in Excel. However, since they started using Gurobi, their CBOM has identified a mix they had never considered, which led them to a new and better strategy. After a series of tests, the company found the new blend was indeed superior to anything they had previously worked on.
Tata Steel also reports that because they can now identify high-value alloys in seconds, they have reduced the amount of coal used in their steel production, which supports their goal of minimizing stockpiles and keeping cash in business.
“Despite the steep learning curve, Gurobi provides excellent support,” said James Watson, Optimization Specialist at Tata Steel. “The published apps are now intuitive, slick, and focused mixing tools with best-in-class breaker performance capable of all the necessary tasks and offer further areas to explore how we can add value.”
To learn more about how Gurobi helped Tata Steel optimize their coal blending process, read the complete Gurobi case study.
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