U.S. Steel Gains AI Know-How; Economists See Tech Lowering Wages; AI Talent Shortage Challenge


U.S. Steel Gains AI Know-How; Economists See Tech Lowering Wages; AI Talent Shortage Challenge

By John McCormick October 2, 2019

U.S. Steel gains AI know-how. The steel producer's purchase of a stake in Big River Steel LLC gives it access to ultramodern technology, including machine learning, reports WSJ Pro.
“Definitely, Big River Steel represents the cutting edge around the world in terms of steel plant AI. No questions about it,” said Christopher Plummer, chief executive of Metal Strategies Inc., a consulting company in the steel, metal and mining sector. Mr. Plummer advised banks and investors that backed Big River Steel before the U.S. Steel agreement, which was announced Tuesday.
Terms of the deal. U.S. Steel said it would pay $700 million for a 49.9% stake in the Arkansas-based company, with an option to acquire the rest within four years. Big River’s Osceola, Ark., mill is one of the country's newest and most efficient. It melts scrap steel and produces steel for more than 200 customers, including auto makers.
U.S. Steel seen getting competitive boost. By investing in Big River, which began operating in 2017, U.S. Steel gains access to the technology and know-how for producing sheet steel from melting scrap in an electric furnace. The deal is expected to make U.S. Steel more cost-competitive with rivals, including Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc., that use electric furnaces to turn scrap metal into steel.
The AI inside the plant. The plant’s AI system, designed by San Francisco-based Noodle Analytics Inc., uses deep learning and neural networks. It was designed to continually train algorithms on data captured by thousands of sensors. The data can be useful in a number of ways, from spotting problems with production and quality to helping sequence the production of various grades and sizes of steel in the most efficient manner. The system can also help conserve energy consumption beyond what the plant gets per its utility contract, maximizing the amount of surplus power it can sell.


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