BEAVERTON, Ore. – August 30, 2022 – Gurobi Optimization, LLC, creator of the world’s fastest mathematical optimization solver, has added another industry giant to its extensive list of clients: Tata Steel, one of the world’s leading steel producers. To tackle the immense complexities 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 be for the foreseeable future,” says Dr. Paul Dickinson, Works Technical Manager Cokemaking at Tata Steel. “This optimization model, the 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 material that goes into the coal blending process is available in a wide range of quantities and prices, and each can affect the final product’s quality in different ways. Because of those variables and any number of added constraints, it would be virtually impossible for a human alone to evaluate all possible combinations and select the single best one.
But with the Gurobi Compute Server, Tata Steel can now evaluate all available blend options, and within seconds identify the combination that utilizes the most cost-effective input materials without sacrificing quality. This has allowed Tata Steel to improve their cash position and lower the costs per slab produced.
“After researching the alternatives, we opted to use the world-leading Gurobi engine and built the application in Visual Studio with C# WinForms,” explained Dr. Christopher Melvin, Process Specialist.
Tata Steel’s CBOM lets users specify multiple constraints, including:
- the total number of materials that can be used in each blend
- the desired percentage and weight of specific coals in each blend
- the relevant quality, product, material availability, and conditions of use
The model also allows customers to adjust those constraints as needed.
Prior to using Gurobi Compute Server, Tata Steel built their optimization models in Excel. Since they started using Gurobi, however, their CBOM has identified blends they had never considered, which has led them to new and improved strategies. After a series of tests, the company found these new blends were indeed superior to the ones they had previously worked with.
Tata Steel also reports that because they’re now able to identify high-value blends within seconds, they’ve reduced the number of coals used in their steel production, which supports their goal of minimizing stocks and keeping cash in the business.
“Though the learning curve was steep, Gurobi provided excellent support,” said James Watson, Optimization Specialist at Tata Steel. “The published application is now an intuitive, slick, and focused blending tool with best-in-class solver performance able to perform all our required tasks and offer further areas to explore how we can add value.”
To learn more about how Gurobi has helped Tata Steel optimize their coal blending process, read Gurobi’s complete case study.