SynopsisJFE Steel Corporation has developed a self-propelled cleaning robot capable of working in challenging conditions like high temperatures and dusty environments. This robot aims to automate the cleaning of steelworks equipment, reducing the physical strain on human workers and enhancing safety and productivity in the steelmaking process. The robot utilizes advanced cooling mechanisms and LiDAR sensors for navigation, making it suitable for harsh operating environments.ArticleJFE Steel Corporation has unveiled a groundbreaking development in industrial automation, a self-propelled cleaning robot designed to operate under harsh conditions commonly found in steelmaking facilities. This innovation is set to significantly reduce the physical burden on human workers while enhancing safety and productivity in steelworks.In pursuit of increased productivity, JFE Steel has been incorporating robots and remote operations into its processes. Robots are primarily deployed for tasks that are complex, hazardous, or physically demanding for human workers. Steel production involves handling materials that contain fine powder or dust, necessitating regular cleaning of dust collectors to prevent contamination.Currently, human workers perform this cleaning task, which becomes exceptionally challenging when carried out near high-temperature equipment. Robots intended for such environments typically require cooling mechanisms to protect their internal electronics. However, conventional exhaust fans used for cooling can inadvertently scatter dust, leading to damage to the robot's components. This challenge has hindered the deployment of robots in high-temperature and harsh operating conditions.To address this issue, JFE Steel has developed an internal cooling system specifically designed to withstand high temperatures. This innovative cooling mechanism is integrated into the self-propelled robot. It incorporates heat-insulating materials to shield the robot from external heat, while its unique cooling system leverages the heat-absorbing properties that occur during the phase transition of substances like resin or water. This breakthrough enables the robot to operate continuously without risking damage to its internal electronics.To navigate its environment effectively, the robot is equipped with LiDAR sensors, which monitor distances to surroundings and obstacles. Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology further enhances its positioning capabilities. This combination allows the robot to autonomously detect differences in its position and target route, enabling it to move along the designated path while performing cleaning tasks.JFE Steel has already conducted durability tests of these robots in steelmaking environments. The company plans to deploy them across all its steelworks facilities to partially automate the dust cleaning process, reducing the workload on employees and enhancing overall safety and productivity.As part of its digital transformation strategy, JFE Steel is actively embracing digital technologies to increase productivity and operational stability. Initiatives include the establishment of the JFE Digital Transformation Center (JDXC™) and the implementation of cyber-physical systems in steelmaking processes. Looking ahead, JFE Steel aims to address various challenges through digital transformation, contributing to a more sustainable world.Conclusion JFE Steel's development of a self-propelled cleaning robot for challenging steelmaking environments represents a significant step towards automation and improved safety in the industry. This innovative robot's ability to operate in high-temperature and dusty conditions, coupled with advanced cooling mechanisms and navigation technology, promises to reduce the physical strain on human workers and enhance overall efficiency in steel production. As JFE Steel embraces digital transformation, it continues to pioneer solutions for a more sustainable future in the steel industry.