Work begins on €350mn 'digital' steel factory in Austria, Europe's first for 40 years
Construction has started on Europe's first new steel factory for 40 years in Kapfenberg, Austria.
Voestalpine's €350mn Industry 4.0 project, the plans for which were initially unveiled last September, will see its current facility replaced with a state-of-the-art, digitised plant that will produce 205,000 tonnes of high-performance steel every year.
Beginning on Monday, the construction phase is expected to take three years and will generate 1,000 jobs alone. The 3,000 jobs currently in place in Kapfenberg will be safeguarded at the new facility but staff will be trained in specialist areas such as robotics and data analysis.
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Advanced technology will run at the heart of the factory, with fully-digitalised production processes leading to the majority of workers' roles specialising in monitoring and system management. The plant will also be the 'global benchmark' for environmental and energy efficiency.
According to Voestalpine, its work 'marks a technological milestone in the manufacturing of pioneering high-performance steels for the international aerospace, automotive, and oil & gas industries'. The project also represents a huge boost for the steel industry in Europe, which has suffered hugely in recent decades against the backdrop of far cheaper production costs in China.
"The new special steel plant gives us an unparalleled, global innovative edge, both by digitalising our processes and by continuing to raise the quality of our products," said Franz Rotter, board member at Voestalpine.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”