Metal production is facing major economic and environmental challenges globally. The main requirements for competitiveness in the future are the capability to response flexibly to changing demands and the ability to produce metal at high cost-efficiency with a reduced environmental load. These demands cannot be met with the existing operational paradigm, but require the implementation of a flexible, new approach.

FLEX in DIMECC´s FLEX program stands for Flexible and Adaptive
Operations in Metal Production. The program has been carried out
by a consortium consisting of Outokumpu, Outotec, SSAB, Casim
Consulting, Luxmet, Sapotech, and SFtec, together with Aalto University
and the University of Oulu.
The ambition of the consortium has been to foster new innovations
and business, and to strengthen the ecosystem of metal producers, uni-
versities, research institutes, and SMEs. The vision of the consortium is a
paradigm shift from stiff and reactive production to a flexible and proac-
tive operating mode, while moving the Finnish metal industry toward ze-
ro-waste plant and CO2-lean metal production. The shift necessitates
digitalized and interlinked information flows at various levels of the pro-
duction chain.
The research themes of the FLEX program have been resource effi-
ciency, cost efficiency, and flexibility in metals processing. The activities
have been organized in three work packages to achieve the objectives
outlined by the research themes. The work packages are:
– Proactive metal production, consisting of iron, ferrochrome,
and other ferrometals production
– Cost efficiency, focusing mainly on the processes in the steel mill
– Intelligent rolling, optimizing the processes in both the hot- and
cold-rolling mills