PSI Blog

The Internet of Metals – How to Trace the DNA of a Coil

09 Dec 2020 - Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Production, Technology

©Andrey Danilovich/iStock & maxkabakov/iStock; edited by PSI Metals

When people think of DNA analysis they often think about shows like CSI, which portray DNA samples coming into a lab and pulling up a picture of the suspect within a short period of time. Indeed, it is fascinating how only a single DNA fragment can be used to draw conclusions about a person! This concept can also be transferred to the metals industry.

Inspired by the human DNA, the company coilDNA has developed a revolutionary technology that gives individual pieces of metal an identity, tracks its history and turns them into an intelligent product. The start-up has partnered with PSI Metals to integrate CoilDNA technology into the MES systems of manufacturers and processors. The integration process is standardized via the future-proof PSImetals Service Platform so that this new technology is available to all PSI customers "out-of-the-box".

Industrial metals such as aluminum or steel are processed by melting, casting, rolling and by various types of heat and surface treatments. In each step, countless data records are generated that are relevant to the quality and properties of the semi-finished product (coils, strips, plates, profiles). Individual pieces of metal are usually cut out of these semi-finished products, a process step in which the connection of the individual piece to the original material and thus also to the connected (quality) data gets lost.

Within the plant, a production management system provides a remedy by taking over the logical material and thus the data tracking via the so-called product genealogy. However, if the individual material piece leaves the plant, the unambiguous and above all position-related relationship between material and information is usually lost. The individual piece then no longer carries any information about the material composition, the manufacturer, the position within the parent product, properties or quality-relevant production parameters, etc. 

Similar to human DNA, the start-up company coilDNA has developed a revolutionary technology that gives individual pieces of metal an identity and turns them into an intelligent product that can be connected to the Internet. Thus the expression IoM - Internet of Metals - begins to take shape.

Human DNA as Inspiration

The coilDNA information code is printed by laser or ink jet onto the surface of the material ©coilDNA

Human DNA serves as an excellent model, since every single cell of a human body can be used to identify the person. DNA sequencing enables the reconstruction of all DNA information from a single DNA molecule. The coilDNA technology uses comparable algorithms. A unique coilDNA information code is continuously printed by laser or ink jet onto the surface of a parent product, e.g. a coil, a tube or a profile. This code uniquely identifies the position on the parent product and then allows the production data recorded at this position to be assigned. Regardless of how this parent product is cut in subsequent production steps, this article-related information is always available. With only 14 characters of the CoilDNA code, all information about the respective metal piece can then be retrieved.  

What You Can Achieve With the DNA of a Coil...

  • Optimized processing of metal parts by taking into account the local properties of the semi-finished product used
  • Simple tracking of products and their properties throughout the whole supply-chain from manufacturer to processor 
  • Just taking a picture of a product labeled with a coilDNA code enables data-driven communication with the producer or the material-engineer. The coilDNA CHAT App provides information about the producer, the production steps, production parameters and product properties.
  • Forgery protection: The link between electronic or paper documents and the physical product is lost shortly after product delivery. With coilDNA's technology anyone in the world can check whether a document is really valid for a specific metal part.
  • The sustainability information (e.g. ASI certificates) can be tracked for every single metal part produced from a certified delivery
The coilDNA CHAT App ©coilDNA

PSI acts as data or cycle generator.

During ongoing production PSImetals takes care of the generation of the coilDNA code, the application of the code to the material and the provision of all material-relevant data.

Together with PSI, the coilDNA technology has successfully been implemented at our common customer AMAG in Austria.

Do you want to know more? Follow our Enjoy the Sound of Silence campaign, which is enriched with many exciting blog articles and exclusive webinars, so that you can finally enjoy the silence of a smooth shopfloor!

Dr. Werner Aumayr

CEO of CoilDNA