MES 4.0 for Big River Steel

  • Steel Industry

On the banks of the Mississippi in Arkansas, USA, Big River Steel operates one of North America’s most modern and environment-friendly steelmaking plants. The plant has an annual production capacity of 1.5 million on tons, which currently is increased to 3 million t/year in a second construction phase.

The SMS Group, the leading supplier of solutions for the global steel industry, built the plant. SMS completed the whole investment, including the supply of mechanical and electrical installations as well as automation systems.

As a subcontractor, Macrix was responsible for the development of the MES 4.0 system (Manufacturing Execution and Planning System).

The system controls the entire plant by planning and tracking all production sequences. It gives commands to components on lower levels of automation like furnaces, casters and mills. MES 4.0 is also responsible for quality control during every phase of production.

Macrix’s software engineers had to ensure that the MES would meet a number of demanding requirements:



A high degree of flexibility was needed to allow the system to continuously adjust production processes to handle both large-scale and small orders in the most cost effective way.


Expansibility and adjustability

These were another crucial factor, as the plant personnel must be able to alter all production parameters on the fly to account for non-standard products ordered by clients.


Automated reports

To ensure that the final products meet the plant’s strict quality standards, the system must provide automated test reports after each production step.


Continuous operation

As the facility operates 24/7, the system is expected to offer the highest level of availability and reliability.

Our team of specialists collaborated closely with engineers from the SMS Group and Big River Steel, basing the project management on Agile methodologies.

For the writing of interfaces and processes, we used .NET. Apart from standard programing platforms, we also used tools developed in-house by Macrix:

• To ensure the system’s adjustability, we implemented our configuration tool Yucon PRO. It enables the mill technologists to adjust the manufacturing without the need of halting production. A user-friendly interface allows for making changes without software knowledge.

• The previous version of ArconQ, ProconTEL, was used as the basis for communication between the MES system and lower levels of automation.

Our specialists participated in all phases of mill commissioning, first remotely, later joining the on-site team. Currently we are supplying ongoing technical support for the MES 4.0.

The MES 4.0 system is one of the key elements of the fully digital “smart” BRS plant. The mill sets standards as far as manufacturing capabilities, process flexibility and energy efficiency are concerned.

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