United States and Argentina

A steelmaker's digital transformation

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Argentine-Italian steelmaker Tenaris is investing in integrating the data of its industrial processes in order to have better control of its plants and to monitor steel tube production, Alejandro Lammertyn, chief digital & information officer, told BNamericas.

The company, a subsidiary of Techint, uses automation solutions from different suppliers, such as Siemens and Schneider, although it is now seeking to standardize systems with Siemens. On top of the automation layer, the company is running a data analytics platform, which is being developed internally with the support of a consulting firm and is hosted in Microsoft's Azure cloud. The platform seeks to integrate all industrial processes of steelmaking, including rolling and finishing.

Another important initiative is the digital monitoring of each tube throughout the process. Prior to this investment, Tenaris tracked its products by batch, but was not able to identify the tubes individually.

Thanks to Pipe tracer, a tool to read the digital footprint of each tube, the company is able to gather all the information on its production, offer quality guarantees and eliminate field operations such as measuring tubes, improving the safety of operators.

Tenaris is also using digital twins for plant programming. “Before, we would do tomorrow's program today and everything that happened during the day affected the next day's program. Now we can analyze it in real time," Lammertyn said.

The company has a plant layout in the form of a digital twin that allows it to see the interaction of each production component in real time. "Now we’re constantly changing plan, there’s no longer a plan for the day, it’s dynamic and varies depending on the situation at the moment," he said.

Tenaris expects by the end of the year to integrate the data from all its plants and bring the new scheduling scheme to all its industrial sites.


One of the most important elements in Tenaris' digital transformation was breaking down silos. “In the company, there was and is knowledge, but everyone worked on their own,” said Lammertyn.

Tenaris has a data science area – in charge of industrial process improvements and with its own "mini" IT area – as well as an automotive area that manages plant processes and the IT area. "These three areas separately could never have reached the results we have now," he added.

The executive said it is necessary to review the impact of the investments and put a lot of emphasis on the transformation of processes. "There has to be a transformation in the operations because, no matter how much you change the systems, if there’s no transformation, in a short time everything that’s invested is lost," he said.

Lammertyn added that many pilots are conducted in the industry but not all of them achieve consistent long-term results, so the value of what is being done must be constantly measured.


Tenaris’ industrial plants are connected with fiber optics and Wi-Fi. In the case of remote machines or sites, IoT networks are being implemented.

In the US the company is also going to start tests with 5G. "We believe that it will allow us to exploit more data, at lower cost and with greater speed," said Lammertyn.

The Tenaris official sees 5G as useful for off-plant applications, where fiber optic networks already installed have no reach. "The cost of lighting, for example, the entire yard where the tubes are stored is currently very high, but with 5G the cost would be much lower," he said.


The pandemic prompted the company to use innovative technologies such as virtual reality. Tenaris is testing Microsoft's Hololens so customer inspectors can visit the plants virtually. "Our industrial quality is distinctive, which is why plant visits are vital for us and with the pandemic they could not be done," Lammertyn said.

In addition, virtual reality is being tested for remote equipment maintenance and customer assistance.

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