Two winners in the SSAB and Sandvik’s innovation challenge regarding fingerprint identity for steel recognition

Jury member Mattias Klockars, Manager, Sandvik Materials Technology's Strategic Research Lab, winner Professor Mikael Sjödahl, at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, jury member Niko Korte, Head of SSAB Digital Business Development and winner Dr. Tobias Schmid-Schirling, at Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques in Germany.

The search for an identifier that can trace steel throughout its value chain has kept researchers busy for many years. Extreme heat, mechanical processing, deformation and corrosion are some of the harsh environments that an identifier has to withstand. To find a solution, Sandvik and SSAB invited researchers, companies and institutes around the world for an innovation challenge.

A total of 26 teams submitted a proposal and on 12 December 2018, seven finalists from Sweden, Finland, Germany and South Africa pitched their ideas to a jury at Jernkontoret in Stockholm. The ideas included a large variety of solutions ranging from laser and direct part markings, digital twins, blockchain, algorithms, image-based microstructure identification to Barkhausen noise analyses and a global credibility platform.

“The innovative level of the submitted proposals is impressive. We have seen several solutions that we haven’t even thought about”, says Mattias Klockars, Manager, Sandvik Materials Technology's Strategic Research Lab and part of the jury.

Winners of the innovation challenge

The jury hence had a hard decision to make and two finalists were finally awarded the prize: Mikael Sjödahl, Professor at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden and Dr. Tobias Schmid-Schirling, at Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques in Germany. Both winners presented marker-free tracking solutions:

  • Mikael Sjödahl’s solution is based on a three-level optical solution where each level identifies the product through a unique pattern saved in a database.
  • Tobias Schmid-Schirling’s solution is called a Track & Trace Fingerprint and captures the structural pattern of a product with a standard industrial camera and encodes the high-resolution image into a numerical code for later identification.

Both Sjödahl and Schmid-Schirling have worked on their solutions for many years. Sjödahl started his research career Luleå University of Technology in 1991.

Now, the real work starts. With access of technology expertise, business knowledge and the international customer network of SSAB and Sandvik Materials Technology, Sjödahl and Schmid-Schirling will now start pilots to further develop their ideas.

About SmartSteel Innovation Challenge

SmartSteel Innovation Challenge is an initiative from SSAB and Sandvik aiming at discovering new ideas of how to trace steel throughout its whole life cycle. A fingerprint should act as a quality label, and provide useful information about the material, safety and durability among other things. The winner gets the chance to further develop the idea together with SSAB and Sandvik. SmartSteel Innovation Challenge is part of the SmartSteel project that is linked to the strategic innovation program PiiA.

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