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5G Network and Indoor Coverage Enhance Safety at Raahe Plant

5 min
Kun SSAB:n masuunista otetaan rautanäyte, työturvallisuus on varmistettu ennakkoon huolella. Kun SSAB:n masuunista otetaan rautanäyte, työturvallisuus on varmistettu ennakkoon huolella.
Rigorous occupational safety measures must be observed before an iron sample can be taken from the blast furnace. Image: SSAB

SSAB’s big steel plant in Raahe prioritises security. A key component in this is Telia’s 5G network, which provides extensive coverage throughout all the buildings – even underground. The indoor coverage has been designed to work seamlessly across the entire production area.

The production area at SSAB’s steel plant in Raahe is like a small town. Spanning 500 hectares, the area has a great number of buildings, the most striking of which is an approximately one-kilometre-long rolling mill. Located on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia, the plant also features its own port, railway, power plant, fire station and emergency response centre. Around 2,500 people work at the premises, which also regularly accommodate about 1,000 contractors or other visitors.

All operations at the steel plant are built on a foundation of shared safety practices that everyone must adopt.

“Safety is our number one priority. We all undergo regular safety training, and visitors to the area receive online training. Each site has its own safety requirements and risks and hazards are always assessed before contractors or maintenance technicians begin their work,” says Jari-Pekka Ukonsaari, Technical Specialist at SSAB.

Supporting these rigorous safety measures is Telia’s 5G network and its carefully designed indoor coverage, which play a key role in maintaining a safe environment at the Raahe plant.

Mobile devices: essential contributors to safety

With operations all over the world, the Swedish SSAB is the leading supplier of high-strength steel and related services. In Finland, the steel company operates two plants, located in Raahe and Hämeenlinna. The Raahe plant specialises in steel production and the manufacture of hot-rolled plate and strip products.

Telia’s Finnish 5G network provides comprehensive coverage for the entire Raahe plant area, including indoor spaces.  SSAB began enhancing the plant’s indoor coverage with Telia in 2020, and in just over a year, the network was operational in every building.

Over 90 percent of the employees at the Raahe plant use 5G mobile phones for work.

“Here, phones are essential safety tools. For example, everyone must be able to contact our emergency response centre in case of a critical situation. It’s crucial that there’s signal coverage, even in challenging locations like inside the long rolling mill or some basement facility deep underground,” Jari-Pekka Ukonsaari explains. “That’s why the underground areas also have enhanced coverage.”

Indoor coverage requires careful planning

Customer Executive Tatu Norhomaa at Telia says that the indoor coverage for each building in the plant area was individually designed.

“When SSAB notifies us of a signal issue, our first step is to conduct a thorough indoor coverage assessment to inform our planning,” Norhomaa explains. “The process is flexible, allowing us to schedule our work and minimise disruptions to the plant’s day-to-day operations.”

If an employee notices a network issue at a particular location, they can immediately report it through SSAB’s safety observation system. Telia is then called to fix the problem if necessary.

Some of the key features of the 5G network include high bandwidth, low latency and high capacity.

“Building 5G networks presents new challenges for us, particularly due to 5G’s higher frequencies that don’t penetrate building materials as effectively as previous generations. However, the greater data handling capacity of 5G significantly improves its reliability,” Norhomaa explains.

Located on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia in Raahe, the steel plant also has its own port, railway, power plant, fire station and emergency response centre. Telia’s Finnish 5G network provides comprehensive coverage for the entire area, including outdoors, indoors and even underground. Image: SSAB

Enhanced track safety with 5G

SSAB has harnessed the power of 5G networks in its measurement devices and applications.

“We use 5G to conduct noise tests and other environmental measurements. 5G also enables us to monitor certain sites with a live feed,” Jari-Pekka Ukonsaari says.

Most recently, 5G technology has enhanced safety on the area’s railway system, used to transfer molten iron at the plant. Sometimes the rake of wagons the engine has to push may be so long that the engine driver cannot see the junction and other vehicles ahead.

“We’ve implemented a 5G camera that streams HD-quality live footage directly to the moving vehicle,” Ukonsaari says. “This allows the engine driver to receive real-time footage of the junction, significantly improving safety.”

 

Challenge: SSAB’s plant in Raahe spans over 500 hectares and accommodates 2,500 employees, along with over 1,000 regular visitors. Ensuring smooth and safe operations required a mobile network capable of delivering reliable coverage throughout large industrial halls, underground facilities and newly constructed, regulation-compliant office spaces.

Solution: Telia carefully planned and implemented an indoor 5G network to cover all the buildings in the area, ensuring a dependable signal under all conditions. SSAB then integrated 5G connectivity into all its mobile devices, enabling the use of various measurement and monitoring devices within the 5G network.

Benefits: Safe operations at the large plant are now guaranteed. All staff members and contractors undergo safety training that emphasises the importance of promptly reporting any issues. Today, reports of bad coverage are exceedingly rare. Should such an issue arise, the sites are immediately inspected, and Telia will fix the signal if necessary.

Strong and high-quality internal network

Mobile network coverage indoors is a basic requirement for a good business.

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