STEELASIA Manufacturing Corp. has tapped a German group to provide a more efficient way to increase steel production via artificial intelligence (AI).

In a statement over the weekend, the steel producer said it had signed an agreement with Germany’s SMS Group to equip its Calaca steel mill with an AI system for process automation and digitalization.

It said the deal, called the EAF Performance Improvement Partnership for Calaca (EPICA), will not increase its carbon footprint.

“We are proud to have Calaca as the Philippines’ first steel plant to be equipped with AI,” said Pino Tese, SMS Group’s chief sales officer for India and the Asia-Pacific region.

He said the use of renewable energies and efficiency improvements for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, “equally supported by recycling, is a vital factor for a sustainable circular economy.”

Benjamin Yao, SteelAsia chairman and chief executive officer, said: “It also means higher green steel production for the country as Calaca uses 100% renewable energy for steelmaking.”

In the media release, the company said the latest combustion technology will be used in its electric arc furnace as part of the project. It added that the pollution control system will also be upgraded to support the project.

SteelAsia said its Calaca plant produces up to 450,000 tons of rebar annually, which it valued at around P18 billion. It expects the project improvements “to increase output in anticipation of higher rebar requirements for infrastructure and housing projects.”

SteelAsia operates five other manufacturing plants in Bulacan, Cebu, Davao and Misamis Oriental. It is scheduled to launch a seventh plant this year in Compostela, Cebu. The new plant is expected to increase its output to 3 million metric tons of steel rebars yearly from 2 million metric tons.

SteelAsia, which is said to be the country’s largest steel manufacturer, has been investing to increase local steel self-reliance and cut import dependence.