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Gerdau Digital Scrap Challenge

Gerdau Digital Scrap Challenge

This challenge is seeking your ideas for how to automate the inspection of scrap materials in a way that is quick, accurate, and objective. Read Overview...

The Digital Scrap Challenge is seeking your ideas for how to automate the inspection of scrap materials in a way that is quick, accurate, and objective.


How is scrap inspected today?

To give you an idea of volume, the global market purchased 400 million tons of scrap materials in 2017. Our share of that was 14 million tons. That is a lot of manual inspection! We buy about 280,000 tons of scrap per month in Brazil, amounting to over 10,000 truckloads!

Each truckload of scrap is brought to us, containing up to 200 different types of scrap materials. Upon site entry, each truckload is weighed and the weight is immediately recorded into our ERP software, SAP. Then, the truckload is emptied into a pile in the scrapyard or meltyard. A scrap inspector visually analyzes the material, refers to a manual to determine standard pricing and value, and then records an estimated value onto the same ERP software, utilizing a tablet/smartphone app. Each type of scrap is assigned a different monetary value depending on the metal type, size and density. Any debris found in the truckload is considered a penalty and value is deducted. The scrap inspector must act fast, because within 15 minutes of dumping the load, cranes will get to work organizing the scrap materials into areas of like metals that already exist in inventory. Due to space constraints and scrap provider expectations for quick service, it is very important that the trucks can get in and out in a reasonable timeframe.

What is the Problem?

The way scrap is inspected today has a lot of room for improvement. The current method is very subjective, highly influenced by the personal opinion of the scrap inspector. This leads to inconsistencies in pricing. Additionally, our process requires manual review which is timely and likely inaccurate.


The Key Challenges we face day-to-day that impact our progress are:

  • Varied scrapyard layouts - No standardization
  • Chemistry of scrap is unknown - Wide variety of contaminants
  • Qualitative nature to sorting or grade determination - Currently relying on subjective, visual inspections
  • Unpredictable market - Price, incoming materials (supply), and demand constantly vary
  • Tramp element accumulation - copper, zinc or tin that compromises the quality of scrap


Get Involved

We welcome entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, students, and anyone eager to contribute, to jump into this challenge and to find a solution. Here's what you can do:

  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about the requirements and rules
  • Click ACCEPT CHALLENGE above to start your entry
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to ask questions or connect with other innovators
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above


About the Sponsor


Headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gerdau is the largest producer of long steel in the Americas, and the 14th largest steelmaker in the world.



Did you know that steel is an endlessly recyclable material?


We believe in the transformative power of social projects and are committed to protecting and respecting the environment. This challenge is one of our many initiatives designed to promote sustainability in our industry.

Most of the scrap recycled by our company comes from materials that are no longer used by the community, such as: stoves, refrigerators, and old cars. Also, we recycle the steel resulting from the production process of industries such as automotive, packaging and appliances. This material is recycled into new steel products, which are present in the everyday lives of millions of people.

The use of steel scrap as raw material in our production process reduces the consumption of energy in the steel process and consequently, it minimizes emissions of CO2. Moreover, we generate jobs for thousands of people through an extensive chain of scrap collection and processing for recycling. We also contribute to the preservation of the environment and reducing the amount of material deposited in landfills and inappropriate sites.

For us, recycling is not just a minor initiative for environmental protection, it is a major part of our overall business strategy. Every year, we transform more than 14 million metric tons of steel scrap into new steel present in the everyday lives of millions of people in many ways.

Updates 17

Five Days Left to Submit (TIPS)

Dec. 9, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PST by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

We are quickly approaching the final days open for submission to the Gerdau Digital Scrap Challenge. The deadline is December 14th at 5:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA.)

Here are a couple of last-minute tips for a smooth entry process:

1. Begin your submission process several days before the cutoff time. This allows you to ensure everything you have been working on can be seamlessly integrated into the form.

2. Your submission will not be reviewed until you click the orange "Submit Entry" button at the top of the final review page. Please remember to do this!

3. Review the Challenge Guidelines to ensure your submission is complete. Pay particular attention to the judging criteria which will be the scorecard used to evaluate your entry.

4. Have any questions? Head over to the challenge forum and we would love to help you out.

Thanks so much, and good luck to all!

One Week Left to Submit

Dec. 7, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PST by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

There's exactly one week left to submit your solution to the Gerdau Digital Scrap Challenge!

You're so close. You can do this!  

Remember, the final submission deadline is December 14th at 5:59 pm Eastern Time (New York/USA). No submissions received after this time will be accepted, so make sure to get yours in as soon as possible. Any last-minute questions or concerns can go right in the comments section of this update.


Two Week Warning

Nov. 30, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PST by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

There are only TWO WEEKS left to submit your solution for the Gerdau Digital Scrap Challenge. The early bird definitely gets the worm - so don't put it off! Be sure to have at least 75% of your submission complete a full week before the deadline for maximum flexibility. We'd hate to think you worked hard on a submission, just to miss the deadline by a hair (that's right - no late-night, sad email exceptions - the cut-off is real, folks!)

All that aside, thanks so much to all of you for your interest. Crowdsourcing is nothing without the crowd, and well, that's you. Yeah, you.  

We can't wait to see what the winning solution looks like.

Best of luck to all!

Welcome to our next judge!

Nov. 23, 2018, 1:59 p.m. PST by Despina Maliaka

We are super excited to introduce our next judge - Renato Peres!

Renato is a Materials Engineer from the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. He has a Masters in Materials Engineering and an MBA. Additionally, he is currently a PhD candidate in Materials Engineering and Nanotechnology. Renato brings with him more than 15 years of experience on the procurement area of several large industrial corporations, and he is a professor at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie where he coordinates the Materials Engineering department. It is our pleasure to have you, Renato!

Welcome to our next judge!

Nov. 19, 2018, 7 a.m. PST by Despina Maliaka

We are very pleased to introduce our next judge - Marcos Vernei Brum Ferreira. 


Vernai has 30 years of professional services experience as an electrical engineer. He has worked at Gerdau in the areas of Maintenance and Furnace, however has been focused on the Gerdau Feedyards for the last 20 years. Vernei is our forth judge to be announced. We are pleased to have you, Vernei!

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