To achieve their maximum performance, many products must undergo lengthy and energy-intensive heat treatment such as an annealing process. One of the ways of annealing these items is to use electrically-heated high-temperature furnaces with zone temperature regulation, in which the products are arranged in layers. The temperature that must be achieved is preset for each heating zone. "As the annealing process requires relatively high energy use, this process needs to be optimized with respect to both conserving resources and saving on expensive energy costs," explains Gerfried Weiss, head of production at Plansee. To this end, a research project has been launched together with the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.