To ensure that each production facility can contribute to the Metals Orchestra it has to fulfill certain preconditions, meaning that it must have the highest possible degree of automation combined with optimization functions and high availability. Four technological areas are instrumental in turning your plant into a true member of the Metals Orchestra: Smart sensors, automatic functions, cyber-physical systems, and condition monitoring. Data-based assistance of the workforce’s day-to-day agenda is also an important factor.
These “intelligent” sensors provide essential information about the processes taking place inside the production facility. They either directly measure physical values, or use preexisting data to calculate additional information. This information is the enabler for the implementation of advanced automatic functions, process models, as well as condition monitoring. Overall, the data obtained from smart sensors leads to greater transparency about all production steps, and makes it easier than ever before to improve those processes that could yield a higher performance.
Repetitive, labor-intensive, and dangerous work is supported by fully-automated mechatronics solutions and assistance systems. These technologies free up your staff to focus on those tasks where human interaction is actually indispensable.
The LiquiRob robot system was specially developed to improve job safety and quality of measurement under the harsh conditions found in the ironmaking and steelmaking industry. It is excellently suited to the wide variety of work activities necessary in the production process.
LiquiRob is a highly flexible robot system that meets the challenges of a number of tasks that require working with liquid metal. The robotic system is ideally installed at applications such as electric arc furnaces, steelmaking converters, in secondary metallurgy and continuous casting machines. Fully automatic measurements and procedures increase process reliability and job safety as well as flexibility, productivity and product quality. Every work activity can be monitored in the control room, where operating personnel are kept at a safe distance from hazards.
Replicating a real steel plant in a virtual version, which then becomes a “digital twin” of the real facility, is a vital new tool in next-generation model-based process control. The "digital twin" is based on both modelling and simulation of the actual plant. It can be used online to further optimize the production facility, and also offline for the simulation and development of new production strategies or products.
This allows engineers to run extensive simulations of new equipment or parameter changes before they are introduced in actual plant processes. It eliminates any disruptions in ongoing production, minimizes the risk of unexpected outcomes and makes system start-ups smoother. Using predefined script files, it facilitates tests of various production scenarios and can replay past events. The digital twin also allows for stress tests in order to predict the long-term effects of any modifications. And with optional link-ups, technologists can selectively share data to get advice from Primetals Technologies experts in real time. As an additional advantage, the offline environment can make it easier to train operators in a safe way.
Fig.1- Digital twins create a safe environment for tests and analysis
Case study: Offline simulations for superior slab quality
At its plant in Duisburg-Beeckerwerth, Germany, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe operates two slab casters that were upgraded with the advanced process models from Primetals Technologies. The upgrade also included an installation of the Maintenance and Simulation System (MSS), which features a “digital twin” simulation environment. Working offline, the Dynacs 3D secondary cooling model was able to identify uneven water spray distribution in two cooling zones of the strand. Simulations with new nozzle types performed in the MSS promised significant improvements — which fully materialized in the form of superior slab-surface quality shortly afterward, when the changes were actually introduced in production.
Comprehensive information about the condition of the equipment and the respective processes enables predictive maintenance. This helps to avoid any unplanned outages and save the associated, often very substantial, costs. Plant availability is dramatically improved, and plant productivity is considerably raised, as well.
Primetals Technologies offers a smart condition monitoring system, launched under the name “BOX Concept”. It integrates information from several plant levels and segments, carrying both metallurgical and automation know-how. By comprehensive analysis, the BOX Concept provides a solid basis for high-end predictive and proactive plant maintenance.
The BOX Concept is one of the key technologies for the transition to Industry 4.0. It provides standards and solutions that are compatible with state of the art software, hardware and cloud based servers. It employs the principles of Edge computing, thus it facilitates efficient interfacing with existing automation systems and with superimposed functions such as Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) while guaranteeing physical proximity to the machinery.