Unscheduled standstills of casting plants in the steel industry cost a fortune. Automation solutions from Eckelmann ensure the safe and precise process control in continuous casting. Productivity and quality are thus considerably increased.
Casting plants in the steel industry
Continuous casting is a process whereby molten steel is converted into either (thin) slabs or billets, which are then processed into a metal semi-finished product or bar stock (e.g. rounds).
The operation of continuous casting plants makes high demands on automation. As an innovation partner of major plant engineering companies, Eckelmann has for many years developed automation solutions for process control in casting plants.
What is most important is the precise, highly dynamic mould level control. It is crucial for the quality of the material surface and for a homogeneous microstructure.
Shaken, not stirred
Mould oscillation (vertical oscillation) is another key factor in casting. Together with the casting powder, it prevents the adhesion of the steel strand to the mould wall.
A highly dynamic control ensures that the relative motion between mould and strand will remain constant at each oscillation. High productivity and product quality are ensured by the adjustment of production parameters such as stroke frequency, stroke height and curve shape to the product.
In the automation of thin-slab casting plants, the control technology included the mould level control and hydraulic oscillation as well as the hydraulic segment adjustment and the bending and straightening device unit (hydraulic controls).
Because of the high demands on reliability and performance, the controllers used for this are based on multibus and VMEBus systems. Platforms for the applications are real-time operating systems such as IRMX and VxWorks.
A SIMATIC S7 400 from Siemens was used for the basic automation of a billet casting plant. The technological control systems – for the mould level control, amongst others – were implemented with FM 458 from Siemens, an application module designed for technological tasks.
The visualisation of the plants was realised with HMI systems from Wonderware (InTouch) and Siemens (WINCC).
- High plant availability in continuous casting through automation
- Highly dynamic control of mould level and mould oscillation
- Intuitive process visualisation with InTouch and WINCC
- Integrated quality data logging