By Sujay Nandi
In an integrated steel plant, Blast Furnace (BF) produces liquid hot metal from iron ore by reduction process. The hot molten iron tapped from Blast furnace is transported to Steel Making Shop (SMS) by way of special rail cars known as Torpedo Ladle Cars (TLC) to reduce the levels of carbon and other impurity elements to produce different grades of steel. The ladle is a torpedo shaped vessel, lined inside with refractory and mounted on a rail car. Necessary gear arrangements with motors are installed in the car itself to tilt the torpedo ladle along its axis. Generally, the TLC rail network encompasses the entire plant premises, connecting BF, SMS, repairing shops/ parking area for TLC and also Pulling Pit.
The TLC, rail network and movement of TLC and its controlling play an important role in a steel plant for its efficient operation and production.
In Steel Plant, there are multiple movement (20 to 40) of TLC occurs, with multiplexed allotment of rail lines on shared basis to transport the hot metal from BF to SMS, return back to BF, wait for its turn & is diverted to the siding or to the pooling pit and to the TLC repair shop. The movement to all these areas on sharing common railway line with bidirectional movement is controlled based on time based multiplexing by involving following state-of-the-art technologies integrated on IIoT based platform.
1. Global Positioning or Radio Frequency Identification based TLC Tracking System. 2.Rail Car Detection and Signalling through HMI: Axle Counter Evaluation counter Signal Interlocking along with rail level crossing control and main track occupancy 3.In Motion Weigh Bridge To manage this huge infrastructure and its Asset Performance Management pose a stiff challenge and its smooth functioning has a substantial impact on overall productivity of the plant. Efficient co-ordination of TLC’s and proper Asset Performance Management ensure minimum hot metal dumping, maximum supply of molten metal to SMS, minimize downtime and maximize availability of the system. For the efficient co-ordination, operation, maintenance, spare management, life management etc, IIoT based sensor and system architecture are essential in recent era. The online information system enables accurate & fast tracking of TLCs, including their status, weight, enabling better flow management and also ensures proper spare management and scheduling to minimize downtime and maximize availability of the system.
The basic key features are - On line data of hot metal production in BF and consumption in SMS IIoT based on line tracking of TLC position & their weight. System prediction of TLC condition and TLC relining schedule. Breakdown & maintenance reports of TLC. On line chemical composition of hot metal for getting desired steel grade at SMS. Also organising two way movement of TLC on shared Railway track & organising road bound traffic control at the various railway crossings.
This TLC management can be eased and made more efficient and productive through the installation of TLC tracking, signalling and in motion weighing system based on IIoT platform.
The IIoT based SMART machine consists of embedded SMART sensors with automation technology, having big data handling, machine-to-machine communication capability. These are continuously recording and communicating real-time data for cloud computing. This real time data helps to point out problems faster, increase plant efficiency, decrease plant downtime and also support business intelligence for better productivity.
It provides predictive maintenance for better field service and asset tracking. Based on real-time data, IIoT systems predicts the defects/problems of TLC, signalling-tracking system, weighing system, before it hampers the production, enabling users to address those before it fails or shut down. IIoT technology helps field service technicians to identify potential issues in the TLC & its supporting equipment. It also helps Asset tracking to track the location, status and condition for preventive action. IIoT also improves facility management. In short, the IIoT enabled SMART machines with edge devices helps manufacturer to collect and analyse data of the machine and speaks out about how TLC and accessory systems are being performing, enabling manufacturers to build more customer-centric product roadmaps.
TCE has in-house capability and expertise to render their services to client for traffic density analysis of Hot metal & road traffic movement, debottlenecking by simulation, automation of railway & road crossing, optimisation of TLC movement, interface engineering with higher level automation etc in conjunction with IIoT based systems for better health and asset performance management.