Enhanced Slagging Elevates Melt Shop Automation Package

Jan. 22, 2010
As induction furnaces grow larger and faster, automated systems are the best alternative for operators to maintain reliable performance.
The ARMS® System robot shown with attached clamshell slagging tool to remove slag from a standard, non-backtilting furnace.

One of the original clamshell slagging tools, without robot intervention.

With the recent release of the ARMS® (Automated Robotic Melt Shop) System, Inductotherm continues to make innovative products that help advance the foundry industry. The newly developed system has already proved that it is able to quickly and accurately perform all required operational tasks previously handled by humans. The most desirable feature is by far the ability to slag the furnace. When the system was first introduced to the market, the robot made its debut backslagging and since then has proved that it can just as easily handle clamshell slagging, making it ideal for retrofit to all large furnace configurations whether equipped with backslagging or not.

For backslagging to be effective, the furnace must allow enough reverse tilt so that sufficient surface area of the bath is exposed and at the proper height in relation to the rear slag spout. This allows the robot to remove all of the slag from the furnace directly into the slag cart in a quick and efficient manner.

The ARMS® System relocates the furnace operator away from the melt deck and replaces the furnace operator with a foundry robot that has integrated slag removal, tool handling and remote viewing systems. The robot performs the hazardous operations that would otherwise be handled directly by the furnace operator. This allows the operator to run melt shop operations from the control room and away from the dangerous areas close to the furnace, significantly improving worker safety. The bath is divided into zones and the robot is taught several patterns so the operator can choose to slag the complete bath or re-slag specific areas as needed.

The majority of furnaces already installed are standard, non-backtilting furnaces. These types of furnaces can often be the most difficult to slag since they provide no backtilting to bring the top of the furnace bath to a more manageable angle. Without the help of any automation, the furnace operator must stand immediately next to the furnace and physically lift the slag from the molten metal bath. Even with the furnace operator wearing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and taking the necessary precautions, the furnace operator is in danger from molten metal splash, physical strain and extreme heat. With the help of minimal automation, the physical strain to the operator can be avoided by using a clamshell slagger that is controlled by a handheld device. Yet, it alone is not able to remove the man from the melt deck entirely.

But now there is a new, safer and highly recommended alternative that is able to relocate the furnace operator off the melt deck during operation – the ARMS® System. Depending on the location of the control room, the operator can either watch the robot operate the clamshell device or use remote cameras to view the interaction. The cameras are able to provide a much better viewing angle of the furnace bath. At the command of the operator, the robot retrieves the clamshell slagging tool from its stand and brings it over to the furnace. Again, the operator can enter pre-programmed information and allow the ARMS® System to slag the complete furnace or he can choose to re-slag specific areas.

As induction furnaces grow larger and faster, automated systems prove to be the best equipment to enhance each process and keep pace. Automated systems are helping to effectively maximize operator safety and production while minimizing costs and reducing energy consumption. Automated processes are precisely repeatable, ensuring consistency and improved productivity shift after shift. While safety is the primary concern, using a mechanized slagging device and/or industrial robot can greatly speed slag removal from the bath, reducing production downtime and labor costs.

Emad Tabatabaei is the Director of Technology with Inductotherm Corp. Visit