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Steel sampling steps that previously had been manual processes will be handled by robotic automation system, removing workers from the hazardous area. The high-volume system will be installed in three stages, starting this spring.

Complex, Robotized Molten-Metal Sampling, Probing

May 19, 2015
Steelmaker installing three-part system to collect, manipulate steel samples in high-volume melt shop Robots manipulate probes on three furnaces Higher sublance availability, greater safety Exchangeable probes simplify handling 

A high-volume steelmaking operation is preparing to modernize its steel sampling process in a three-furnace melt shop, making the process of probing, testing and handling of molten steel safer at the same time. Austria’s voestalpine Stahl GmbH ordered three robotic systems from Primetals Technologies that will manipulate the probes in three basic oxygen furnaces at the Linz Works. Steps that previously had been manual processes will be handled by the automation system, removing workers from the hazardous area.

The systems will be installed and activated in three-month stages, starting this summer. Each of the systems will be installed and commissioned over five-day relining shutdowns for the three furnaces. The Linz Works already uses several Primetals robotic system on the pouring platforms of its continuous casting machines. The Works has three, 200-ton converters, each producing over 30 melts per day. They have been equipped with sublances, though those systems’ probe manipulators are now due for replacement. Each manipulator will be replaced by a handling system consisting of a robot and a probe magazine.

Each robot will be equipped with a dedicated measuring probe magazine designed as an exchangeable container. This will simplify the handling of the probes and increase reliability and availability, according to the system developer.

In addition to sampling, the robots handle tasks like cleaning the contact bar, monitoring the probe holder, and performing correcting movements, which will reduce maintenance requirements.

Primetals Technologies will deliver three robot systems, the associated exchangeable container magazines, and for each converter three sets of 63 probes, probe buffers, sublance centering devices, a maintenance platform, and a LanceGuard measuring system monitor.

The contractor also will install and integrate the new systems.

Because the system is designed so that the robot takes the probes directly out of an exchangeable container, it can be effectively installed where space is limited.

The robot has a camera system to recognize the different types of probe. Also, it can reject probes identified as faulty by the measuring system and set aside probes that malfunction during measuring, for analysis later.

To ensure high-accuracy measuring, the entire sequence (involving the probe, contact bar, cabling and evaluation unit) is automatically tested and verified by the LanceGuard at regular intervals.  Other robotic functions include testing the probes and disposing of used probes after measurement.

Automatic testing and cleaning of the contact bar, measurement of the probe holder, and automatic movement correction are further advantages that increase the system’s service life and reduce maintenance.

The entire system will be assembled and tested, and all functional sequences will be lab tested in advance so that plant availability and productivity will be achieved as quickly as possible.