ABB launches smart factory solution for steel melt shop operations

ABB Australia Pty Ltd

Thursday, 02 December, 2021

ABB launches smart factory solution for steel melt shop operations

ABB has launched ABB Ability Smart Melt Shop, a smart factory digital application for the metals industry. The company said it is designed to increase melt shop productivity, save energy and improve employee safety, with payback within six months.

Based on digital algorithms, the solution is claimed to be unique in that it offers not only powerful real-time ladle tracking but also automated crane scheduling and a predictive thermal modelling engine. The tracking engine follows ladle movement via cranes and transfer cars in real time. Radar and laser positioning technologies provide visualisation while reducing hardware footprint and maintenance needs compared to radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions. The automated crane scheduling includes job forecasting, route planning and automatic acknowledgement of jobs.

The aim is to enable steelmakers to move towards autonomous operations by eliminating manual coordinations, with increased safety in hot zones due to lower footfall.

The thermal engine function uses ladle thermal history from the tracking engine and forecasted heat movement from scheduling engines to predict the thermal loss during ladle transfer and predicts the correct lift temperature at ladle furnace. This results in better superheat compliance at the caster, eliminating caster slowdowns, hence increasing productivity.

ABB said that steelmakers can expect ABB Ability Smart Melt Shop to help increase superheat compliance to enable 4–5% higher casting speeds to improve productivity and reduce arcing by 5°C per heat in ladle furnaces for increased energy and cost efficiency.

“We’re proud to launch ABB Ability Smart Melt Shop — the first of its kind in the metals industry, enabling steelmakers to digitally connect all processes and moving equipment in the melt shop, achieving synchronised operations and removing bottlenecks in production capacity,” said Tarun Mathur, Global Product Manager, Metals Digital, ABB. “The digitalisation of core processes will drive new levels of productivity, safety and sustainability outcomes for the metals sector.”

This application uses all standard communications protocols, employs ABB’s multi-layered defence-in-depth approach to cybersecurity and is compatible with both ABB and third-party systems.

Image: ©stock.adobe.com/au/davit85

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