The sales phase for this project began in as early as 2012 and was initially limited to automation. Meticulous stakeholder analysis and an extensive site survey that we performed as part of the contract revealed several additional solutions required to deliver what the client was looking for. As a result, the project became one of the largest orders for SMS group in 2015.  

“Before the upgrade, we produced one million tons of flat steel per year. We used to produce several steel grades from low- to medium-carbon and HSLA grades and limited quantities of API and dual-phase steel. But our point of excellence is the production of thin gauges which requires highly skilled operators and perfect mill conditions. After the modernization we are looking for more added-value products such as API-X70 thicker material 12.7 millimeters in thickness, silicon steel, dual and multi-phase steel. Moreover, we are planning to produce gauges with 1.0 millimeter thickness as part of commercial production. Currently, the minimum gage is 1.2 millimeters. Factors, such as cost, efficiency and quality were certainly important elements, but also expertise and service from a reliable partner were key.”

At the time of the upgrade, EZDK had been producing one million tons of flat steel per year - ranging from low- to medium-carbon and HSLA grades to limited quantities of API and dual-phase steel. They were looking to get into more added-value products such as thicker API-X70 material, silicon steel, and dual- and multi-phase steel. Moreover, they also wanted to produce thinner 1.0-millimeter gauges to extend the portfolio beyond their then standard 1.2-millimeter thickness. They called upon SMS group’s reliable expertise to tackle the project.

In a first phase the SMS group experts conducted an on-site assessment. The aim was to identify key improvement potentials and establish a holistic plan for the modernization of EZDKs new CSP® plant. Our team went to work and executed the modernization project according to the master plan that brought everything up to date and replaced all control panels, the local operating units, and the HMI system in the CSP® system. They pre-tested and optimized the X-Pact® electrics and automation of the CSP® system with our tried-and-true X-Pact® Plug & Work concept before it was put into operation.

At our test center in Hilchenbach, we tested and optimized the automation system before installing it at the EZDK site, using realistic 3D simulation technology that captures all mechanical systems, the drive technology, and the entirety of the plant’s processes. Using the 3D design data of the plant, our simulation reproduced the dynamic, kinematic, and technical procedures in highly resolved detail. Meanwhile, our experts trained the EZDK operating and maintenance staff on the virtual plant – an invaluable operational advantage for our client, whose teams became intimately familiar with the new systems and could hit the ground running after the shutdown.

Key benefits at a glance

  • SMS group provided a full solution from a single source (mechanical and electrical equipment including respective new main &auxiliary drives, partly new measuring gauges, automation and digitalization systems)
  • We were able to implement the upgrade within a shutdown period of merely 20 days
  • Since then, EZDK’s production has been achieving record results. Going beyond the initial requirement to produce 1.0 mm strips, EZDK can now produce down to 0.8 mm with flying gauge control (FGC).
  • The impressive productivity and performance improvements include: Casting speeds went from 6 to 6.5 meters/min, heats per sequence from 7.7 to 10.8, breakout percentage from 0.45 to 0.1, plant availability up by 15%, plant productivity up by more than 10 t/h, material yield and quality yield up by 3-4%.
  • The modernization allowed EZDK to raise the share of ultra-thin hot strip, enhance the product range and improve product quality
  • After five years of using the modernized system, EZDK wanted to ensure that they thoroughly exhausted its potential and engaged SMS group for a full-service contract for its entire CSP® plant.

Fast forward to 2020: Full-service contract for CSP® plant

The Al Ezz Dekheila Steel Company decided to enter into a full-service contact with the SMS group for its entire CSP® plant. This was an easy one. Based on the partnership since 1995, EZDK knew SMS group were the ones to provide the permanent support and assistance they required.

After the first years of using the modernized system, EZDK wanted to optimally exploit all possibilities, expanding the service framework – from the new components of the modernization to the mechanical components and process technology – opening up the capability of carrying out small optimizations in the ongoing process.

The new full-service contract covered the X-Pact® electrics and automation as well as the mechanical equipment, hydraulics and process engineering. As part of this full-service contract, technical inquiries from EZDK can be addressed centrally to the service team responsible for the X-Pact® electrical and automation systems and processed around the clock by experts from SMS group.

90 percent of the support services can be provided via hotline or by tele services. Should the case arise, and field service support is required on site, experts from the respective specialist departments can be detached to the plant immediately. A BI tool was additionally implemented. Business Intelligence (BI) provides a systematic analysis for processes and procedures, gathering, evaluating and visualizing production data 24/7. The idea here is to grasp information that can be used to optimize operative and strategic decision-making in light of corporate goals. An important tool to secure the future, perspective development of the plant.

Future potentials

With their new CSP® plant and the according automation EZDK already operates one the most advanced CSP® plants in the world. Thanks to SMS groups integrated approach of bringing together automation, digitalization and according services. There are even more possibilities ahead that could be implemented in future projects. 

X-Pact® Centerline Control

Further advanced automation solutions such as X-Pact® Centerline Control, which increases the rolling stability, reduces the number of unplanned roll changes, and supports the operator with insightful visualizations. It delivers straight and safe strip guidance through the FM, especially for heads and tails. Using our X-Pact® Sense hotCAM, the system detects irregularities in the strip run early on and prevents cobbles and other critical incidents.

Digital twin

The X-Pact® Plug & Work sets the basis for establishing a digital twin of the plant. It brings together live production data with realistic 3D models of the plant. Such digital twins could for instance be used in the development of new products to be produced on the new CSP® plant or for any other online and offline optimization of the plant and its processes.

Asset Optimization Suite

Also conceivable would be our Asset Optimization Suite with predictive process supervision to monitor process and equipment health and its impact on product quality and production planning, resulting in increased transparency of all process and production-related data across the entire process chain

Quality Execution System

Predictive Quality Management with QES would provide holistic quality optimization based on decision rule sets. It can help uncover hidden quality issues and potential, and puts flexible, dynamic decision rules in the hands of QA engineers. QES captures and pools the quality data from various process stages. The software monitors, records, and ensures product and process quality along the whole production chain – from the raw material to the surface-finished final product.

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