The major challenge for SMS group on this ambitious and extensive modernization project was twofold: First, to get it done with as little impact as possible on our customer’s profitability – i.e., with as little downtime as possible. Secondly, as this was a brownfield project, everything had to be customized in order to fit the new within the existing plant – which came down to fundamental questions like whether the existing plant foundation was stable enough for the new equipment.
There was only one way to get there - have an airtight plan and execute methodically. The SMS group team began with an extensive fact-finding audit to ascertain the plant’s performance improvement potential, followed by a feasibility study. That resulted in the two-phased approach, which began with new gas supply safety components and gas control systems, the implementation of the SMS Metrics analysis tool, and a brand-new automation system to guarantee efficient process control and to deliver a digital-ready plant.
In the next phase, the meticulous planning of the SMS group team proved invaluable: in only three weeks, during the scheduled summer shutdown of 2019, the entire cathode shaft furnace was replaced and began operation. After three weeks, the modernization was finalized and production startup was succesful.