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Magazine6 Min

New "easy-to-maintain" concept for downcoilers

Improved accessibility and shorter exchange times of core components

Downcoilers are a key component of a hot strip mill, capable of coiling a wide range of strips up to 32 millimeters thick and 2600 millimeters wide. Our hot strip mill experts developed a new “easy to maintain” downcoiler concept that resulted in improved accessibility and shorter change times for core components.

While it is certainly true that our downcoilers have a very long service life lasting several decades, certain items of core equipment, such as hydraulic cylinders, wrapper rolls, or curved apron plates, need to be replaced from time to time. With our latest downcoiler concept, accessibility for equipment maintenance crews has been considerably improved, with change times up to 60% shorter. With the implementation of process automation, digital and service in the downcoilers, we are unlocking untapped optimization potential, even after they are put into operation.

New stationary downcoiler design

Our customers continually call for higher plant availability. Any scheduled or unscheduled shutdown periods for replacing defective equipment need to be reduced to a minimum. That is why hot strip mill experts places a particular focus on increasing its lifetime while at the same time developing solutions that ensure a fast exchange of worn-out or malfunctioning components.

In past years, SMS group supplied retractable downcoilers that enabled maintenance activities to be performed outside of the line. Nowadays, safety regulations do not allow maintenance to be carried out during ongoing production. Consequently, we developed a new generation of stationary downcoilers that combine the well-known robust design with safer and easier accessibility for maintenance work.

The new stationary downcoiler is a modular construction that provides sufficient space for various dismantling devices on the operator and drive sides. The design of all modules has been validated by FEA calculations. Handling the equipment for maintenance purposes is easier, and the change times can be reduced significantly thanks to the use of dismantling devices.

Previous design: Retractable downcoiler. The downcoiler housing with the drive base frame has been moved approximately six meters out of the line for maintenance.
New design: stationary downcoiler
New design: Downcoiler with dismantling devices for wrapper roll cylinders

Integrated solutions to boost plant performance

Combined with the new mechanical design of the downcoiler, SMS group brings together all its expertise in electrics/automation, digitalization and technical service to maintain and enhance the performance of hot strip mills throughout their entire lifecycle. The focus here is on key performance indicators such as plant availability, product quality, and process stability.

Precision is key when it comes to wrapping steel strips. That’s where the X-Pact® Automation system comes in, providing the coiling process with improved accuracy and reliability. It is well known that the start of coiling is a challenging process: depending on the steel grades and strip sizes involved, considerable forces and torques are required when coiling the strip directly from its front edge. These forces and torques cause significant loads and stresses on the mechanical equipment. SMS group has developed and continually fine-tuned a simulation tool for the downcoiler area that delivers the required forces and torques for the dimensional limit range. This provides the basis for the robust design of the downcoiler equipment, which is verified using FEA calculations for all critical components. Improperly starting the coiling process can leave marks on the strip. Precise and reliable measurements, along with accurate tracking of the strip’s head end, are crucial for downcoiler operation. X-Pact® Automatic Step Control mitigates many of these issues by lifting each wrapper roll slightly above the strip thickness as the strip’s front edge approaches, and then gently lowering it after the edge has passed. This ensures a smooth, controlled wrap without exerting undue pressure on the strip.

The benefits are clear: a quieter and faster initial wrap procedure, no surface marks on the first few wraps, and straight edges for the coils. Not to mention the fact that the reduced strain on the downcoiler’s mechanical components extends the life of the equipment.

Hot strip mill pulpit for the complete mill from the roughing mill to the downcoilers.

Operational technology meets information technology

As a leading systems integrator in the metals industry, we intelligently combine operational and information technology. HSMXpert is specifically designed to monitor and analyze hot strip mill conditions, including the downcoiler area, to improve production functionality and efficiency. HSMXpert turns hot strip mill data into actionable insights. It ensures equipment safety, efficiency, and reliability through predictive and prescriptive optimization.

Furthermore, the Genius CM® system continuously monitors the condition of the equipment and sends live information on the components and warning messages, taking quality and availability to a whole new level. The condition monitoring software is a modular online system for permanent downcoiler monitoring. It records process data, compares the findings with set tolerances, and triggers an alarm if limit values are exceeded. In this way, it can prevent considerable damage from overloading and unforeseeable subsequent damage before it occurs.

Enhanced equipment with X-Roll® Service

Coupled with mechanical expertise, SMS group’s comprehensive X-Roll® Service packages cover the entire lifecycle of the machinery, guaranteeing high availability levels for downcoiler equipment. These packages enhance customer value by minimizing unplanned production issues with SMS equipment.

Long-term contracts expedite repair times and spare parts provisioning through SMS group’s dedicated in-house spare parts inventory, ensuring maximum flexibility.

Mandrel repair cycle: Conventional repair vs. mandrel repair contract with inventory holding

Our services extend beyond mere repairs and spare parts. They deliver a multitude of benefits to customers, streamlining operations and bolstering the bottom line. By partnering with SMS group, customers can expect a superior service experience that not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures smarter resource management. In the event of any issues, the responsible service team rapidly addresses and resolves them, reducing order handling times and the risk of unplanned downtimes.

Through its commitment to innovation and excellence, and by leveraging advanced technologies, our downcoilers to achieve unparalleled precision and consistency in operation. This also ensures that hot strip mills run as efficiently and productively as possible, staying ahead of the curve in a highly competitive market.

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