The 3.5-m heavy plate mill of our customer Handan Iron & Steel went online in 2006. After a major modernization in 2014, which already improved the plant in terms of product quality and product portfolio, Handan decided in 2021 to relocate the plant. In line with that reallocation, the customer assigned us with upgrading the plant even further and integrating an additional millstand into our X-Pact® automation system.

This project really shows that a plant is always a living system. After having built the plant in 2006 Handan already seven years later decided to revamp the plant. The steel market in China had changed and called for high strength steel grades with higher surface quality.

The steel market was very good and our purpose was to meet the requirements of the common customers. The strength grade reached Q460 and surface quality meet the needs of common customers. Nowadays, with the market development and the intense competition, customers have a large demand for high strength steel grades with higher surface quality. Therefore, we were urgent to carry out the upgrade.
New combined spray & laminar cooling system

Major tasks of 2014´s modernization

We were assigned with the job, modernized major parts, and equipped it with components that are more powerful. We were able to meet customer requirements and improved the product quality in terms of flatness, edge quality and geometry. Also we extended the product portfolio, the plant was able to produce.

Conversion of the finishing stand:

  • New hydraulic adjusting systems for closest thickness tolerances
  • New work-roll bending systems
  • 3-point thickness and profile gage with integrated width measuring function
  • Two roller tables to raise the production capacity during thermomechanical rolling.
  • Update of level 1 and level 2 automation including X-Pact® pass schedule calculation (PSC®) and profile and flatness control (PCFC®)

New combined spray & laminar cooling system:
Replacement of the existing equipment by a system which combines spray cooling and laminar cooling.

New pre-leveler:
The existing hot-plate leveler was relocated to the upstream side of the new plate cooling system. Serving as a pre-leveler, it removes flatness defects which may impair uniform plate cooling.

Hot-plate leveler for better flatness:
The hot-plate leveler will be of the 9-roll design to handle plates in thicknesses of 8 to 100 mm. The optimal leveling strategy for each plate wascalculated by our X-Pact® leveling model on the basis of the material properties and the plate geometry.

New double-side trimming shear for higher throughput:
New double-side trimmer operating to the rolling-cut principle. This cutting mode ensures extremely precise cuts and good edge quality. The new shear will be designed to perform up to 30 cuts/min.

Control pulpit of quatro millstand

Moving to a new location

After another seven years of successful operation Handan decided to relocate the plant to another location due to sustainability reasons. Again it was on us to get the job done. During the project, the customer not only decided to relocate the plant. Additionally, Handan supplied another millstand which had to be included into the X-Pact® process automation.

We brought the level 1 and level 2 X-Pact® automation system, up to a latest state of the art level and successfully integrated the additional millstand into all systems.  After only 6 weeks the plant was back online and  the head of the HBIS plate mill, Bu Kai, praised the SMS group project team:

"An outstanding team from SMS group's Electrics and Automation unit supported us in this relocation project and fought hard to achieve a jointly successful outcome."

The current adaptation of the production line configuration from one 4-high millstand to two 4-high millstands meant that the customer's annual production was doubled to two million tons.

The contractually requested delivery time for the electrical components of only eight months was met in spite of the global hardware shortage problem. The general commissioning was successfully completed in a record time of six weeks until the first plate was produced.

It was only thanks to the close and collaborative partnership between all parties involved that the project could be implemented in full and on schedule within the specified time frame.

The fast ramp-up of the entire mill was already clear when the first three plates rolled were of marketable quality.

Future potentials

Since Handan now operates a state-of-the-art automation system, the plate mill brings the best pre-conditions to go even further. For instance, it would be possible to install our Genius Condition Monitoring. The system gathers data right from the automation systems and is capable of prediction downtimes and machine failure even before they occur. Installing the system could for instance at gearboxes or alike would cut down unplanned downtimes.

Additionally, in order to keep up with ever-increasing quality demand in the market Handan could install the QES®. QES collects and consolidates quality data from different stages of the production process, ensuring the product and process quality is maintained throughout the entire chain, from raw materials to the finished product. Rules are applied at each stage to verify if quality standards meet customer specifications.

The system provides decision-making support necessary for the plant's operation, process chain, and delivery of final products. QES enables successful operation and production of high-quality goods, resulting in reduced operating costs and increased customer satisfaction levels upon implementation.