After more than 40 years of operation, increasing maintenance costs had to be recognized. Increasing repair works on the steel vessel had to be done and finally it was decided to build a new furnace, which is occupied with newest technology for safe and efficient operation.
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.
Without any extra downtime outside scheduled summer shutdowns, Deutsche Giessdraht was able to start up with a new furnace where production now runs with reduced energy demand and thus more efficiently, while meeting the latest and future environmental standards.
More output, efficiency, and sustainability
Thanks to the high degree of customization required for this project, the customer also received exactly what they were looking for and was left with an equally high degree of confidence in SMS group as a “lifecycle” partner for further modernization measures.
Furthermore, energy savings were achieved by increasing the furnance height. The oven corresponds to the current safety standards according to EN746-2. An automated start-up sequence was implemented to make the oven easier to use.
Stepping into the next level of partnership
During the very close collaboration with this customer, we established a trusted relationship that will undoubtedly lead to further projects. On the top of the list are other modernizations that allow the customer to save more energy – especially in light of current gas shortages. As with all other plants commissioned by SMS group, we delivered this facility digital-ready - primed for future digitalization projects that can further boost output, performance, environmental compliance, maintenance efficiency and profitability.
SMS group is now working together with Deutsche Giessdraht to establish a furnace monitoring with a camera system. In the first step, recordings are carried out through the burners in order to observe the bulk material. In the next step, these images will be evaluated by means of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and recommendations for action will be given to the operator.
SMS group and Deutsche Giessdraht now work closely together on the use of alternative energies for melting copper.