Franck Adjogble and Wolfgang Spies, both SMS group engineers, received the AIST James Farrington Award 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pa., USA, on the 7th of May for their work entitled “Holistic Approach of High Quality Flat Steel Production – Dynamic Production Scheduling in Respect to Process Quality, Control System and Plant Condition”. The AIST James Farrington Award was established in 2005 to honor James Farrington, founder and first president of AISE and his vision for iron and steel companies to join together, present papers, share mutual problems and set standards for the improvement of electrical machinery and processes. The award was presented to the author of the paper Franck Adjogble, and Co-Authors Harald Rackel, Gregor Schneider, Klaus Pronold, Wolfgang Spies, Hans-Georg Jentsch. The paper was judged by the Electrical Applications Technology Committee to be the best technical paper submitted at AIST conference.
SMS group is a global, leading partner for the metal industry. As a family-owned business headquartered in Germany the plant builder is committed to quality and innovation. SMS group’s customers cover the entire value chain of the global metal industry.
As a systems supplier, SMS group supplied all the plants and process know-how for the steel complex of Big River Steel, Osceola in the United States, and has supported Big River Steel during commissioning. Ever since starting operations, Big River Steel has achieved a steep run-up curve in hot strip production. Covering a site of 567 hectares, Big River Steel is North America’s most modern steelworks. In the first construction stage, the plant is designed for 1.6 million tons per year of steel. The steelmaking plant went on stream together with the CSP® plant in December 2016.
The CSP® plant consists of a CSP® continuous caster, a tunnel furnace, a CSP® rolling mill, a laminar cooling section and a downcoiler. Capable of rolling a maximum strip width of 1,930 millimeters, Big River Steel’s CSP® mill is the widest in North America. The hot strip from the CSP® rolling mill is further processed in the coupled pickling/tandem mill. There it is processed into high-quality cold strip. Together with the two downstream strip-processing lines, the tandem mill produces a wide range of products. Also integrated in the continuous process route is an annealing and galvanizing line with an inline skin-pass mill for hot-dip galvanized cold strip. What makes the offline skin-pass mill stand out is its very high rolling force. The X-Pact® electrical and automation systems solution was applied in all process stages from steelmaking to the strip-processing plant. It ensured the steelmaking complex went into production right on schedule in December 2016, then achieved a steep run-up curve. Big River Steel also uses the X-Pact® MES 4.0 which took immediately over production planning and control. Now Big River Steel has the capacity to produce strip in widths of between 914 and 1,880 millimeters and gages of 1.4 to 0.28 millimeters.
To ensure top quality, Big River Steel uses the PQA® (Product Quality Analyzer) system SMS group developed in cooperation with the subsidiary MET/Con Metallurgical Plant & Process Consulting. The PQA® system collects and evaluates quality data of all products produced at all steps as well as quality-relevant process parameters along the entire process chain, from steelmaking to the finished product. Here, the process parameters can consist of measured values and results, but also complex criteria applied for quality analysis.
Big River Steel is mastering flexible production planning with fluctuating and partly small batch sizes while adhering to deadlines supported by this set-up with SMS group’s approach for digitalization or the learning steel mill. It ensures intelligent, largely autonomous steel production. This involves the interconnection and collaboration of humans and machines across the entire value chain in dynamic production processes that adjust to optimum parameters in real time. Digitalization is not an end in itself; it is rather a means to further increase productivity and thus profitability as well as increase the flexibility and the resilience of the installed value chain.
The prevailing architectural view of a Smart Factory considers AI, Data Science and related technologies to be the next higher level, a layer on top of existing conventional plant automation and information systems. In contrast, the SMS’ philosophy, called “Learning Factory”, integrates these new and emerging technologies into a synergy with the conventional, well-established systems.
The paper “Holistic Approach of High Quality Flat Steel Production – Dynamic Production Scheduling in Respect to Process Quality, Control System and Plant Condition” describes the implementation of the Learning steel mill concept at Big River Steel – the world’s first ‘Learning’ Steel Mill.
SMS group is a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It has some 14,000 employees who generate worldwide sales of about EUR 3 billion. The sole owner of the holding company SMS GmbH is the Familie Weiss Foundation.