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Hilchenbach, October 06, 2020

Modernization with digital worksite assistance

Digital tools help SSAB and SMS group to realize modernization of gear units

Jointly with its customer SSAB, SMS group has carried out a modernization project with digital support.

For its production location in Raahe, Finland, SSAB awarded an order to SMS group to supply new mill pinion drives for two finishing stands operating in the hot strip mill. These new mill pinion drives were to replace the old gear units, which had been in operation for many decades, and designed to meet the future planned capacity increase.

The gear units were replaced during a long-scheduled shutdown in July 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the project was accompanied by specific challenges that could be mastered by both partners applying the latest digital technology. In particular, digital communication media were used by SMS group for technical assistance before and during the replacement of the gear units. Without the option of digital assistance, the modernization project would have had to be postponed to a much later date.

Hardware and software for the customer

Long before the planned shutdown, a multi-disciplinary team of SMS group experts was concerned with testing and selecting appropriate software and hardware for this “digital worksite”. Particular attention was paid to such aspects as work safety, ergonomics and suitability for the harsh environmental conditions in a hot rolling mill. Another important criterion was easy and intuitive operation of the selected software and hardware.

Finally, the decision was made in favor of a special rugged drop-proof tablet and safety-helmet-mounted Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. Completely preconfigured with several software modules, these tools were supplied to SSAB.

This way, the staff of SSAB was able to operate the digital equipment just after a very short familiarization phase. One of the first tasks was to check the supplied equipment in an Open Package Inspection (OPI). This was performed online with the aid of a tablet software application. The results were immediately documented. Similar applications were available for daily progress monitoring and deadline control. In addition, all documents discussed in the daily meetings were automatically saved in an online diary.

Win-win situation

Both project partners expressed their full satisfaction with the digitally handled project implementation at Raahe. “This kind of cooperation makes project handling much easier. If so required, experts from both sides may join the online meetings thus making the discussions very effective. To both parties, customer SSAB as well as SMS group, this is a win-win situation,” summarizes Karl-Friedrich Müller, Sales/ Project Management CSP® at SMS group, the experience gained from this digital cooperation.

Thanks to the camera technology applied we were able to keep the experts in Germany up to date about what was going on at the worksite. Alpo Riekki, Project Manager at SSAB

Alpo Riekki, Project Manager at SSAB, supplements: “Generally speaking, we are highly impressed by the digital support services rendered by SMS group. Thanks to the camera technology applied we were able to keep the experts in Germany up to date about what was going on at the worksite. Last but not least, the computer-aided reporting function was very helpful as it simultaneously saves and stores an electronic log file. We are definitely considering to use the system also for future projects.”

Custom-tailored, top-quality gear units
Every single tooth is tested.

After SMS group had received the order for the project from SSAB, the engineers of SMS group examined the foundation situation in Raahe and designed the gear units such that the existing anchor bolts and foundations could be reused. Using the Advanced Gear Design technology, the gearing was designed to meet the future, higher loads also in the long term.

To ensure the operational reliability of the gear units SMS group counts on consistent quality management starting with an exact specification and control of the materials to be used. Especially for the toothed components that have to bear high loads it is essential to check and completely document during and after each production step whether or not the specified properties and dimensions have been attained. This ensures the gear unit will permanently meet the high requirements.