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Düsseldorf, June 25, 2018

Product Quality Analyzer - The digital way to maximizing quality

PQA® (Product Quality Analyzer) perfectly combines the comprehensive process know-how of MET/Con and an efficient quality assurance software particularly adapted to the needs of the metallurgical sector to form a powerful solution for the metal industry.

  • Expertise is usually transferred in writing or verbally, but this involves the risk of getting lost in many places. 
  • PQA® serves to transfer the knowledge online and related to the respective application, for example in the form of quality rules or production information, thus providing first-class decision support paired with clear recommendations to act for production. 
  • The PQA® rules can be adapted to the individual needs of the customer. Responsibility for that task is with the experts of MET/Con, a company of SMS group.

Traditional advisory services in the fields of know-how, process and quality are based on the transfer of expertise to customers on site either in writing or verbally. However, this method has the disadvantage that knowledge may get lost in many places, for example, when an employee leaves the company or the knowledge does not reach all of the staff members needing it in their daily routine. PQA® solves this problem by providing the knowledge online and related to the respective application, in the form of quality rules and production information, and by presenting professional advice directly during the production process. PQA® thus offers first-class decision support and gives clear recommendations to act for production and along the whole process chain. PQA® was developed by MET/Con Metallurgical Plant & Process Consulting GmbH, a company of SMS group. The MET/Con team prepares the PQA® rules in cooperation with the customer, based on empirical values and the vast expertise of the MET/Con specialists.

Rule-based instructions

PQA® supervises, documents and safeguards process and product quality over the entire processing chain from steelmaking up to the refined cold strip or other intermediate and finished products. To that end, all relevant production and process data are recorded and continuously analyzed according to preset rules. In the case of quality deviations, the system will provide clear instructions permitting possible defects during the production process to be indicated and corrective action to be initiated in due time. For that purpose, the products are checked after each process step to see whether they are suitable for the next process step and for achieving the desired final quality. PQA® effectively supports the user in making up his decision on the quality of a pre-, intermediate or finished product and to block or release it for the next processing step respectively for supply. A further result of this analysisis a freely configurable quality report for all product key parameters, which may be set against the order data. The product purchasers thus benefit from a continuously controlled quality standard and a consistently documented production process.

Reputed producers rely on PQA®

The PQA® know-how, quality assurance and software technology have been developed over the past five years and applied in the plants of reputed steel producers worldwide.

  • The PQA® system is the centerpiece of the new CSP® minimill at Big River Steel, U.S.A. Here, quality is controlled to this approach from steelmaking to the finished hot or cold rolled and galvanized product. After an implementation period of eight weeks, the system presented Big River Steel considerable cost savings and quality improvements.
  • Furthermore, PQA® is used in the new flat steel complex of Shandong Iron and Steel in Rizhao, China. In thisgreenfield project, production of automotive grades is controlled throughout the complete process. In addition, PQA® is integrated in the company’s new heavy-plate and Steckel mills.
  • In China, PQA® was also implemented in the new highperformance hot-dip galvanizing line at Benxi Steel.
  • Moreover, the system will be installed in Indonesia at PT Krakatau Steel’s new hot strip mill in the near future.
  • Recently, long product producer Swiss Steel at Emmenbrücke, Switzerland, awarded an order to MET/Con covering the supply of a PQA® system for quality management along the complete production chain. The systemwill be applied to produce engineering steel and bright steel products.
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Experienced experts help determine the quality rules to be integrated in the PQA® for each quality-relevant process step and to be applied whenever required.
PQA® system modules

The PQA® is of modular design with the flexible software structure suited to group various modules depending on the respective application. In addition to the functions required for quality control, supplementary modules also cover applications in the field of Big Data analysis and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This makes it possible to show previously unknown, new correlations with the aid of various intelligent, mathematical evaluation methods including pattern recognition options.

DIS – Data Integration Studio

  • DIS is the foundation of PQA®. It serves to structure the collected data and keep them ready for further processing.

PDW – Production Data Warehouse

  • PDW is a database for intelligent structuring of information from different plants to facilitate the analysis of fault causes along the entire process chain.

LD – LogicDesigner

  • LD is used to concentrate and combine to PQA® quality rules all the knowledge spread over several automation levels, written on paper, or existing inside the heads of employees and at MET/Con.

QM – QualityMonitor

  • The QM serves to continuously assess the product on the basis of rules at constant quality. WR&A – Web Reporting & Analysis The WR&A module creates freely configurable reports and makes them available in a browser application.

SPC – Statistical Process Control

  • SPC is the traditional, statistical analyzing tool for quality and process evaluation.

DC – DataCorrelator

  • DC is an advanced analyzing tool to perform a fault cause analysis in a process chain and, on the basis of the results thereof, to create new intelligent rules to improve quality.

PPS – Proactive Process Supervision

  • The PPS continuously supervises the condition of the plant. It identifies deviations and provides clear instructions to the staff to prevent any quality issues and unplanned downtimes.
Advantages of product quality analyzers (PQA®)
  • Quality is not a matter of the last process step, but is generated along the entire production route: PQA® reveals its full potential when used along the entire production and process chain. Nevertheless, the system will come with benefits and savings, if just parts of the process chain or individual lines like galvanizing or annealing lines are analyzed.
  • Saving production costs: Since critical quality deviations are identified early, the further processing of substandard materials is blocked. This saves energy, resources, manpower and time. In addition, the systematical support helps reduce the workload of the staff.
  • Increased yield and improved quality at every process stage: Early reallocation of substandard material or provision of repair recommendations increases the yield and the quality level at every process step.
  • Transparent production process: Consistent material tracking and remote access to the system through web-based reports make the production process more transparent and speed up optimization processes. Moreover, long-term storage of process-relevant data helps understand and trace the origin of quality problems.
  • Creating confidence: The transparent and quality-oriented production process makes sure the material supplied to the customers will be of constant quality, and it creates confidence that for each process step all quality-relevant data are documented and stored.umented and stored.