Emergency Support Call and Upgrade of Steel Mill Line Controls
Application Engineer Ana Mircevska recalls how a quick response to a steel mill’s flooded basement and damaged equipment led to an upgrade of obsolete drives, PLC and HMI as well as an automatic tension control model.
Enter the flood
Heavy rains in May saturated the ground, causing a steel mill’s basement (where all the equipment that runs the line is located) to flood. This flood caused damage to the drive equipment, composed of old Robicon drives. The mill needed emergency help from a local company that was both immediately available and efficient. Based on previous experience, they called Glenmount.
As soon as the team was notified of the emergency, Glenmount engineers were sent onsite to help re-start the equipment and get the line back in production. After working long hours for about four days, the team successfully started up the line.
The existing Robicon drives, being obsolete and damaged from the flood, were showing their potential of causing production delays. This made the client realize they need to act fast and finish the upgrade of these drives.
Glenmount to the rescue
Although another system integrator was supposed to upgrade these drives and the existing Westinghouse PLC, the client awarded the work to Glenmount after the success of the emergency call. Glenmount was also local and available for any troubleshooting, and able to deliver the new equipment in a short period of time at a cost-effective price.
Glenmount performed field verification, tagging of exiting cables, running and/or terminating new cables, to allow for a successful and fast installation during the outage.
Drawings and bills of materials were created, parts were ordered, and the drives and auxiliary cabinets were assembled and quality tested. The team did a power-on test and configuration on all the drives. Since this was a partial PLC upgrade, the new system needed to be interfaced with the old system. As many IO points as possible were moved to the new PLC, which allowed for maximum logic conversion to be done.
The team worked extra hours to design, fabricate, program, and test the 23 new Siemens DCM drives for the Center Section of the line, provided fresh programming for drive control, and started the conversion of the existing Westinghouse code. A new FactoryTalk SE HMI system, with modern screens to make the operator’s work easier, was also part of the team’s effort.
During a seven-day outage, the 23 drives were installed, commissioned, and put in production together with the new PLC and HMI system. During the outage, cables were terminated, power-on checks were performed, as well as IO check out, drive tuning and commissioning.
Glenmount also provided 24-hour coverage, which ensured a successful start-up.
After startup, an important Entry Section drive (Robicon) caused a substantial production delay. Even though it was not the team’s responsibility to fix the issue, they assisted the mill with this effort. The team built a new front end and delivered it to the mill within days.
During this upgrade, a new tension control model was added in the line control. This tension model sets the line tension setpoints automatically, based on strip width and gauge, which ultimately led to better tension control.
With the new drives, PLC and HMI as well as automatic tension control model, the mill ran smoother, faster, better and with no production delays from the new drives.
Shortly after, the team was given the job to proceed with providing new drives for this Entry Section drive, which were built and delivered in a matter of a couple weeks. They were also put in place and pre-wired as much as possible to allow for a short switchover.