Production uptime boosted by new servo drives at region’s leading steelworks

Servo Drive at Bluescope Steel

Simple replacement of unreliable D.C. drives rewards BlueScope Steel with an immediate – and significant – increase in production uptime, processing accuracy and system reliability.

When you rely 100 percent on the reliability and accuracy of your machinery for your production critical processes you want 100 percent confidence in your system control solution. When you are the region’s leading flat steel products company and your industrial markets business has an annual production capacity of 5 million tonnes anything less than total reliability in your production critical machinery can impact significantly on output and – ultimately – profitability.

Port Kembla Steelworks, an integrated steel plant manufacturing both semi-finished and finished products, is home to BlueScope Steel’s Australian & New Zealand Industrial Markets business. As one of the world’s most successful steel plants any inefficiencies that compromise system reliability need to be addressed – fast. When BlueScope Steel identified production breakdowns and drive tripping on its slab-cutting and deburring processes it quickly became clear that poorly rated motors and drives, and inaccurate alarming of the drive controllers were underlying factors. These, combined with programming difficulties, hard-to-source spare parts and the highly specialised technical backup required for dedicated electronic control boards were resulting in production downtime and highlighted the need for a complete revision of the existing D.C. drive system.

Not just torque

Replacement of the existing D.C. drives was the key to the system control solution provided by Scott Automation & Robotics. Frequent drive tripping indicated insufficient power and torque sizing and the existing D.C. drives were prone to breakdown and difficult to fault find. Securing spares also proved challenging. The twelve new A.C. servo drives installed easily achieved the power and torque requirements demanded of the system and immediately resolved the drive tripping problems responsible for the earlier production losses.

The solution, however, provided more than just torque. Replacement of each new motor by maintenance personnel is now made easily and quickly thanks to the quick-release plugs and sockets connecting all equipment (drive motors) in the field. Importantly, all fittings and cables are clearly marked for ease of identification with full supporting documentation to assist with maintenance and general programming. In addition, replacement parts are easily available ‘off the shelf’ saving BlueScope Steel both time and money.

New technology has seen a reduction in modern drive size; as a result, SCOTT was able to install the new servo drives into the existing cabinets making the upgrade both economical and possible within the physical constraints of the existing control cabinet located inside the operator’s cabin.

And finally, the adaptor plates and drive couplings enabling the new motors to be attached to the existing gearboxes were retrofitted to ensure a quick and cost-effective system change over.

When a ‘quick fix’ solution is just what you need

With only one week of production shutdown available in which to replace all twelve drives SCOTT had to work fast and effectively. With this in mind the project was delivered in stages to work within BlueScope Steel’s production and budgetary schedules along with the short machine shutdown period. This involved running all twelve-axis pre-wired cables (both power and encoder) connecting to the long travel-, cross travel- and deburrer motors through the machine and along the length of the catenary support system. In addition all servo drive equipment, drivers, power supplies and resolver cards were fitted on to the gear racks, and total fabrication of the top-hat section for the mounting of analog ammeters was completed.

Upon completion of the installation factory acceptance testing with BlueScope Steel employees ensured that the system was fully operational within the machines’ and the company’s specifications and effectively minimised commissioning and onsite training time.

HMI panel

This panel, located within the control cabinet, performs amp metering of individual drives and features clearly marked quick-release plugs and sockets.

Adding up the benefits

Successful integration of the new A.C. servo drives provided BlueScope Steel with the accuracy and reliability required for its slab-cutting and de-burring operation. SCOTT was able to deliver many benefits including:

  • A comprehensive solution, which included set up, programming and commissioning of the long travel-, cross travel- and deburrer motors and drive controllers
  • A.C. servo drive integration designed for the high-speed operational requirements of BlueScope Steel
  • Installation of all servo motor drives and servo controller equipment to existing gearboxes and cabin panels, and fitting of new servo motors to existing gearboxes and mechanical drive chains
  • Maximised productivity through increased system reliability and accuracy
  • Factory acceptance testing and employee training
  • An efficient installation schedule designed to work within BlueScope Steel’s planned production shutdown period

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