Quick as a flash: the Steel Lab 2 minutes spent reading

Quick as a flash: the Steel Lab

Viktoria Steiniger (Maternity Leave)
Holds editorial responsibility for blog topics, is researching and writing articles. Her stories give insights into the world of the voestalpine Group.

The new and fully automated Steel Lab, which is used to determine the chemical composition of test samples from the LD process, transmits the result to the operator online and in just 60 seconds.

The new Steel Lab delivers a result quickly and fully automatically

The chemical analysis of steel plays a vital role in steel manufacturing. All the process analytics need to be adapted to the production process and must operate extremely quickly. This is why, since December 2017, voestalpine has been running a new on-site steel laboratory to test samples taken from the LD converter.

Advantages of the Steel Lab

Located in close proximity to the LD converter, the new steel laboratory enables further improvements to be made to the production process: only when the extracted charge sample is found to be in order can the production process resume. At this point the charge has a temperature of around 1600°C. This high temperature subjects the converter with its refractory lining to extreme stress. For this reason, the result of the analysis must be available very quickly so that the casting cycle—tapping—can proceed, thereby extending the service life of the refractory lining.

"We currently install eight to nine crucible linings each year. This involves closing down the converter for four days and replacing all the refractory bricks. Reducing the number of lining changes would allow us to make huge savings."
ZitatPeter Karner, Head of the Research & Development Department

Using a robotic arm

The quick online transfer of the result has a positive impact on productivity, which is why the new steel laboratory is fully automated: chemical analysis involves milling the surface of the sample and then analyzing it by means of spark spectrometry. All the movements of the sample, from insertion into the milling machine and on to the spectrometer, are carried out by a robot. The result is instantly presented to the operator on their monitor and to the central control room. This optimized workflow allows the results of the analysis to be delivered in only 60 seconds, enabling the production process to be quickly resumed—a huge benefit.

The fully automated steel laboratory was delivered in December 2017 and is currently in the trial phase.

Viktoria Steiniger (Maternity Leave)