How does intelligent equipment improve steel mill safety?

Iron and steel smelting processes are numerous and very complicated. Turning a pile of ore into a furnace of molten iron, and then into a piece of steel requires dozens of processes in between. The high-temperature environment where iron flowers splash, the poisonous gas in the smelting process, and the huge machinery that roars make human beings look small and fragile in this working environment.

For iron and steel enterprises, safe production is an old-fashioned topic, but under the tide of informatization and intelligence, the safe production of iron and steel enterprises is showing a new look and high technology is supporting more and more steel enterprises. “Safe Umbrella”.

The role of intelligence in safe production is mainly to improve the efficiency of safe production, partially or even completely replace personnel post operations, greatly shorten the time that operators are exposed to dangerous areas, and reduce the probability of accidents.

Safety production and safety management focus on the combination of “prevention” and “management”, and technologies such as informatization and intelligence provide the most effective technical means for it.

In recent years, many iron and steel enterprises have increased their investment in safety production costs, and strive to stifle safety accidents in the cradle through the construction of safety essentials such as mechanization, automation, and intelligent unmanned construction.


steel mill safety


Intelligent equipment replaces humans to improve steel mill safety

1) Online temperature measurement of ironmaking blast furnace

Iron is first made in steelmaking. The ironmaking blast furnace undertakes the main task of turning ore into molten iron and is the core link of iron and steel smelting. The complex physical and chemical reactions of ore melting and molten iron precipitation are all carried out in the blast furnace. The regular inspection and maintenance of the blast furnace is the top priority of the ironworks. And this kind of work has previously required workers to undertake. No matter day or night, the inspectors are like doctors. They have to climb tens of meters of the furnace body every hour on average and hold temperature guns to measure and check the temperature of the blast furnace.

The blast furnace online temperature measurement system allows the inspection workers to remotely understand the pictures of each point of the blast furnace and the temperature changes in specific areas of the furnace skin through the real-time linkage of the front-end thermal imaging equipment and the background system, generate reports, and get early warnings of temperature abnormalities in a timely manner. The workers who have been doing 24-hour shift inspections for many years have returned to the office from a more dangerous site. The working environment has improved, the work efficiency has been improved, and the safety production requirements in the factory have been further implemented.

Not only the online temperature measurement of ironmaking blast furnaces but also digital and intelligent solutions in hanging furnace steelmaking, hot rolling, cold rolling and other production links are helping more front-line steel workers to remotely perceive complex production sites and carry out production schedules in real-time.

2) Robotic automation of steelmaking and continuous casting production lines

On the traditional steelmaking and continuous casting production line, the operating environment is harsh, and the high temperature, heat radiation, steel spatter, high-temperature flue gas, and staggered equipment layout in the ladle operation area all cause harm to the physical and mental health and safety of the front-line steel pouring employees.

A continuous casting machine with 1 ladle receiving side robot, 1 tundish area robot, and 2 mould slag robots working together, realizes the addition of mould slag in the continuous casting process, the disassembly and assembly of ladle SN hydraulic cylinder, and the disassembly and assembly of ladle shroud nozzle, tundish temperature measurement and sampling robot automation operations.

The four robots work proficiently on the production line at the same time, which not only greatly reduces the workload and labour intensity of the front-line steel-pouring employees, but also eliminates errors caused by manual operations; moreover, it reduces the interaction between people and equipment, eliminating Potential safety hazards are eliminated, sources of danger are reduced, and essential safety is greatly improved. In addition, the physical quality of the slab is effectively improved.


3) Robots in cold rolling mills improve production safety

In a cold rolling mill unit in China, 25 robots including automatic unbundling robots, automatic scum removal robots, automatic sampling and sample handling robots, automatic coding robots, and automatic labelling robots are distributed in 14 cold rolling mills. After these robots went online, they not only improved the working environment of employees, and eliminated mistakes caused by repeated single labour, but also greatly improved labour efficiency, making the working environment of employees safer.

At the entrance of the unit, the robot replaces the manual unbundling to avoid the straps from hurting people;

In the galvanized pot area, the robot replaces the manual skimming operation, avoiding the risk of high temperature, falling, poisonous and other injuries;

At the end of the exit of the unit, the robot replaces the manual handling of samples, avoiding the risk of injury to the hands of the samples and reducing work mistakes;

At the exit of the unit, the robot replaces manual marking and labelling, which effectively prevents accidents with different materials such as wrong numbers;

In addition to maintenance, the robot can work continuously for 24 hours, and the post personnel can assist other posts to carry out more important work and create more value.

4) Hot rolling mill robot

The hot-rolling factory has always used manual spray printing. The staff must hold the template and spray gun next to the steel coil with a high temperature of more than 600 degrees Celsius. The labour intensity is high and the working environment is harsh. After the robot’s automatic inkjet printing machine is put into use, it can effectively reduce the labour intensity of the inkjet printing post. The printing position of the steel coil logo is consistent, and the steel coil logo data is directly transmitted to the Robotic inkjet printing machine to realize accurate tracking and precise inkjet printing of each steel coil.

The heat radiation brought by the fiery red strip steel at a temperature of about 1000°C in the hot-rolling factory building makes it impossible for people to get close to it, and the railings in the factory building are too hot to touch. Since strip steel rolling needs to remove the secondary oxide scale on the surface, the use of high-pressure water makes the whole plant filled with water vapour, and the hot rolling plant on high-temperature days is even more sultry and humid.

Automatic steel sorting and counting systems, automatic sampling robots, automatic labelling robots, online size detection systems, intelligent inspection robots, etc., save workers from working in such a high-heat environment.

The intelligent transformation enables the hot rolling production line to realize the operation mode controlled by a centralized control centre for the whole line, and the robot system replaces manual work, which is more efficient and safer. The purpose of intelligent manufacturing is to keep employees away from these dangerous and harmful positions.


steel plant safety, online measurement in steel industry          welding tag robot


5) Steel plant unmanned overhead crane

The metallurgical foundry crane is the lifting equipment with the largest tonnage and the highest safety risk in the iron and steel company. Low, relatively poor operating efficiency and other risk issues.

After the unmanned driving control system is adopted, real-time images are provided for the crane workers through video surveillance passive operations are changed into active confirmation operations, and double confirmation operations of ladle hanging and uncoupling are formed with ground commanders, thereby improving the safety of operations and maximizing The occurrence of major accidents has been avoided.


Start with “prevention” and promote intrinsic safety with intelligent systems

Baosteel Wuhan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. has established a smart fire monitoring platform with the help of 5G technology, replacing the previous manual fire inspection. The platform adopts a modular structure, which is compatible with a fire extinguishing system, fire alarm system, electrical fire system and auxiliary escape system, and can collect, transmit and analyze the status of key facilities of each system. If there is an alarm, the software client will pop up an alarm dialog box, and send an alarm message to the relevant responsible unit and the person in charge of the security department as soon as possible, creating conditions for quickly organizing and eliminating fires.

Manual fire inspections are prone to false reports, omissions and misreports of fire-hidden dangers due to lax human thinking, which delays the timing of fire fighting at critical moments. The intelligent fire protection system monitoring platform can judge the standby and alarm status of fire protection facilities through artificial intelligence technology, and realize the timely discovery, accurate tracking and rapid evaluation of fire situations.

The intelligent system can be designed so that the production process and the product itself have the function of preventing danger, even in the case of misoperation, no accident will occur, thereby promoting the improvement of the level of intrinsic safety.


Focus on “management” to achieve full coverage of people, machines, environment and management

Nangang has built a smart safety management platform. The platform covers 45 management elements of 11 major business modules and realizes one-click query of safety management system, online approval of safety operation process, mobile safety learning, real-time push of safety performance tasks and execution status, detailed analysis of accident events, contractor Multiple functions such as personnel information online management and control.

In terms of precise monitoring of dynamic hazard sources, the platform uses 5G mobile video surveillance technology combined with video analysis algorithms to monitor unsafe behaviours in real time and give timely alarms. When abnormal situations occur, the location of the occurrence can be quickly determined, and on-site AI (artificial intelligence) voice broadcast The system quickly commands and dispatches.

The safety section monitored all gas alarm points and major hazard source alarm points of Nangang in real-time, and established a multi-rule, multi-level early warning push system to display the location of the implementation of the hazard source operation and the location of major hidden dangers that are being rectified every day, The ability to respond to abnormal situations has been greatly improved, the full coverage of man, machine, environment and management has been realized, the intrinsic safety level has been comprehensively improved, and a smart safety management system with Nanjing Iron and Steel’s characteristics has been formed.


Smart robots improve safety in steel production environments

While ensuring steel production, it is also necessary to monitor the safety of the production environment. The inspection robot has multiple functions such as infrared temperature measurement, AI recognition, and two-way voice intercom. Non-contact real-time monitoring, accurate temperature measurement, fire prevention and equipment failure prevention, and inspection of operating standards for workers can be carried out in steel plants. For example, for various violations such as not wearing a safety helmet or not wearing a mask, the background supervisors can grasp the indoor situation in real time and realize remote operation and maintenance.

The intelligent inspection robot has the functions of noise monitoring, gas monitoring, temperature and humidity monitoring, etc. In some flammable and explosive dangerous scenes and harsh environments in steel plants, there is a large amount of carbon monoxide and sulfide gas, continuous high temperatures, poor ventilation, etc., which seriously threaten the production safety of workers. The inspection robot has an explosion-proof function to replace manual inspection, which reduces the labour intensity of personnel and improves work efficiency and safety.

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