Robots used in metallurgical industry

The environmental characteristics of abnormally high temperatures, large amounts of dust, and small space in steel plants, the urgent requirements of enterprises to eliminate backward production capacity, improve product manufacturing processes, and improve product quality, and the increasingly serious recruitment difficulties of enterprises are prompting steel enterprises to turn their attention to industry robot. Industrial robots have obvious advantages in replacing manual labour in the steel industry:

(1) For jobs with high labour intensity, robots reduce the labour intensity of workers and avoid labour injuries;

(2) For standard operations such as inspection and marking, using robots has higher accuracy and consistency;

(3) For operations in harsh environments such as toxic and high temperatures in steel plants, using robots to replace labour can protect workers from harsh environments while improving operating standards and labour efficiency;

(4) Industrial robots can be connected to the factory’s digital and information system, and with the help of the robot’s communication capabilities, data flow can be “non-deployed” and improve the real-time and accuracy of production line information transmission. At present, as domestic steel mills have launched robot projects, industrial robots have gradually demonstrated huge application space in steelmaking, hot rolling, cold rolling and other industrial links in steel mills.


1. Application of industrial robots in steelmaking

The main applications of industrial robots in steelmaking include:

  • Automatic temperature measurement and sampling robot system;
  • Casting powder automatic adding robot system;
  • High-temperature billet marking robot system, etc.

1.1 Automatic temperature measurement and sampling robot system

The system mainly includes a robot system, temperature measuring rod storage system, liquid level detection system, temperature measuring rod recycling and crushing system, control system, safety protection system, etc.

The automatic temperature measurement and sampling robot can realize the height measurement of molten steel liquid level, fixed point and fixed depth temperature measurement and sampling in the refining process; while liberating manual labour in harsh environments, it can more accurately control the depth of the sampling rod deep into the liquid surface to achieve the goal of automating the area, meanwhile it also improves the process control of product production.

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1.2 Casting powder automatic adding robot system

The continuous casting machine adopts a robot automatic powder-adding machine, combined with crystallizer liquid level control, automatic liquid level abnormality handling model, remote crystallizer width adjustment, continuous casting automatic voice broadcast system, automatic crystallizer fluorine blowing system, and speed automatic navigation for refining, laying the foundation for realizing regional unmanned steel pouring.

The robot automatic powder-adding machine mainly consists of a robot system, a travelling mechanism, a protective powder storage/conveying device, a control system, etc. The robot body is installed on the travelling mechanism. During production, the travelling mechanism moves the robot from the waiting position to the powder-adding position, and returns to the waiting position after the casting is completed and the powder-adding is completed. The powder-adding robot reduces the labour intensity of the operator and frees the operator from repetition and monotony; it can automatically adjust the powder-adding amount and trajectory according to process requirements to ensure the stability and uniformity of the powder layer and improve the product production process.

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1.3 Hot billet marking robot system


With the help of industrial robot movement, a special high-temperature resistant paint is sprayed on the surface of a high-temperature steel billet using a spray gun to form a continuous character mark. A robot writing system includes a robot system, a billet positioning detection system, a heat insulation protection system, a paint spraying system control system, etc. Compared with traditional coordinate-type mechanical sign spraying and manual sign spraying, it has the advantages of no manual intervention, automatic and continuous operation, high positioning accuracy, high marking efficiency, and small space occupation. At the same time, this type of equipment can be used in harsh working conditions with high temperatures and high dust to complete marking work.

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2. Application of industrial robots in hot rolling production lines

Common applications of industrial robots in hot rolling include marking section steel and coils; labelling of section steel and plates, bar welding labels; automatic sampling and water changes, etc.

2.1 Section steel and coil marking robot system

steel coil manufacturing

With the help of industrial robot movement, a spray machine is used to spray special high-temperature resistant paint on the surface of steel. The equipment mainly consists of a robot system, an inkjet printer system, a position detection system and a control system. It can spray real-time production information of steel, company logos, product logos, etc. on the steel surface, which can improve production efficiency while improving product manufacturing quality, product safety and anti-counterfeiting.

2.2 Section Steel and plate labelling robot system

Section, rails and cold-rolled steel coils in China’s steel industry require labels to identify and record steel information. The labelling robot workstation mainly includes an industrial robot system, a label printing system, a labelling position recognition system, a control system, etc. Compared with traditional manual operation, the standardization, consistency, accuracy and real-time nature of marking are further achieved; the convenience of product inventory management can be greatly improved by configuring automatic identification devices in the production process.

2.3 Bar tag welding robot system

labeling robot, steel bar tagging

Domestic bar and steel bar production lines mainly identify and record steel bundle information by manually welding signs or hanging signs. However, manual operation cannot achieve real-time recording of information, which can easily lead to inconsistency between label information and the actual product, poor consistency, and problems such as low work efficiency. The standard welding label robot system consists of an industrial robot system, a stud welding machine system, a position detection system, a label printing separation system, a nail supply system, a control system and a safety protection system.


3. Application of industrial robots in cold rolling production lines

Common applications of industrial robots in cold rolling include labelling steel coils, unbundling steel coils, automatic zinc slag fishing and uncoiling blanking, automatic packaging, etc.

3.1 Automatic strapping robot system

The cold-rolled strip steel is produced in the form of steel coils. Each steel coil needs to be unpacked and uncoiled before production. This process takes up a lot of time. The automatic strapping removal robot system is mainly composed of a robot system, a steel strap removal system, a position detection system and a control system. The system has the functions of automatically identifying the direction of the lead, the number of straps, automatic strapping, cutting, and tape collection. It can Quickly complete the entire tape removal workflow to improve efficiency and save labour.

3.2 Automatic labelling robot system

Remove the label from the marking machine, scan and locate the section steel and steel coil size, and paste the label on the surface of the steel to realize automatic verification of information during the steel logistics process.

3.3 Zinc pot slag removal robot system

Mainly used in the galvanizing line of cold-rolled plate plants, it consists of a robot system, fishing gear and a control system. The system can automatically fish out zinc slag from the zinc pot, replacing traditional manual operations and eliminating the harmful effects of high-temperature toxic and harmful areas on the human body.


4. Conclusion

The in-depth implementation of the “Made in China 2025” plan and the continuous upgrading of industry manufacturing processes will bring out more and more industry-leading steel companies: with high work efficiency, stability and reliability, good repeatability, and the ability to operate in high-risk environments. Industrial robots with advantages such as operation will surely play an important role in the transformation and upgrading of steel companies.

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