Steel production line, staged “WALL-E”

On the bar finishing production line in the new district of Shigang Company of Hesteel Group, 38 robots work together to unbundle, grind, bundle, label, and store the rolled bars. The whole process is smooth and smooth.


1. Robots become the unique landscape of the production line

In iron and steel production, finishing operations are part of individual production and frequent product transfers. But for the main control worker in the finishing workshop of the rod line in Shigang Company, the daily work is relatively easy.

The bar products coming out of the rolling line are partially straightened, chamfered, flaw detected and collected, bundled and packed after being cooled by the cooling bed, and the whole process is fully automated. Workers only need to stare at the computer screen on the console and move the buttons to control the operation and monitor the flow of bar products on the production line.

Unbundling robots, sample steel picking and placing robots, calibration block robots, bundling robots, grinding robots, labelling robots, painting robots, finished product transfer robots… After different types of robots go online in the finishing workshop, they replace manual labour to carry out heavy work, which not only reduces the work intensity of employees but also greatly improves labour efficiency.

The robot system for special steel bar finishing operations adopts intelligent technologies such as light-load and heavy-load robot integration, quality monitoring and optimization, and builds 3 robot operation production lines, realizing robot intelligent operations in links such as unbundling, grinding, bundling, and labelling, as well as automatic transfer from semi-finished products to finished products, information flow tracking, and traceable quality management, providing samples for the cluster application of industrial robots in the steel industry.

In Shigang, the industrial robots showing their talents have become the unique scenery of the production line.

At the production site of the refining furnace in the steelmaking plant, the temperature measuring and sampling robot stretches out a long “arm”, flexibly passes through the furnace cover, reaches into the molten steel at a temperature of up to 1600 degrees Celsius, takes out the molten steel sample, and then transmits it to the quick separation centre through the pneumatic sampler. From sending the sample to detecting the composition result, the whole process only takes 3 minutes.

In the continuous casting production line of the steelmaking plant, after the sawn slabs are transported to the designated area, a number spraying robot “dances” rhythmically, first cleaning the section of the slab, and then spraying the slab with an automatic nozzle.

Any dangerous, repetitive, and heavy work will gradually be handed over to robots in the future. The wide application of robots in Shigang’s new area not only makes “one-key steelmaking” possible, but also helps them achieve precise control of smelting temperature, composition, and high cleanliness, greatly improving the quality of high-end steel.


Robot in bar mill


2. Information Exchange

Open the “Tapping Plan Gantt Chart” interface. According to the order requirements, the planner of the steelmaking plant of Shigang Company inputs the smelting instructions, and the tapping plan is automatically compiled and sent to the electric furnace, refining, continuous casting and other processes. Each process carries out modular production according to the established standards.

In Shigang, production and sales are highly coordinated. From receiving sales orders to quality design, planning and scheduling, quality control, and product delivery, all are run in the production management system to achieve dynamic and efficient connection between upstream and downstream.

Shigang’s advantage lies in opening up system levels, eliminating information islands, promoting data sharing, and building an integrated “digital intelligence” system. Whether it is industrial robots or other smart devices, they all rely on this “invisible” platform to operate efficiently.

The integrated “digital intelligence” system includes an intelligent equipment system, an intelligent manufacturing system, an intelligent operation system and an intelligent collaboration system. An intelligent equipment system includes an automatic control system and process control system; an intelligent manufacturing system includes a production execution system, logistics management system, equipment management system, energy management system and inspection and testing system, etc.; an intelligent operation system includes enterprise resource planning, human resource management, etc.; intelligent collaborative system includes office automation, mobile software, etc.

Under the top-level design of the Industrial Internet, systems at all levels are interconnected and fully integrated, realizing the full-process coordination of design, R&D, sales, production, procurement, and logistics, and boosting Shigang’s digital transformation to a new level.


3. Big data application

At the scrap unloading point of Shigang Company, every time scrap is unloaded, a high-definition camera automatically adjusts the focus to take a snapshot, and the collected scrap images are transmitted to the scrap intelligent quality inspection system.

Aiming at the problems of various types of steel scrap and complex detection scenarios, Shigang Company has established an intelligent quality inspection system for steel scrap, which can accurately and intelligently identify the grade of steel scrap and the proportion of impurities.

“This system uses advanced image recognition technology and neural network algorithms to determine the standards and algorithms for steel scrap inspection.” The leader of the steel scrap quality inspection team B of Shigang Company said that after the scrap steel intelligent quality inspection system was put into use, it not only effectively avoided human factors, but also greatly improved the scrap steel quality control level and unloading efficiency, and the recognition accuracy of scrap steel reached 95%.

Big data is not a simple bunch of numbers, but a “magic weapon” for enterprises to improve production and operational efficiency.

At present, Shigang has established a defective product production database on the quality big data platform, which collects the data of defective products, and through big data statistical analysis, finds the cause of product defects and provides support for subsequent production of high-quality products.

In addition, Shigang has also established online monitoring points in rolling mills, power distribution rooms and other areas to collect the operation information of important components of the equipment management system to form a dynamic map. Once the equipment is abnormal or fails, the alarm system will be automatically triggered to realize precise operation and maintenance of the equipment.

By analyzing the logical relationship and changing rules of various information, the large database can also predict the development trend of the product market and provide a reference for business decision-making.

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