AI solutions for the steel industry

The intelligent era of steel production

1. Integration of iron-making areas: Say goodbye to “dirty, tiring and dangerous” and achieve efficiency changes

 

The production in the ironmaking area covers multiple processes such as blast furnaces, sintering, coking, pellets, lime kilns, and raw material plants. Production energy consumption accounts for a large proportion of the energy consumption of the entire plant. The working environment involves various hazards such as high temperature, gas, and smoke. In traditional ironmaking operations, various operating positions are scattered on the front line of the site, the working environment is harsh, the work content is repetitive and boring, and most production operations rely on worker experience. A series of problems existing in traditional iron area production have put forward an urgent need for integrated and efficient centralized control. The smart ironmaking centralized control product based on big data integrated management and control has realized the integration of management and control in the iron area and the intensification of operations, greatly reduced the number of operating areas, improved personnel efficiency and production efficiency, and created a new production model in the iron area.

 

3D material site, raw material yard

 

1) In Baowu Shaogang, the world’s first steel smart centre was built. 8 major processes, 30 systems, and 42 central control rooms originally distributed within 4 square kilometres were all integrated into the smart centre covering an area of 1,600 square meters. 400 Many employees evacuated from major hazardous areas such as gas-related areas to achieve large-scale centralized control over a distance of more than 5 kilometers.

A total of more than 1,600 cameras have been installed at the production sites in Tiejie District and Nengjie District. The collected images are scrolled and played on the large screen of the smart centre. Automatic pop-up alarms are generated through video linkage technology to remind operators to deal with it as soon as possible to ensure safety. It has been essentially improved and management has become more humane. Integrated management and control allow data to be gathered on a unified platform, and also allow the collaboration mode of staff in each operation area to be upgraded, providing a strong guarantee for the smooth and stable operation of production.

After the project was put into operation, production indicators were significantly optimized, the cost per ton of iron was reduced by 25 yuan, and the average daily output increased by 500 tons; the steel production organization model was completely innovated, the number of operating areas was reduced by 60%, personnel efficiency increased by 40%, and overall labour productivity increased by nearly 40%.

2) At Baosteel Zhanjiang Iron and Steel, the first intelligent raw material yard in the steel industry was built, achieving precise and real-time management of the Zhanjiang raw material yard and greatly improving the quality of operations. In the past, steel raw material yards could only rely on manual measurement during the inventory process. Not only was the process laborious, but the measurement accuracy also relied on workers’ experience. The maximum error could reach several thousand tons, seriously affecting production arrangements.

The Zhanjiang intelligent raw material yard can automatically generate a three-dimensional model of the raw material pile through a laser scanner. The computer can calculate the volume of each raw material pile in real time based on the model, thereby calculating their accurate weight, and the measurement error can be controlled within 1%. The Zhanjiang intelligent raw material yard also realizes unmanned operation of the stacker and reclaimer. The operator does not need to operate on-site but only needs to remotely control the stacker and reclaimer from the centralized control centre.

The unmanned stacking and retrieval operation of Zhanjiang’s intelligent raw material yard can automatically plan operation strategies to ensure that materials are stored neatly, reduce material spillage along the way, and greatly improve the utilization rate of the stockyard. After the project is completed, labour productivity will increase by 80%, raw material yard utilization will increase by 20%, and inventory efficiency will increase by 90%.

 

2. Steel-rolling integration: using “wit” to liberate “human intelligence”

 

Steel production has many processes and long processes, and the rolling process has long been one of the processes requiring the highest degree of automation in steel production. With the development of the economy, enterprises’ requirements for rolling accuracy and speed continue to increase, and manual operations are difficult to meet the actual needs of production. In the field of steel rolling, a series of intelligent control products have been launched to realize the integration, digitization and intelligence of steel rolling, comprehensively improve production efficiency and product quality, reduce labour costs, and reshape the working environment of front-line workers.

1) In December 2019, the hot rolling control centre of Baowu Wuhan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. was put into operation, realizing stable and efficient remote control production of hot continuous rolling production lines in the industry for the first time. In the 2250 rolling line operation area, a total of 7 positions for rough rolling, finish rolling and coiling that were previously scattered were merged into 3 positions. Rolling line operators can share information across the line and collaborate in real-time.

In the 2250 and 1580 hot rolling heating furnace areas, the original 6 positions were merged into 2 positions. Intelligent control technologies such as rolling rhythm control, automatic steel burning, automatic steel loading/drawing, and electronic fences have realized the rolling rhythm. With intelligent control, workers’ self-operation on site is also transformed into remote centralized monitoring.

Intelligent transformation not only allows machine operations to replace manual front-line operations but also uses artificial intelligence technology and intelligent decision-making models to assist workers in making intelligent decisions, using “wit” to assist “human intelligence” to a higher level. In the operation and maintenance area of WISCO’s control centre, intelligent technologies such as automatic quality determination, automatic equipment diagnosis, and automatic water balance are used to collect information on key parts such as quality and equipment in real-time, and accurately push effective information. Once equipment needs to be replaced or Regarding the maintenance status, the operators in the operation and maintenance area will receive relevant information in advance, changing from “solving the case after the fact” to “pre-warning”, and the inspection work has become real-time, visual and intelligent.

2) At Baowu Bayi Steel, the industry’s first intelligent hot-rolled steel coil warehouse is operating in an orderly manner. The vehicles coming and going constantly pick up and put down the steel coils, completing the process of entering and exiting the warehouse again and again. However, these trucks do not have drivers on-site but are remotely monitored by staff. After manual instructions are given remotely, the trucks will automatically unload, rewind, and load the trucks.

Traditional manual driving often causes certain impacts and damage to the car body. However, this system can adapt to high temperatures and complex environments, intelligently optimize the working path, and ensure safe, efficient and reliable driving through high-precision positioning control, completely eliminating Damage to steel coil cargo and equipment. This hot-rolled intelligent steel coil warehouse system realizes unmanned driving, dispatching, and warehouse management. The number of workers in the warehouse area is reduced by more than 50%, the overall operating efficiency of the warehouse area is increased by more than 10%, and the comprehensive energy consumption is reduced by 5%-10%.

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