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Observing processes – planning maintenance
Production plants in the steel industry are frequently operated at the limits of their capacities. This could result in multiple malfunctions. It is therefore necessary to determine, as accurately as possible, the state of the plants and particularly that of critical components – in order to permit the information to be exploited in the maintenance strategy. Condition monitoring systems offer a potential solution here.
Fluid technology in the hydraulics
Fluid technology is exploited in hydraulic systems. They started being used in heavy industries during the 1950s and developed into the motor of drive and automation technology in mobile machines and industrial applications. Steel industry plants without hydraulics are simply inconceivable now. Hydraulic drives and control systems are found throughout the entire production process, from the coking plant to further processing, as well as in the machine and plants of auxiliary operations.
Reducing friction – conserving resources
Tribology (the science of interacting surfaces) examines the dependencies of friction, wear and lubrication. Friction, and thus wear, takes place at numerous machine elements such as bearings, guides, gears, motors, etc. Reducing friction through suitable lubricants results in longer service lives for components, lower energy consumption for movements, and thus cost savings. The German steel industry purchases about 15,000 tonnes of oils and greases per year, costing approx. 18 m. euros. The products purchased are subject to comprehensive testing and laboratory examinations in order to ensure that defined quality demands are met. Current developments aim to optimise the entire tribosystem and produce new improved lubricants. General trends include increased operating temperatures, reduced friction, longer service lives and lower costs.
Cranes: the driving force of the steel industry
The most varied of cranes can be found in all areas of steel production, starting from simple loading cranes to casting cranes in the steelworks capable of moving loads of up to about 600 tonnes and meeting maximum safety and reliability demands. The load uptake equipment differs depending on the site of use and transport task. Typical systems for the steel industry include: claws (e.g. for slabs, billets), hooks (for coils), magnets and grippers. Very many cranes used in the steel industry originate from the 1960s and 1970s and have therefore undergone several modernisations during their service lives.
Maximising resources and benefits through plant management
The maintenance and further development of plants for steel production, forming and further processing make a major contribution towards value creation in the companies of the steel industry. Plant technology controls the available resources in a complex environment and follows the principles of resource conservation and the maximisation of benefits. The provision of process, plant and product data considerably expands the range of activities in plant technology which, however, will continue to find itself in the classic conflict – between demands for increased quality and plant availability and the growing costs pressure. Plant technology thus faces the following challenges:
- consistent use of new technologies and techniques,
- further qualification of personnel,
- organisational changes,
- increasing complexity of the plants currently in use,
- increased demands regarding plant availability,
- reduced costs and improved quality,
- improved maintenance processes.