5G energizes the Chinese steel industry

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Workers remotely monitor steel production in the central control room of a factory in Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. in the province of Hunan (central China). (Photo / Hunan Province People’s Government State Property Administration and Supervision Commission)

By Shen Zhilin, Jiang Xiaodan

The integration of 5G technology into the industrial Internet has helped improve the quality and efficiency of the traditional Chinese steel industry by accelerating the application of products with big data-based functions such as remote control, collaborative operation and troubleshooting in recent years.

In the steel production area of ​​a large heavy plate factory run by Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. (Xiangtan Steel) in Xiangtan, central China’s Hunan Province, four large electromagnetic overhead cranes were busy attracting scrap metal weighing several tons, then moving it with precision on a truck.

The cranes were controlled remotely by Tan Bin, who sat in a spacious central control room and performed loading and unloading tasks by simply pulling or pushing levers and pressing buttons in front of a screen.

“The job was so much harder when I had to stay in the driver’s cab of an overhead crane before remote control was possible,” Tan recalls.

“The driver’s cab was noisy and was sometimes infiltrated with dust. So we had to wear masks all the time at work, ”added the operator.

Taking advantage of the ultra-high reliability and ultra-low latency of new technologies, the plant achieves ultra-fast data upload and download, allowing workers to control equipment accurately and remotely, according to He. Wei, deputy director. of the production equipment department of Xiangtan Steel, which said that the integration of 5G in overhead cranes has significantly improved the work efficiency of operators.

Shougang Jingtang United Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. in Tangshan City, Hebei Province (North China), has set up a management system that can real-time monitor the operation of the four main devices of coke ovens, an essential installation for iron and steel businesses, namely coke pusher, coke barrier vehicle, coke quench vehicle, and coal loading car. These machines playing different roles are closely related to each other and form an organic whole and unified by the transmission of signals.

In addition to real-time monitoring of the four main devices of the coke ovens, the management system enables human-machine dialogues, allowing workers to give orders to the machines.

The four devices can send their operating data to the central control room, said Ding Hongqi, a staff member from the coking department of the Tangshan Steel Company.

However, due to the low bandwidth, image transmission has often been disrupted by network latency in the past, Ding said, adding that the issue was resolved after the company used 5G technology.

As a typical process manufacturing industry, the steel industry is characterized by a continuous production process and requires the timely transmission of large amounts of information in a complex environment, which the old information system of the business can no longer endure. Therefore, the industry is in urgent need of intelligent transformation.

In 2019, the company’s coking department applied 5G to the remote operation of the four devices to realize their intelligent and synchronous connection, making the remote operation of the equipment more reliable, efficient and secure.

“We have achieved the stable, safe and fast transmission of images,” said Ding, adding that after analysis and logical judgment, the central control room gives the corresponding instructions to the programmable logic controllers of the four devices, thereby ensuring their collaboration.

Since 2019, the company has promoted the transformation and upgrading of steelmaking technology and equipment by integrating 5G into the industrial internet, thus increasing its production efficiency by about 15%.

After upgrading key basic equipment by combining 5G and industrial internet, Ansteel Information Industry Co., Ltd. based in Dalian, Liaoning Province (northeast China), collected data by sensors installed in equipment, such as temperature, vibration, pressure and flow. , to be transmitted to a real-time cloud platform to achieve real-time monitoring, diagnosis and troubleshooting of equipment using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis, according to Liu Jiawei , chief researcher of the company.

Since the application of 5G technology and the industrial Internet, data on the current of the motors on each of the roller beds of the company’s 1780 millimeter hot strip rolling mill production line has been collected. in real time. Each time an anomaly occurs, the equipment automatically triggers an alarm and locates the fault with precision.

“In the past, after spotting scratches on products caused by engine failure, we had to examine more than 400 roller beds on the production line one by one, which took anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Now we can determine the problems basically in 10 minutes, ”said Ma Liang, a production line worker.

As maintenance efficiency improved and equipment downtime was shortened, the percentage of scrap and degraded product dropped from around 7% to 3.8%, which helped the company to cut costs, added Ma.

In addition to troubleshooting, the application of 5G technology and the industrial Internet has also enabled active maintenance of equipment.

Through relevant applications, the experience of seasoned workers has been converted into data models, which help to achieve scientific maintenance and complete equipment life cycle management on the basis of data analysis, said Liu. .

For the 1780 millimeter hot strip rolling mill production line, the number of emergency stops and troubleshooting decreased by 20%, and the operating rate of equipment increased by 5% after line transformation. production, Liu said.

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