Wireless Improves Steel Plant’s Safety

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 @ 02:07 PM gHale

Wireless can help improve the safety of a plant as workers at Ternium Siderar’s steelmaking facility in San Nicolás, Argentina, can attest.
The self-organizing wireless network delivers electromotive force (EMF) data directly to a plant SCADA system despite conditions that include temperatures as high as 60° Celsius and high electromagnetic noise. The EMF measurements enable Ternium to calculate the amount of pig iron in the hearth, enabling smoother and safer furnace operations.
“We’ve improved furnace energy efficiency, process stability, and safety,” said Esteban Pagliero, Ternium Siderar electronic engineer. “Knowing the EMF enables calculation of the amount of iron and slag inside the hearth, enabling the improved operations. This allows us to avoid raising the operation level by too much which considerably increases the risk of serious accidents.”
Transmitters, supplied by Emerson’s Rosemount, collect and send data from electrodes soldered near tapholes onto the hearth’s shell. The devices transmit continuous data to a wireless gateway, located 50 meters away in another room, which sends the information to the facility’s SCADA system.
Ternium also uses predictive maintenance software to manage the new devices, which enables technicians to configure them, run diagnostic checks, and monitor alarms and alerts.
The wireless solution saved Ternium startup time and money. The company would have had to install a wired solution during multiple routine maintenance stoppages of its furnace, which occur every two months. Wires were also impractical because of the high temperatures in the steel runner and the network layout needed.
“Smart Wireless decreased our installation costs and time considerably,” said Pagliero. “We gained a 50% installed cost savings with the wireless solution.”

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