The SIron and Steel Plant of Piombino is an industrial facility specialized in the production of steel. It is situated by the sea, skirting 9 km of coastline; with its 12,000,000 square meters is the second Italian steel mill.
The plant boasts an ultra-centennial experience of history since 1864, when the Magona d’Italia was born; the factory was then equipped with a charcoal blast furnace and a Bessemer converter (the first realized in Italy), to produce steel starting from liquid cast iron.
The steelworks include three oxygen converters, each of 120 tons capacity, four ladle furnaces, two degassing systems and four continuous casting machines, capable of producing slabs, blooms and billets of various sizes. The plant is also equipped with a rolling area, where over the years most of the rails currently in use by the Italian Railways have been produced.
Piombino (LI), lo stabilimento dell’azienda siderurgica Lucchini, nella foto l’altoforno 2010-09-28 Â© Majlend Bramo/Massimo Sestini – 2010-09-28 Piombino (LI), lo stabilimento dell’azienda siderurgica Lucchini, nella foto l’altoforno 2010-09-28 © Majlend Bramo/Massimo Sestini 176816_0002_2950934.jpg – fotografo: / SESTINI
Project objectives were:
- Constructing a so-called “As Is” simulation model to represent as faithfully as possible, the operation of the existing plant;
- Analyzing, via the “As Is” model, the impact of all production and handling systems in the production cycle, with the identification of bottlenecks;
- Experimenting with new operational and new production cycles practices through small parametric variations of the model, using the “As Is” setting;
- Building a “What If” model including even totally new facilities, so as to assess their impact within the sensitive logistical context.
The simulation model had to take into account a wide range of information, such as:
- Sales Forecast: types and quantities of products for the customer;
- Installation layouts of the various production areas (steelworks and railway network for liquid cast iron transportation);
- Production machines speed, processing time, parameters (e.g. number of casting lines, steel brands compatibility).
Why the simulation
In 1992, during the process of privatization of the ILVA Group, the plant became part of the “Lucchini Group” of Brescia.
In 1992, during the process of privatization of the ILVA Group, the plant became part of the Russian Group Severstal, one of the largest steel groups in the world. The purpose of the Group was increase the plant production volumes of semi-finished products, going from the then 2.2 million metric tons/year to 3 million metric tons/year. To achieve this goal it was necessary to analyze the logistic layout of the plant,in order to identify bottlenecks that could prevent an optimal production process.
This task was entrusted to Iso Sistemi, who built a highly detailed simulation model, able to assess the logistical problems of the existing facilities (converters, ladle treatment machines, continuous casting, etc.), transportation systems (gantries, transfer tanks, torpedo cars, etc.) and existing operational practices, and then to consider the impact that would have had the installation of new production machines involving a very expensive investment.
The simulation model of the Steel Making Area allowed the evaluation of the bottlenecks of the existing plant, giving valuable information about the feasibility of the planned investment. Among the detected bottlenecks, for example, the enormous difficulties in the supply of liquid iron to the Steel Making Area were identified, allowing to extend the perimeter of the simulation model also to the transportation of liquid iron from the blast furnace to the Steel Making Area. Using this extended model allowed to facilitate the decision to increase the supply stations of liquid iron in the Steel Making Area (placement of an additional casting pit).
The role of Iso Sistemi
The role of Iso Sistemi has been central since, given the objective of achieving a significant production increase, various intervention options were under review by the Department. The scale of investment required by each option, in both economic and timing terms, was such that they had to be supported by a mathematical simulation tool to confirm the correctness of the solution and to highlight its advantages and problems.
Iso Sistemi supported the Lucchini staff in all project phases, from data collection and definition of the functional specifications, to the validation of the “What-If” model and the discussion of the results with the Management Committee.