Duferco La Louvière

Level 2 system for Melt Shop and Continuous Casting

Duferco is an international Group which, having started with the production and sale of steel products, has since diversified into sectors such as Energy, Environment, Shipping and Logistics.

In 2006 the company Duferco La Louvière S.A. (at the time a subsidiary of the Duferco Group) decided to redesign the Level 2 system serving the melt shop and the continuous casters installed at La Louvière (Belgium) plant, so as to get a modern system featuring advanced functionality’s at the state-of-the-art of the sector.

Iso Sistemi was selected as the supplier for its specific expertise in the steel industry and its modern approach to the problems of production planning and control.

Furthermore, Iso Sistemi was able to add to the Level 2 system a Business Intelligence solution that allowed customers to make the most of the potential of the data collected by the system in order to analyze trends and provide the company with an effective decision support

pc con dati
pc con dati

Project environment and scope

The main system objective was to ensure the quality of the produced slabs and billets and simultaneously the optimal use of the equipment and of the resources involved.

The system covers the entire process of the Melt Shop area, performing the following functions:

  • Scrap Yard (provided with 4 cranes, 4 platforms with load cells and 25 and 50 tons crates):
    • Automatic acquisition of the loaded weight; automatic update of the recipes; tracking
  • Electric Oven (100 tons):
    • Scheduling of castings and charge orders; control of the melting process (temperature, analysis, etc.); calculation of ferroalloy additions; management of baskets and silos
  • Metallurgy (three refining areas):
    • Automatic capture of measurements of temperature, weight, O2, Al; calculation of ferroalloy additions; quality control and management of non-conforming castings
  • Continuous Casting (two production plants: slabs and billets):
    • Management of sequences, casting, cutting and product quality
  • Quality:
    • Management of steel quality, recipes, materials (scrap, ferroalloys, powders) and operational practices
  • Equipment Management:
    • Master data, history of technical life and management of the maintenance cycle

The system is closely integrated with the existing Level 1 (PLC and instrumentation, touch screen systems for the scrap yard cranes) and Level 3; it interacts with these systems using the factory data network and the Melt Shop dedicated network.

From level 3, implemented on the ERP SAP, the system receives the casting schedules, along with the quality and dimensional data, and returns the balances of castings, slabs and billets produced.

It exchanges data with Level 1 to / from the plant, to track the progress of the casting and to monitor plant information and consumptions. It automatically receives from the Laboratory system the analysis data of the samples submitted.

Business Intelligence System

The archiving of data collected by the Level 2 system has allowed the creation of a Data Warehouse which can be interrogated by the end user using Business Intelligence tools (SAP BusinessObjects).

The users, in full autonomy, can query the historical data for decision support, in particular for:

  • analyzing production data as a function of the time periods (possibly comparing different periods), of the characteristics of the products (steel quality, size, etc.) and of the plant sections;
  • sharing analyses obtained via simple standardized procedures;
  • easily editing the objects of analysis in response to new business objectives.

The solution

The system was developed in a client/server architecture.
The servers are managed by Windows Server; the database is Oracle.
The system uses thin clients placed in the different areas of the plant.
For bidirectional data exchange with Level 1, a gateway was developed that reads data from an OPC Server.
The SAP BusinessObjects suite was used for Business Intelligence purposes.
All users are profiled so as to allow access to data and functions according to the plant area of appointment and to the permission levels granted by the Administrator.

The Steel Solutions Suite

The system developed for the Steel Mill of La Louvière is the functional and technological base of the component “Level 2 Steel Making and Continuous Castings ” of the Iso Sistemi Steel Solutions Suite.
System design and commissioning made it possible to complete the Iso Sistemi experience in the sector.
The similar project successfully developed for NLMK Verona is based on this component of the Suite, suitably adapted.