New products and development: Laser doppler integration

To get accurate flatness where flatness data correlate with the physical position on the material, the speed must be measured accurately. For some applications (cut sheets and plates on roller tables), this can be a challenge due to slippage. Shapeline has now delivered systems where this has been solved by laser Dopplers.

A laser Doppler measures speed by the use of phase shift between two laser beams projected on the material surface.The laser Doppler may also return strip, plate or sheet length, which can be handled by the new Shapeline software, Shapesoft 3. Hence, the length will be displayed in our user interface and stored in the measurement files. Two files in one smash!

For our platform system, the Doppler may be integrated into the platform and delivered, function tested with the main supply. The Doppler may handle zero speed and material reverse or start from 5 m/s in the forward direction. The length accuracy is an example +/- 6.5 mm for a 20 m long plate.

Start ups: Burns Harbor

ArcelorMittal plate production in ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor work, Indiana, USA has just re-started the quenching and/or tempering facility after a major re-vamp of the heat-treat facility.

ArcelorMittal plate production in ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor work, Indiana, USA has just re-started the quenching and/or tempering facility after a major re-vamp of the heat-treat facility. The line has been equipped with a new state-of-the-art 7,700 Metric ton plate leveller from JP SteelPlantech Co., the strongest roll leveler in the world to date. A Shapeline Flatness gauge has been installed down-stream from the leveler, which is used to adjust the leveller and verify that the plates meet the requirements.

The leveller, as well as the flatness gauge, can handle hot and cold plates up to 1400 MPa yield stress or up to 100 mm thickness. The Plantech 4-th generation roller plate leveller has the capability of compensation of deflections in the mechanical structure through a set of hydraulic cylinders by means of on-line gap measurement and on-line pressure measurement. The gap inside the leveller can be kept constant, vertical deflection is compensated for as well as lateral deflections and compression deflections. Due to having this capability, the 4th generation is seen as a plate leveller having an infinite rigidity control function. This leads to a much better levelling capability since the levelling becomes less dependent on levelling fluctuations and hence a flatter plate is produced. The infinite rigidity also deals with plates with high thickness, high yield strength and varying yield strength. Residual stresses are also reduced since the levelling becomes more uniform. A further advantage is that the levelling force can be increased due to more evenly distributed force. The Burns Harbor leveller has a levelling force of 7,700 Metric Tons.

A direct effect of the 4th generation leveller is that the number of levelling passes can be reduced. This increases the throughput of the line and reduces the need for additional levelling lines. As a consequence, the number of plates can be increased, which puts higher requirements on the flatness measurement. Automated, high-capacity measurement is a necessity, which has been realised through the Shapeline flatness measurement gauge.

The target for ArcelorMittal is to produce ¼ of ASTM in terms of flatness, which will be verified and documented by the Shapeline system for each individual plate and hence, plate flatness data can be retrieved at any time for any plate. Flatness data from the gauge can also be used to tune and improve the performance of the Plantech leveller.

Key orders: Tata Steel, Scunthorpe to reduce levelling

Shapeline is just about to finalise a platform system in cooperation with Tata Scunthorpe, UK. The system measures flatness in a shearing line to verify shape, but also to limit the amount of plates sent to the levelling line.

The laser based system is capable of measuring 4.8 m wide plates on-line and has an integrated laser doppler sensor for speed and plate length measurements. The performance of the system was demonstrated under dynamic conditions by Shapeline´s new, traceable, dynamic test procedure.

Key orders: Nippon Steel Japan places order for a Shapeline flatness system

Nippon Steel, Oita plate mill, Japan, has placed an order for a Shapeline flatness measurment system with the Japanese trading house, Mitsui.

The laser based platform system will measure flatness and shape in Nippon Steel’s 5.5 m wide steel plate shearing line at the Oita plate mill. The start-up of the system is planned for autumn 2012 and will be the first Shapeline system installed at a Japanese mill. It follows the installation of three Shapeline platform systems at Nippon Steel’s Brazilian cooperation, Usiminas during the last two years.

New personnel: International salesperson, Isabelle Darmanin

Ms Isabelle Darmanin will start with international sales in August 2012. Isabelle has worked as a project leader for advanced space projects with SAAB Space and Ruag for more than 15 years. She has been in close contact with customers worldwide and will now focus on customer relations as a technical salesperson. Isabelle can be reached by email: isabelle.darmanin@shapeline.com.

Shapeline performance: Performance verification under dynamic conditions

According to e.g. DIN EN ISO 10012, the performance of any measurement system shall be verified taking into account all significant uncertainties including the environment in which the system works, i.e. verified under real production conditions. For a flatness measurement system, this is a difficult task since the transport of the material may influence the shape and measurement. For several years, Shapeline has provided systems with vibration compensation sensors and recommendations for modifying the transport so the material can be accurately measured.

Now, we take this one step further and show that the performance is according to the specifications under normal production conditions (cold material). This is done by placing markers on the plate to be used as references for traceable comparative measurements of repeatability and accuracy. At the same time, the material speed vs. speed information is verified. Shapeline provides the required software as well as equipment for this. The result is a protocol to the customer.

Resarch: Flatness problems by End-users

To gain a deeper understanding of how flatness problems affect the end-users, Shapeline has conducted a project to build up internal knowledge.

Flat steel is used for various purposes in the industry. Steel is welded, stamped, bent, cut, shaped, machined etc. into all kinds of final structures. In most of these processes, bad flatness is an issue which increases costs and delivery times. To build up internal knowledge, Shapeline has contacted 50 different manufacturing companies using flat steel in their processes. Most of them were also visited by a Shapeline representative.

The result was that most end-users have problems in varying degree. About 45% are actually willing to pay more for better flatness (see the diagram below) and the cost for flatness problems was estimated at 40-100 Euro/ton, depending on the application.

A majority of the companies realise that they are too small to influence the steel producers and instead, actively select material from suppliers, which fulfil their flatness requirements.

Some other conclusions were:

  • The cost for arc welding increases dramatically when the flatness gets worse. Amplitudes as small as 1,5 mm cause severe problems when thick steel plates are to be welded together.
  • In laser-cutting, faster lasers require flatter material. Flatness problems are one of the main cost factors.
  • On a direct question as to whether flat steel users are prepared to pay more for flat material, 45% said yes. The accepted price increase is 4-17% with an average of 10%. However, most users expect the suppliers to supply flat steel.
  • Reclamations are limited since
  • Flatness tolerances are wide. Many manufacturers need better flatness than the tolerances permit.
  • The users cannot wait for new material.
  • There are intermediate actors (steel service centres and traders), which filter feedback to the steel producers.
  •  Many producers select suppliers depending on the material flatness.

The need for good flatness seems to increase rather than decrease in the future since automation as well as focus on cost reductions increase. It is also likely that the rules for flatness evaluation will change to reflect the end-user requirements to a higher extent. Some steel producers are already using alternative flatness evaluation rules today and ½ or ¼ of standard tolerances are also commonly used. New evaluations will be hard or impossible to implement without a good, automated and high-density flatness gauge.

Shapeline network: Membership in Stahlinstitut VDEh

Shapeline has become a member of Stahlinstitut VDEh, the mail German steel association. The membership commenced by a presentation at Fachausschusses Messtechnik in Ijmuiden, April 17 by Dr. Pär Kierkegaard. The laser line triangulation technology was presented as well as how flatness measurement is beneficial for both steel producers and end-users.

Shapeline Network: Support Center in the US

Shapeline and our US representative, Lesman Instruments have intensified the cooperation with the establishment of a Support Center in Bensenville, Chicago.

The Support Center is a first-line support for American customers. Spares are kept in Bensenville for the US market and we have a trained engineer, John Trush for technical support. John can be reached  by email: johnt@lesman.com.

We welcome John into our network and encourage our customers to contact John in case of technical issues. Our direct on-line remote diagnostics and service from Sweden will remain unchanged.

Shapeline starts cooperation with Mitsui & Co. Plant Systems, Ltd

Shapeline AB, Sweden, has formed a cooperation with the well-known global trading house Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Japan, for marketing and sales of Shapeline’s flatness measurement systems to the Japanese steel/metals industry. This is a natural continuation of the successful partnership when reciving an order for a Shapeline flatness system at Nippon Steel Oita plate mill in June last year.

The order is the first reference for the Japanese market and is planned to start up operation in August, 2012. Mitsui will also support the build up of a local Shapeline service center in Japan.

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Contact Marketing Assistant Ida Svensson, for further information.