Moduloc Control Systems and Shapeline enter business partnership.

Shapeline, front-line maker of online flatness measurement systems for the steel and metal industry, enters a business co-operation with Moduloc for the UK and Irish markets.

Moduloc Control Systems have for 25 years supplied the British market with sensors and measurement systems. The company will as of now represent Shapeline´s full range of flatness measurement systems for cold and hot applications in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Moduloc and we met at an advanced project for a customer in Latin America,” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. ”Since representation in the United Kingdom and Ireland have not been optimal for us, and the fit between our companies is very good, it was an easy decision to start working together also in this way”

”The technically advanced solutions and the dedication to quality development for the metals industry is something that Shapeline and Moduloc shares,” says Mr. Paul Griffin, Managing Director of Moduloc Control Systems Ltd.. “AS Dr. Kierkegaard mentioned we are working together on a technical project, of which I hope to be able to soon announce, where mutual respect for our respective solutions and knowledge made this partnership seem like the natural way forward”, he continues.

Shapeline systems are used from Korea to the USA to measure flatness on metal products. From casting to inspection of the final product there are applications where the manufacturers will benefit from the accuracy and experience of the company.

For more information about the product and how it can be used in your production, please do not hesitate to contact Shapeline or the Representative in your market.

About Moduloc
The Company has a long history of supplying Sensors and Measuring Systems to the Metals Industry in providing the latest technology for precise product measurement as well as for material handling positioning systems. Typical applications are to determine position, width, thickness, flatness or velocity. The Company has offices in UK, USA and China, as well as an experienced team of international agents to provide local support. Company policy is to provide the latest in technology to meet the changing requirements of industry. Moduloc represents the whole solution for detection and measurement on the line as well as material handling in and around the plant. More information on the web at www.moduloc-intl.com.

Shapeline in the Arctic – System delivered to Swebor Stål.

Swebor Stål’s plant in Jokkmokk, Sweden, just north of the Arctic Circle, hardens steel plates for demanding customers. With a new leveller and a Shapeline system, the flatness of the plates can now be controlled and documented with utmost accuracy.

Using Shapeline systems to control and verify leveling and flatness for plates and sheets is increasingly becoming standard practice among the leading makers of flat steel in Europe. The time and costs saved when getting immediate feedback on whether the product is ready or needs another levelling pass is enough to justify the investment. With the documentation of every single plate that is produced, completely new possibilities to handle the relationship with the end-user are created.

“Customers like Swebor show that an investment in our system is also wise for smaller companies,” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. ”The majority of our customers include the biggest steelmakers in the world, but even small and specialized operators require advanced quality systems like ours”.

”Our end-customers and steel operators like SSAB and Ruukki, whom we work close with, have high expectations on the flatness of our product,” says the Swebor Project Leader Mr. Helge Mäkitalo. “With our new system, we can verify that we fulfill those expectations.”

Shapeline systems are used all over the world to measure flatness on metal products. From casting to inspection of the final product there are applications where the manufacturers will benefit from the accuracy and experience of the company. For plate mills in particular, the technology used is without a match in producing accurate and reliable data.

About Swebor
Swebor Stål Svenska AB, established in 1982, is a specialist company with customers worldwide. Their business concept is heat-treating boron steel, which is mostly used in the mining, mechanical engineering and construction machinery industries. Please visit www.swebor.se.

Shapeline on Primary Metals day, Sofia, Bulgaria

Shapeline participated on the EATON Vickers Hydraulics Forum in Sofia, Bulgaria arranged by our local representative Rhea MP GmbH in cooperation with Eaton Vickers.

One of the days, Primary Metals day, was arranged specifically for the Bulgarian metal producers. In addition to Shapeline, a number of suppliers to the steel industry presented the current state-of-the art products, e.g. Mesacon Messelektronik, EMG and Eaton.

The arrangement, which was going on for three days in total, attracted a large number of participants from the Bulgarian industry.

The forum is an annual event. Please see www.rheamp.com for more information.

Shapeline flatness measurement systems increase productivity in plate mills.

Shapeline systems have been used in the SSAB plate mill of Oxelösund in Sweden since 2001. With seven installed systems so far, the benefits in plate production are obvious for SSAB and other steelmakers who require a product with advanced qualities.

“We are no longer content with being a regional provider to the North European steel industry,” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. ”We are now stepping up our activities towards plate mills all over Europe and the rest of the world to promote how Shapeline systems can improve production processes and deliver a documented higher quality than before.”

By increasing knowledge about flatness parameters in different parts of production lines for plates, benefits are gained quickly – some are easy to calculate, some are more difficult.

Examples of benefits claimed by customers using Shapeline systems are numerous.

They include: More precise production towards tighter norms; increased knowledge about how results are impacted by changes in settings; fast data for 100% of the plates on 100% of the plate; cost is lower than by manual measurement; space is saved; returns have decreased or even ceased; average time in production has decreased; quenching has been approved; leveling has become more efficient and the yield has gone up because of less scrap and more optimized edge trimming and cutting.

Shapeline plans to individually contact all plate mills in Europe, and later on, on other continents, to show how the systems can be used to improve the processes and end product.

For more information about the Shapeline’s products and how they can be used in production, please do not hesitate to contact Shapeline directly, or a local representative.

Shapeline and Mesacon cooperate on new generation measurement systems for the steel industry

The Russian Steel operator Mechel is the first customer to order the new Integrated Multi Measurement system that has been jointly developed by Shapeline AB and Mesacon Messelektronik GmbH. The system, specially designed for hot rolling mills, offers position and flatness-compensated thickness profiles. In addition, it offers flatness, width, speed, length, and temperature profiles from one single system. Several other customers are expressing keen interest in the product and more deliveries are expected during the year.

The environment in a hot rolling mill is very demanding. Smoke, vapor, water and heat provide challenges for both correct measurements and for the long-time survival of the sensors. The sensors of the new instrument are all integrated in the well-proven mechanics of the Mesacon C-Frames. Air-purges, heat shields and both active and passive cooling is used to ensure low maintenance, long life and trustworthy data.

“This is the first time we at Shapeline integrate our system into a system provided by a partner company, but it is not the last,” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. ”The competence and experience of Mesacon in this line of business is helping us to enter this new area, for us, in an efficient way.”

Detlef Jährling, Vice President of Mesacon says: “For a long time, we have worked together with Shapeline in the marketing area. I am happy that we now also have taken this further to the product development stage. The combined benefits of our respective competence areas are providing our customers the best solution available.”

For more information about the product and how it can be used in your production, please do not hesitate to contact either company or their representative on your market.

About Mesacon
Customers from all over the world have trusted in the high precision technique for the thickness and layer thickness measuring of MESACON Messelektronik GmbH for more than 50 years. Modular system components for non-contact and non-destructive measuring technique in real time enable our customers the fully automated control of their production processes. Please visit home page www.mesacon.com for further information.

Shapeline recruits Örjan Festin, PhD, as an Application Engineer

The leading developer of Flatness Measurement Systems for the steel and metal industries, Shapeline AB in Sweden has recruited Örjan Festin, PhD. With the competence of Dr. Festin the company is further advancing its knowledge on how its systems are used in the customer environment.

“We are happy to welcome Dr. Festin to Shapeline,” says Shapeline´s CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. “Through his background and education, Dr. Festin is knowledgeable about the problems in the industry that we are addressing. So far we have been very specialized on our own competence areas, measurements and software. Now we have new expertise.”

Örjan Festin earned a Masters of Science in Engineering Physics with Material Sciences from Uppsala University in 1999.

In March 2005, Festin earned a PhD in Solid State Physics at the same university. His area of research area was superconductors. During his studies he was also a guest researcher at the “Institut für Angewandte Physik “ at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Since 2004, Dr. Festin has been employed at Ovako Steel in Sweden. He started as the manager of the group performing physical testing within the metallurgy area. Later, he became an R&D engineer, working with projects in automated inclusion rating and ultrasonic immersion testing.

Björn Lyckström from Åkers joins Shapeline Board

Shapeline, the rapidly growing Swedish high tech company, has recruited Björn Lyckström to the Board of Directors in order to come closer to its customers.

“Having access to the experience, knowledge and network of Mr. Lyckström gives Shapeline advantages that many larger and older companies do not yet have,” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. ”Already, in our first planning sessions Mr. Lyckström has given valuable input on how we will prioritize markets and customer segments, and on how we can protect our intellectual property in high risk projects. With Mr. Lyckström aboard, we have gained more years of experience than what would have been possible otherwise. I, the rest of the company and the Board wish Mr. Lyckström a very warm welcome to the Shapeline team!”

Björn Lyckström graduated from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1968 with a Masters of Science in Metallurgy. He has since become a well-known profile in the Swedish and international steel making industries.

His previous positions include: Plant Research Engineer at the Scana Björneborg Steel plant; Section Manager Steel Plant Research at the SSAB and Department Manager; and Steel Foundry Manager at the Bofors Steel Division.

In the last 27 years, Lyckström has been active at Åkers, a world-leading manufacturer of cast rolls. Between 1980 and 1995, he held the position of General Manager Technology at the R&D Department. Between 1995 and 2000, he was General Manager Marketing & Sales, and between 2000 and 2004 he was Director of International Sales. His latest position within Åkers was as Product Manager Hot Strip Mill Work Rolls. In these different roles, Mr. Lyckström has been a key player in establishing Åkers leading position on the market.

Shapeline presents at Quality Days in China and Russia

Shapeline have together with the other high-tech companies LDV Systeme GmbH, Mesacon Messelektronik GmbH, EMG Automation GmbH and Vatron GmbH for the first time organized Quality Days for customers and experts in China and Russia – in Beijing, Shanghai and Moscow.

On the well received Quality Days, held in Chinese and Russian language respectively, the seminar program included analysis of world and local market as well as presentation of the participants’ views, products and experiences. The attendants were decision makers and experts from all the well known Chinese and Russian steel makers.

“It is important for us small and medium size companies to be able show what we can do also on markets a bit further away from our homes” says Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD. He continues: ”Very often a smaller supplier will be more customer oriented and knowledgeable on areas we specialize on than larger and less specialized companies. The Quality Days have proven to be an excellent vehicle to make our knowledge and expertise available also to operators in China and Russia, new contacts have been established that will be of benefits both for them and for us”.

The success of these first Quality Days have been so clear that the companies already decided to repeat on new markets – exactly where and when still to be defined. Keep an eye on www.quality-days.com for more information or contact any of the participating companies.

Shapeline further improves flatness for Hugo Vogelsang GmbH

Shapeline is growing the number of deliveries to the quality conscious German steel market. This time it is the long term customer Hugo Vogelsang that has received their fourth Shapeline 500 system. As with the other delivered systems, the new system will through precision crossbow measurements enable Hugo Vogelsang to adjust hardening parameters and assure quality of delivered products.

Shapeline CEO, Pär Kierkegaard, PhD, says:”Our seven year history of delivering flatness measurement systems to Hugo Vogelsang proves that a company determined to keep their quality advantage find our equipment the best tool for flatness control. We are proud of being an important factor why Hugo Vogelsang, and other European makers of quality steel products, continue their world leadership.”

Mr. Hartmut Heckermann, Dipl.-Ing. and Managing Director at Hugo Vogelsang says: “Shapeline has shown that with their systems we can hold on to our leading-quality approach.” He continues: “Our current first three systems have proven that not only is the information they provide correct and useful, but also that they and Shapeline are reliable components in our highly efficient production process. We are together with Shapeline looking at possibilities to use the systems also for other purposes than we currently use and expect our relation to continue for many years to come.”

About Hugo Vogelsang GmbH
HUGO VOGELSANG has earned international recognition as a producer of hardened and unhardened quality and high-grade steel strip. The basis of this success is a combination of decades of experience, precision and flexibility as well as trustful cooperation with industrial end-users.
As a company within the private owned BILSTEIN-Group. HUGO VOGELSANG has developed into one of the leading producers of hardened quality and high-grade steel strip.
For more information please visit the Hugo Vogelsang website, http://www.vogelsang-bandstahl.de/ and http://www.bilstein-gruppe.de

A Company with Flattitude – by Paul R. Compton

The ability to manufacture steel with a high degree of flatness has always been a prime objective of the steel industry. Not only is planity a critical property that has a direct bearing on the users’ ability to utilize material efficiently, it can also decisively enhance a manufacturer’s competitiveness. The advent of the latest generation of non-contact, high precision flatness measurement technology from Sweden has already consigned all conventional methods to the history books and is fast establishing unsurpassed benchmarks.

In their endeavour to attain improved levels of productivity and increasingly high standards of quality, a growing number of steel and metal manufacturers have sought new ways and opportunities to meet increasing market demands for ever flatter products. Although non-contact measurement of manifested flatness for steel and plate is by no means a new phenomenon to the steel industry, the methodology used to accomplish this has witnessed significant development since its inception, with major technological advances enabling manufacturers to realize their highly ambitious goals.

Widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities in this field, the Linköping-headquartered enterprise Shapeline AB in Sweden has taken its competitors and rivals to task with its development of a non-contact, precision flatness measurement technology that has confounded the method’s sceptics and detractors. A claim vindicated by the success the company has experienced in attracting the attention of the industry’s blue-chip heavyweights across the globe, translating the interest into a growing list of international advocates and references.

“Unlike our competitors, Shapeline already opted more than ten years ago to research and develop a range of planity measurement and control solutions not only based on computation of the I-unit profile, but also the laser-line triangulation principle in combination with retrieval of the material’s topographical data”, explains company founder and Managing Director, Dr. Pär Kierkegaard. “Laser-line triangulation is based on a red diode laser with a line producing optics that spreads the laser light in one dimension to create a fan of light. Shapeline uses refractive optics that make the intensity even, assuring even measurement accuracy across the width.

“The line is focused on the material and clearly visible. If the surface is uneven, it may be observed with the naked eye as a slight bending of the laser line,” says Dr. Kierkegaard. “To obtain the shape automatically and more precisely, the continuous laser line is observed with a 2D matrix camera. The line is subsequently projected in the camera image across the picture and the software can detect the line for every column in the picture. The usual way is to detect the theoretical centre of gravity of the line in every point with sub-pixel accuracy. This ensures the measurement is not only precise, but also independent of the actual intensity and surface reflectivity. The intensity itself is not important, only the position of the line.

“Since the camera may have several hundred columns, the number of measurement points is high. Shapeline solutions can provide over 4,000 points across the width by using several synchronized cameras. Since all measurement points are acquired simultaneously, we can ‘freeze’ the shape in terms of flatness and transverse bend measurement – more commonly known as crossbow – to produce high-precision reports.”

The double laser line approach also differentiates itself from other methods in that it permits local surface slope measurement, both in width and length, in addition to 3D-positions that can be used for material vibration compensation and, to some extent, elastic deformation compensation. “By projecting two laser lines one after another in the transport direction, we are able to measure the local surface gradient”, explains Dr. Kierkegaard. “A shape defect always produces a change in the local gradient, whereas a vibration does not. Even if there is a vibration, the gradient is the same. In fact, an elastic deformation gives no or very limited gradient change unless the material reshapes, i.e. the buckles move.” The resultant compensation has the advantage of enabling measurement of manifested flatness with high resolution even of material that is moving on roller tables or experiencing severe vibrations in the lines.

According to Dr. Kierkegaard, the method was first conducted in controlled laboratory conditions and following fine tuning and refinement was tested by several customers before ultimately being fully commissioned in both strip and plate lines, initially on conveyor belt lines and, following further research and development, roller tables.

“Non-contact flatness measurement of thin steel plate on roller tables has always represented the most difficult application manufacturers have had to battle with. However, we have been able to adapt and refine the double laser-line triangulation principle adopted by Shapeline – in combination with the retrieval of topographical 3D-data and I-unit computation – to create a reliable, high-precision solution for non-contact measurements on roller tables.”

Qualifying as the world’s foremost manufacturer of quenched and tempered heavy plate, SSAB Oxelösund began within the commissioning of a new facility for the production lines of thin steel plates in 1998. As requirements for optimum productivity and quality were very high combined with a rising user demand for high flatness, SSAB saw the long-term opportunities of working with Shapeline and entered a co-operation. Today, Shapeline systems are in operation on no less than seven of the production lines at the SSAB steelworks in Oxelösund.

As customers have discovered, the advantages to be gained by using Shapeline technology are manifold. Higher standards of quality result in higher levels of satisfaction among clients who can further strengthen their market positions. Improvements in production efficiency made possible by measurement on-line yield significant savings in terms of time and costs. As Ola Hägglund, Head of Plate Division, SSAB Oxelösund, explains, thanks to Shapeline, SSAB is now in a position whereby it can conduct precise, objective and systematic measurement and product development warranting benefits in both the short and long-term.

“When SSAB entered the market some years back with thin plate products, we embarked on a co-operation with Shapeline that allowed us to solve a number of levelling issues”, recalls Ola Hägglund. “Since then we have, together with the help of Shapeline, improved our ability to resolve levelling process problems to a point where we are now able to provide our customers with a product that is defined.

“Without Shapeline technology we wouldn’t be able to produce and deliver closely defined products in accordance with the most stringent customer specifications as we do today,” continues Hägglund. “It also sharpens our competitive edge in terms of the capacity of our production lines. In a nutshell, our production costs would be higher without Shapeline.

“Having begun with on-line measurement systems for conveyor belt lines, we have now found a solution for non-contact measurement on roller tables. This is an example where use of Shapeline technology can be extended and an illustration of how co-operation has improved our flexibility in the measurement of plate.

“In terms of benefits, it would be true to say that reductions in overheads and lead times combined with a higher quality product have not only enabled us to gain a better price for our products but also to establish ourselves as preferred supplier with a large number of customers,” he adds. “This is especially important when the market is in decline.”

The improvements in efficiency generated by the ability to feed steel plate directly into the manufacturing line process at the normal production rate also render considerable space savings. “Bearing in mind the effects on material and limitations with regard to material handling make manual measurements on-line impossible, Shapeline’s contact-free planity measurement has meant a great deal to SSAB Oxelösund,” says Anders Carlestam, Project Leader SSAB Oxelösund. “The technology enables us to deliver material with tolerances finer than our competitors can guarantee.

“Implementation of on-line measurement technology not only allows us to detect the very smallest defects and improve the already high levels of performance, but has also allowed us to resolve some technical issues we weren’t even aware of earlier. This has subsequently enabled us to help our customers optimise their own production procedures,” adds Carlestam.

“In terms of amortization, the Shapeline system already paid for itself during the start-up phase of the quenching line. But we can see on-going major economic benefits are resulting from reduced scrap metal volumes and improved productivity.”

Shapeline’s co-operation with SSAB Oxelösund looks set to continue in the future. “Based on our positive experiences to date, we can already say that on-line flatness measurement technology will be a feature of any new plate lines we design in the future,” states Jan Steninger, Strategic Investments Manager SSAB Oxelösund. “It enables us here at SSAB to achieve savings in terms of workshop floor space, manpower and heavy equipment.

“There is no doubt that if you cannot measure accurately, you cannot improve the product. Shapeline technology has enabled us to deliver products over and above the accepted norms and specifications, and attain the highest standards in terms of quality, uniformity and flatness that are best suited to market demands,” concludes Steninger.

By providing accurate, high-precision measurement results, the double laser-line triangulation principle is well on the way to establishing itself as the prime on-line measurement principle of manifested flatness for flat metal products. To this end, Shapeline has developed a highly functional and flexible programme of systems geared to suit a wide range of metal production applications thus making reliable on-line planity measurement a reality in a fast growing number of strip and plate production facilities across the globe.

Paul R. Compton is a British freelance journalist resident in Sweden since 1992 and a regular contributor to European business titles and publications since 1986.