Informatization injects vitality into metallurgical automation

In recent years, the external competition environment faced by steel companies has undergone earth-shaking changes. In terms of energy consumption, the iron and steel industry consumes about 11% of my country’s total energy consumption. Compared with the world’s advanced level, the energy consumption per ton of steel is 10% higher. In terms of customer service, customers are increasingly demanding steel varieties and specifications. The more diversified, the more stringent requirements on product quality and delivery time. In addition, the financial crisis has added many variables to the development of the domestic metallurgical industry, and the development of metallurgical enterprises can be described as “internal and external troubles.”
Relevant policies recently issued by the state show that the development of informatization of steel enterprises has been highly valued by Chinese government departments and metallurgical enterprises. Under such circumstances, some large domestic steel and metallurgical enterprises have begun to consider implementing advanced production and operation management models and systems to adapt to changes in the external competitive environment.

The demand of iron and steel enterprises drives the development of automation technology

Before the 1970s, my country’s iron and steel enterprises generally adopted single-loop control, and the control equipment was conventional instruments with simple control levels. Since the 1990s, the automation of my country’s metallurgical industry has developed rapidly. Under the requirements of process optimization and informatization, the control equipment is mainly PLC, DCS, FCS, etc., and the control level has reached the level of quasi-unmanned. In recent years, some large-scale steel enterprises in my country have basically realized the informationization of the whole plant, and the three-level structure of BPS/MES/PCS has appeared in the control system. Liu Wei, deputy director of the Zhongkuan Cold Belt Plant of Lingyuan Iron and Steel Company, said that the first world trade war of China’s entry into the WTO broke out in the iron and steel industry. Coupled with the impact of the financial crisis and the shrinking of the international market, iron and steel enterprises have to be tested. Higher than other industries. In such an open environment, the improvement of the automation level of domestic steel plants is also the general trend.

At present, in addition to producing various types of automation products and equipment, domestic and foreign electrical automation companies have integrated equipment that has become the first choice of steel companies. It is understood that while Siemens, ABB, Schneider, GE and other companies provide products, they will also provide individualized solutions for metallurgical enterprises. Factory Director Liu said: “Automation instruments, sensors, electronic control devices and technologies, including intelligent control automation systems all have a lot of room for development.”

It is understood that basic automation in the metallurgical industry is the most basic part of the production process. The more complex the production process, the higher the degree of basic automation. In the blast furnace system, it even reaches 100%, and continuous casting and rolling steel also reach nearly 99%; production Process control automation technology has also been significantly improved. Production process control automation is an important link to improve product quality and ensure optimal control of the production process. A large number of mathematical models and artificial intelligence technologies are widely used at this level; workshop management level or manufacturing execution The system has received widespread attention from iron and steel companies in recent years. Some domestic companies have introduced advanced technologies at home and abroad to develop production execution systems on new or renovated production lines. Factory Manager Liu explained: “The manufacturing execution system is mainly composed of the regional management computer system to complete many functions such as online operation planning, production scheduling management, and quality tracking control.”

Speed ​​up the promotion of informatization

The position of the workshop management level or the manufacturing execution system in the enterprise information architecture is very important. Through the seamless connection and system integration of the control system and the management information system, the real-time production data and instructions can be communicated smoothly. Director Liu introduced to reporters: “As of 2008, enterprises that account for 50% of the national steel output have achieved informatization. However, there are still some iron and steel plants that have a low level of informatization applications. These plants have only built computer local area networks in the workshops. And a small amount of production report processing, and a large amount of actual production data still needs to be completed manually.”

He also proposed that the promotion of informatization should take into account the factors of the steel company’s automation level. For companies that already have a complete set of automated production lines, they have accumulated a lot of useful experience in informatization, so the focus of their work is on the innovation of business processes and systems; companies with a high level of equipment automation can shift their focus to corporate management For iron and steel enterprises with long equipment age, serious aging, low level of automation, and weak funds, it is very difficult to implement large-scale information systems, so we should strengthen the equipment basic automation and introduce some simple computer aids in business management. system.

At present, my country’s leading steel companies have listed informatization as one of the measures to improve their core competitiveness. With the development of information technology, the application of MES has become the focus of attention of steel companies. With the further acceleration of product structure adjustment, the demand for MES will become more and more urgent. The state has taken active and encouraging measures in the development of enterprise informatization, which has also greatly promoted the informatization construction process of steel enterprises.

Overview of metallurgical automation trends

In the development of detection technology and instrumentation, the trend of networking, virtualization, intelligence, and high precision is becoming more and more obvious; in industrial control, the application of PLC and DCS is mainly used, and the application prospect of fieldbus technology is promising. Director Liu introduced that in the metallurgical industry, PLC and DCS have a tendency to move closer to each other. That is to say, PLC has strengthened the loop control function, and DCS has also been greatly improved in terms of sequence control function. Regarding the choice between the two, major steel companies have different opinions. Due to price considerations, some companies prefer to choose a full PLC system.

At present, the development of visualization technology and monitoring system also provides more convenience for the metallurgical industry. Due to the closed nature of the blast furnace, the importance of instrument detection is particularly important. In recent years, due to the development of testing technology, computing technology, image processing technology, and modeling, multimedia virtual technology has made the originally vague process more transparent and visual, which greatly facilitates the actual operation of steel employees. In addition, in order to reduce costs, foreign countries have introduced the concept of “unmanned factory” or “quasi-unmanned factory” into the metallurgical industry. The unmanned operation of the entire workshop allows the steel company’s staff to save the most.

Finally, Director Liu added: “Due to different industries, the corresponding automation products or technologies are quite different. The metallurgical industry contains the characteristics of the traditional automation industry, but also includes the automation technology applied in the power field of power plants, such as The development of advanced clean coal combustion technologies such as coal gasification combined cycle, atmospheric circulating fluidized bed boilers and pressurized fluidized bed combustion boilers in the metallurgical industry is relatively optimistic. As the main body of the metallurgical industry, I personally think that the development of fieldbus technology The application space is large.