Automated Scrap Material Flow

Primetals Technologies has continually worked on perfecting the automated scrap material flow for steel plants that are based on electric arc furnaces (EAFs). Depending on the customer’s requirements and the targeted scope of automation, various configurations are possible. In principle, the automated scrap material flow comprises the automated scrap bucket loading at the scrap yard and the automated charging of scrap into the EAF.

The basis of the fully automated scrap yard is Primetals Technologies’ EAF Chargeopt solution. This is a scrap-charging system that can operate largely without human interaction, and comprises patented scrap-bucket detection as well as a charging-crane positioning system, which enables the automation of all processes related to the feeding of scrap into the EAF. The system’s precise and perfectly repeatable movement patterns lead to faster EAF charging and reduced maintenance needs.

The EAF Chargeopt technology also vastly increases the safety of the staff and the involved equipment. The execution of all automated routines is monitored by an operator in the control room. EAF Chargeopt can easily be added to existing plants and typically leads to a significant reduction in plant downtime. The mechanism for the unloading of scrap into the EAF supports both a main crane (to lift up the ladle) and an auxiliary crane (to pull the ladle’s opening latch at the right time). Power-off times are shortened, and a drop in human-labor requirements and equipment costs can be expected as well. The amortization time for an EAF Chargeopt installation is usually between 9 and 15 months short.

In addition to the EAF Chargeopt, an advanced scrap-yard automation concept has been devised in close cooperation with an Italian partner. Based on a specifiable loading recipe for the ideal scrap composition, the system is capable of loading the scrap buckets, which are typically located on scrap cars, exactly as desired. Once filled, the scrap cars are transported to the melt shop without the need for any human intervention whatsoever, to then be picked up by the charging crane. The rather impressive accuracy for both EAF Chargeopt and scrap-yard automation is at 1 cm horizontally and 0.5 cm vertically. Remarkably, even complex scrap-yard layouts can be accommodated, and multiple yards can be incorporated into one automation setup.

A recent addition to the proven capabilities of the scrap-yard design of Primetals Technologies is the automation of scrap-yard cranes. The development of this aspect of the fully automated scrap yard has reached a progressed stage, and the first implementations in steel plants are expected to start soon, as customers have already shown keen interest in the technology.