A leading steel company was looking for a solution to a problem it faced in its manufacturing units. The steel manufacturer wanted to detect and remove impurities in raw material before feeding it into blast furnaces.
Many a times, heavy industries face the dilemma of whether they should invest in state-of-the-art equipment or extend the useful life of existing machinery. While manufacturers realize the benefits of new-age technologies, prohibitive upfront investments pose a challenge. Retrofitting equipment such as IoT sensors to existing machinery could be a practical solution to this problem. TCS Research’s work on unobtrusive sensing enables organizations to adopt IoT with minimal effort and costs, and no disruption to existing manufacturing processes.
A Steel Manufacturer’s ‘Crushing’ Problem
Pulverized coal is used as a carbon source for reduction of iron in steel plants. Coal is pulverized through a crushing and grinding process at high temperatures. The presence of foreign particles, such as rocks, stones, rubber, concrete, and wood in the raw coal input stream causes outages in the grinding mills. The impurities are generally higher in density and larger in size than the coal input. These draw more electricity at variable speed drives, resulting in power trips. Outages typically last for about six to seven hours and are more frequent during monsoons when raw material is stored in the open.
Furthermore, these outages lead to increased consumption of raw input and production interferences. Higher costs are incurred due to damages to the blade and conveyer belts. Production is brought to a standstill for at least six to eight hours, resulting in losses of over $80,000 per incident.
Foreign Particle Detection using Polarimetry: an Unobtrusive Sensing Technique
A TCS Research team working on unobtrusive sensing proposed to customize their intellectual property to create an unobtrusive and contactless method to solve the problem of impurities. The system was built to detect and localize impurities before the inputs entered the grinding mills. A sensing and processing system was set up to observe the surface of the conveyor belt carrying the input.