The rapid and safe rebuilding of blast furnaces is one of the most important objectives of steel producers; their main goal is to reduce downtime, and therefore, the loss of production and the total cost of repair. That is why the DOMINION robotic machine, Cobra Carbon Grinder, makes a big difference in this type of projects by applying an innovative and technological process that increases efficiency, safety and reduces project costs.
"The Cobra machine saves time and investment through an efficient process that combines technologies", explains Iván Fernández, director of Industrial Installation & Linings.
Where the need for Cobra came from
The initiative to develop an improved system for the grinding of bottom layers of the blast furnace crucible arose when verifying that the use of conventional systems was not effective because of being subjected to important operational complications. The extensive exposure to coal dust and the faults that this entails, the fact that it is a relatively slow process, especially the assembly and disassembly of the equipment, as well as the necessary manual finishing of the perimeter zone, significantly increase the duration of the repair.
The result was a longer period of inactivity than necessary of the furnace, which entailed high costs in the project and loss of production, losing the advantage of not having to acquire the layer of carbon material.
After evaluating and considering the operational difficulties, it became evident that there are opportunities to improve the existing conventional polishing system. At a time of growth in the integration of IT software and robotic handling in the iron and steel industry, the possibility of combining them was contemplated. The idea was simple; it was a robot operated by a software program that grinds the surface automatically, without the need for manual work; in this way, complications with existing conventional systems are reduced.
How Cobra Carbon Grinder works
And how does it do it? Combining and optimizing different interconnected processes, thus giving solution to the main difficulties presented by this type of actions.
The robot adjusts to the requirements of flexibility for its ability to move and rectify, the machine must be able to polish the surface of the entire circumference of the furnace as close as possible to the external shell. The Cobra Carbon Grinder software monitors and controls the entire grinding process with a maximum deviation of less than 0.5 mm on the surface of the blocks; In order to guarantee this accuracy, a topographic laser scanning instrument is connected to the control computer to send the coordinates of the surface. The combination of the measuring instrument and the sophisticated software play a crucial role in the accuracy of grinding, as does the displacement system. Cobra is held in place by a vacuum system, installed at the bottom.
On the other hand, the polishing head is a very expensive element in this process that requires multiple replacement during operation due to rapid wear; This significantly affects the costs and duration of the project. However, with Cobra Carbon Grinder an improved diamond head that works for a longer period of time with less wear is added, which significantly reduces the amount of spare parts needed and increases the net-working time.
Another key point of the machine is the dust removal system, since prolonged exposure to carbon dust during this operation is a risk that affects the health of workers, visibility and can lead to electrical problems during the works. To reduce this problem, an improved suction system that collects dust during the entire process is applied.
DOMINION, leader in the search for efficiency
Known for helping its customers to make their production processes more efficient by combining knowledge, technology and innovation, DOMINION again shows its ability to offer innovative and efficient solutions tailored to the needs of its customers, in this case, blast furnaces.
In fact, and given that the materials with which it works (carbon materials) require a lot of energy for its manufacture, Cobra also makes its contribution to the preservation of our environment, considerably reducing the harmful emissions resulting from these processes.
The tool manages to reduce time invested, as well as resources destined to the maintenance process, achieving a high performance when applying technology and innovation.