Metals

Fairfields has been supplying control and monitoring systems to the UK and European metals industry for over 20 years, where we have built a vast experience profile in supplying high quality control system solutions to a market sector that has faced various challenges from a technical and financial perspective.

We can provide integrated control system support in all areas associated with the process of steel production, including:

  • Raw material handling of coal and ore
  • Blast and BOS furnace additive systems
  • Primary and re-heat furnace control and extraction systems
  • Continuous casting and mill control
  • Grinding, scarfing and finishing processes
  • Associated ancillary processes including water cooling, crane control and product transfer and storage systems

In many cases, the lack of investment within some areas of the steel industry has meant that steel production is monitored and controlled by legacy control systems and relatively slow communications networks. Frequently, system upgrades and PLC migration have been implemented due to necessity, which has meant that our engineering team have had to employ innovative ways in which to implement these upgrades, often in very short shutdown periods whilst simultaneously incorporating functional safety improvements and improved automation techniques.

These techniques have ranged from installing new standalone PLC and Motor Control Centres (MCCs) to large networked control and supervisory systems, which can reduce the amount of down time and minimise maintenance requirements, to simple energy saving solutions by replacing old motor starter equipment with Variable Speed Drives (VSD’s) in conjunction with more efficient motors, improved control philosophies and control loops.

As legacy control systems near the end of their lifecycle, our dedicated team of service support engineers and technicians can support and maintain areas of plant until the investment level is available to satisfy the cost of the upgrade.

The metals manufacturing industry has been instrumental in the growth and development of Fairfields and our engineering capabilities. We feel that our experience and continued support can assist with the necessary improvements that will help the steel industry to develop once more.

Speciality Metals

Fairfields has supplied supervisory systems to speciality metals manufacturing facilities, incorporating high level database solutions for process data track and trace applications where system integrity and stability is of paramount importance and where single points of failure are unacceptable.

Metals diagram

Our Engineers designed, tested and implemented a redundant top-end control system and network architecture to ensure that the critical data associated with each part as it moved through the process was recorded logged and not invalidated. This system provided full product traceability.

Steel Manufacture and Integrated Safety

The heavy industrial environment supporting the steel manufacturing process is based around heavy industry and control systems, producing, transporting and working molten and steel. Safety system assessments and specification play a pivotal role in the design and implementation phase of any project ensuring that the control system complies with current machine and process safety legislations, to the benefit of the manufacturing and operational process.

Steel plants can be dangerous places for the personnel operating them. We have implemented a range of safety related control systems, to the current ISO 13849 IEC 62061 and IEC 61508 functional safety legislations. Our expertise ranges from relatively simple emergency stop and machine guarding solutions, using standard safety instrumentation and control equipment, to furnace control and large scale mill immobilisation solutions utilising the latest generation of programmable safety controllers.

Two recent projects involving functional safety and PLC migration were the East and West Bundler Immobilisation project at TATA Steel, Rotherham and the 32” Mill Immobilisation project at TATA Steel, Stocksbridge.

East and West Bundler Immobilisation

The bundler control system upgrades replaced an old and increasingly unreliable relay logic control system whilst incorporating a safety immobilisation system. The solution was based around a Siemens S7 Failsafe PLC, six remote I/O nodes and mutable operator control stations and operator interfaces. The key element of the project being to replicate the legacy control system functionality, whilst incorporating the safety immobilisation system in such a way that there was no impact on plant production.

32” Mill Immobilisation

The 32” mill immobilisation system was a new PLC installation based around a S7 Failsafe PLC which controlled safe operator access to the 32” mill in accordance with IEC 62061 SIL3 by ensuring all drives were immobilised prior to permitting operators and maintenance personnel entry into the production areas. The key elements of this project were the distributed safety I/O network and the safe isolation of various DC drives, in particular the 4000HP 900VDC main mill motor.

 

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