Emerson's wireless technology improves productivity at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel

Oct. 4, 2007

Austin, Texas, October 3 – Emerson Process Management today announced several successful applications of its Smart Wireless solution at the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, headquartered in Wheeling, W.V.. Wheeling-Pittsburgy is a major producer of carbon flat rolled products for the construction, container, appliance, converter/processor, steel service center, and automotive markets. Wireless transmitters are delivering previously unattainable data on conditions in the 80-inch hot strip mill in Mingo Junction, Ohio, enabling operating personnel to improve product quality and increase productivity.

Emerson's Smart Wireless network is operating in both the roughing and finishing sections of the hot strip mill. This self-organizing network automatically adapts as device points are added or removed, so installing more transmitters has become common since the initial installation proved to be so effective. The transmitted signals are received through a single gateway and delivered directly to the Pi data historian for trending and alarming.The operators therefore have continuous access to the data which they are using to improve operations and maintenance.

According to Gary Borham, operations manager at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, "We are building an infrastructure that opens up opportunities for more and more applications. Wireless transmitters are being installed farther and farther away from the gateway without a loss of signal quality. The result is better information from difficult-to-reach areas of the mill, and this is helping our personnel prevent unscheduled downtime, meet customers' quality requirements, and optimize productivity."

Borham said the initial wireless installation included four Rosemount wireless dP flow meters with Annubars and one 1420 gateway that were communicating in "less than 24 hours." The resulting data enabled the operators to get firm control of the volume of water being sprayed onto the hot steel surfaces on the run-out table in order to achieve specified coiling temperatures. This wireless system has delivered high returns, supplying flow data to optimize and improve strip cooling and nearly eliminate coiling temperature rejects.

"We previously had no way of knowing how much water was being sprayed over the surface of any given piece of steel traveling down the run-out table," Borham said. "The volume of water applied was determined by look and feel with the adjustment of a manual valve. Now, the actual water flow is known, making it possible to always attain the optimum coiling temperature. The guesswork has been taken out of the cooling process and replaced with science."

In another finishing mill application, two Rosemount wireless pressure transmitters are monitoring the run-out-table greasing system, providing an alarm in case of a system failure threatening to starve bearings of lubricant and cause a roller lock-up that could damage steel on the table. This wireless early warning system makes it possible for maintenance personnel to prevent unscheduled downtime by making system repairs before a bearing seizure can occur. Plans now call for wireless pressure transmitters on all roller greasing systems.

A third wireless application involves the use of two wireless pressure transmitters to monitor the pressure of cooling water supplied to work rolls in the roughing mill. If the water pressure should drop suddenly, an alarm is raised so action can be taken to prevent roll overheating. After only one of the wireless pressure transmitters was installed, operators were surprised to see two pressure devices show up on the control system. The second device was sitting on the floor of the maintenance shop two buildings away, communicating through concrete walls. Now, eight more wireless transmitters are on order for this purpose.

Emerson's Smart Wireless Solution is an extension of its PlantWeb digital plant architecture, combining smart monitoring devices with wireless transmitters and a Time Synchronized Mesh Protocol (TSMP) communications technology, which has been extensively tested in real-world environments.