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PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENTS AT CONTINUOUS CASTING ROD PLANT OF STERLITE COPPER AT SILVASSA Balachandran P. Kamath Ra!ha"#ndra Ad$!

a L%&#'h K(mar Sharma Sam##r G()ta St#rl$t# Ind('tr$#' *Ind$a+ L$m$t#d S$l"a''a.

A,'tract Sterlite copper operates two continuous cast copper rod plants located at Silvassa, India. The plants are using Continuus Properzi technology and have capacities of 12 MT !r and 1" MT hr. #ver the last few years, several i$prove$ents have %een carried out at the rod plants, which has resulted in higher productivity and efficiency level. This was possi%le due to $odernization, application of new technology and continuous i$prove$ent in operating practices in a syste$atic $anner. The paper covers the strategies adopted, steps ta&en and changes $ade over a period of three years in operations in order to i$prove the 'uality of C.C. rods. (rastically i$proved cathode 'uality has also played a $a)or role in enhancing the 'uality of rods and have %een a%le to $eet the 'uality re'uire$ents of highly de$anding $ulti*wire drawing custo$ers in a %ig way. The )ourney of 'uality i$prove$ent has also resulted in reduction of cost of production and decrease in down ti$e. The propane consu$ption per Mt has %een drastically reduced %y 2+ ,-fro$ .+ &g Mt to /. 0g Mt1. The casting wheel life has %een increased %y $ore than /"" , -fro$ /+"" Mt wheel to 1+""" Mt wheel1. Changes in casting para$eters including fre'uent wheel cleaning, use of %etter 'uality of water for cooling, have resulted in increase in life of casting wheel. Several innovative practices li&e filtration of $olten $etal in tundish, changes in solu%le oil syste$ purification and auto$ation of flow control during casting, co$$issioning of (efecto$at and tightening of operating para$eters have resulted in i$prove$ent in 'uality. The i$prove$ent in rod 'uality as is evident %y reduction in wire %rea&s fre'uency fro$ 1.. %rea&s Mt to ".12 %rea&s Mt. The downti$e for daily $aintenance has %een %rought down fro$ 2 hr day to 1.+ hr day.

Intr%d(ct$%nThe copper unit of Sterlite produces continuous cast copper wire rods at Silvassa, India. The present cu$ulative capacity of plants is 1,+",""" MT2. 2t Sterlite several i$prove$ents has %een done and i$ple$ented to %ring down the operating cost without sacrificing the 'uality. This was achieved through various tools li&e T3M. This has helped us to contain the co$petition. Th# Pr%c#'' Copper rods are %eing produced in continuous $elting , casting , and rolling operations. Sterlite has 2S24C# shaft furnace for the $elting of copper cathodes. 5or casting and rolling, Sterlite has Italian Continuuos Properzi technology. In order to $eet the re'uire$ent of different $ar&et seg$ents Sterlite produces three different sizes of rods i.e. 6."" $$, 11..2 $$ and 12..+ $$. Copper cathodes which are $elted in shaft furnace to $a&e rods are produced at Sterlite7s own 8lectrolytic 4efinery which is situated in the sa$e pre$ises at Silvassa. Shaft furnace utilizes 9P: Propane as fuel. Molten $etal is transferred to the holding furnace, which acts as %uffer and provides a constant flow of $olten copper to casting $achine through tundish. Melting, holding and transfer of copper is done in controlled at$osphere achieved %y controlling of C# , -car%on $ono o;ide1 at all the %urners using 9P: or Propane as fuel. Molten copper is poured in one end of trapezoid shaped casting wheel < %and cavity through a pouring spout at a desired flow rate of 12 Mt hr. Molten copper gets solidified in the casting wheel and the solidified cast %ar is e;tracted fro$ the other end. !ot cast %ar - 6+" "C1 is dressed and guided to Continuus Properzi rolling $ill. The cast %ar is rolled in predeter$ined se'uences at different rolling stands. Typical three*roll configuration of Properzi $ill %rea&s the cast structure totally and i$parts %etter $etallurgical properties in copper stoc& during rolling. =ew unifor$ly refined grains develop in the %ar stoc& during hot rolling. 4od co$ing out of the finishing stand is su%)ected to alcohol pic&ling. 5inally the rod is 'uenched, whipped and wa;ed %efore coiling. Coils are co$pressed strapped and stretch wrapped to protect fro$ at$ospheric tarnishing. >esides online flaw detection, rods undergo several 'uality chec&s to ensure che$ical, $echanical and $etallurgical properties. The endeavor is to facilitate custo$ers, e;cellent drawa%ility to finer sizes. Continuous i$prove$ent is a ha%it at Sterlite. 8$phasis is on tea$ wor& and efforts are always on to achieve lowest cost and to ensure %est 'uality. Several pro)ects have %een carried out in the past and several are on, to achieve the targets. 2 su$$ary discussion of so$e of the$ follows.

Th# C%))#r Cath%d# The 'uality of raw $aterial always is the single larger para$eter which has the greatest i$pact on process and product 'uality. 2t Sterlite $elting furnace charge co$prises of copper cathodes essentially confor$ing to 2STM > 11+*?+ or other si$ilar standard. Plant reverts li&e crop %ars, process re)ected coils are also charged in the furnace along with the cathodes. Copper cathodes are produced at Sterlite7s own refinery. Che$istry is one of the i$portant factors, which plays a vital role in producing good 'uality rods. 8le$ents li&e >i, Se, Te, S etc. are having significant effect on the properties and perfor$ance of the rods. Se and Te ,the $ost har$ful of these ele$ents can significantly decrease electrical conductivity, increase the $echanical strength of the annealed wire, retard recrystallization, @ >i if %eyond the specified li$it induces hot shortness during the hot rolling process in the production of the CC 4od. Sulphur results in the for$ation of S#2 %u%%les in the cast %ar and su%se'uently results in wire %rea&s during wire drawing. Sulphur a%ove 2.+ PPM starts showing its effect on Spiral 8longation =u$%er. Ae at Sterlite have o%served direct relationship %etween the sulphur content in the cathode and the average values of spiral elongation nu$%er. 8nhanced detection capacity and regular cross chec& of results with internationally reputed la%oratories, assures che$ical co$position of cathodes and rods. The rods produced fro$ each %atch of cathodes are su%)ected to S8= - Spiral 8longation =u$%er 1 test. 8fforts at tan& house to reduce i$purity level in cathodes have helped to $aintain a high average of S8= value $ore than ..". Bp*gradation of analysis facilities and i$prove$ents carried out at refinery resulted in the consistency in che$ical co$position of copper cathodes. 2part fro$ che$ical co$position physical appearance and cleanliness of cathode plates have also ta&en care of. Cisual inspection practices and washing of cathode with the help of high pressure water )et ensures clean and dirt free cathodes which are al$ost free fro$ any nodule to the $elting furnace. This in*turn ensures supply of 'uality copper $elt to the casting line with $ini$u$ slag generation. M#lt$n! and m%lt#n m#tal handl$n! Melting of cathodes is carried out in 2S24C# $a&e shaft furnace. Molten copper is transported to holding furnace and then to tundish for casting through launders. >eside concern for productivity and fuel consu$ption which affects cost of production, gas pic&up, refractory erosion and slag conta$ination are so$e of the pro%le$ nor$ally associated with copper $elting, holding and transport, which has a greater i$pact on rod 'uality and its perfor$ance during $anufacturing of downstrea$ products.

Tea$ efforts of various &inds have evolved solutions to increase productivity virtually to opti$u$ level and to ensure desired 'uality of $olten $etal. The initial launders e$ployed 2lu$ina refractories, which resulted in occurrences of refractory inclusion in rods hence wire %rea&s at custo$ers7 end. 9ining of the furnace since inception was $ade of silicon car%ide refractory which offers e;cellent erosion resistance. Ae after analysis decided to change the launder refractory which was replaced %y silicon car%ide. >esides, design of the launder and %ric&s were also changed to $ini$ise the fla$e i$pinge$ent on $olten copper and fla$e erosion of refractory. 4e*designing of slag s&i$$ing pot location and itDs design change has further resulted in supply of clean $elt to tundish. Initial installation cost of the changed refractory was high %ut it gave advantages of increased life of lining there %y reduced shutdowns and increased productivity of plant with added %enefit of inclusion free rods. Introduction and in*house standardization of $etallographic test of tundish %utton sa$ple, with a $icroscope e'uipped with an i$age analyser helps in identifying any slip in the $olten $etal operating syste$. The $ain contri%utor in cost of conversion of cathodes to rods is fuel. The fuel used at CC 4od plant is 9P: or Propane The 5uel efficiency of $elting furnace plays the i$portant role. 9i'uid petroleu$ gas or Propane is used as fuel in shaft furnace, holding furnace and launders. It gives sufficient heat input to prevent the freezing of $etal at the sa$e ti$e provides controlled at$osphere to protect the $olten $etal fro$ gas pic&*up and o;idation. 5uel efficiency of the co$%ustion syste$ is governed %y the effective control of car%on $ono o;ide percentage in the co$%ustion gases. This high percentage of car%on $ono o;ide in the co$%ustion syste$ has two fold effects, 1. 2. The increase in fuel consu$ption Increase in concentration of the gases dissolved in the $olten $etal.

Ahereas the first one increases cost of conversion the second has an i$pact on the 'uality of product, as $olten copper has strong affinity towards hydrogen. 5la$e length increases %ecause of the high concentration of C# results in i$proper co$%ustion and there are chances of gas pic&up in $olten copper which ulti$ately result in porosity in copper rods and results in wire %rea&s at the ti$e of $anufacturing of downstrea$ products. (uring the year of 2""" the gas consu$ption was around .+ 0g Mt of copper $elted. 5uel cost was high at the sa$e ti$e the pro%le$ of porosity in the wire %rea& $ade it i$perative to loo& in to the shaft furnace operation. The tas& force conducted several studies to follow the heat %alance of the furnace. Carious studies of 8nergy Conservation Tea$ and 3uality I$prove$ent :roups highlighted tht car%on $ono o;ide sa$pling, $easure$ent and control, as the $a)or area

for i$prove$ent. The points of sa$pling were increased and the process was auto$ated. The design of launders were also changed. The height of shaft furnace stac& was increased. Aith the help of nozzle $i; %urners and controlling of Car%on Mono #;ide through $odified P9C syste$ in individual %urner the fuel efficiency increased and the gas consu$ption is %rought down to /E 0g $t of copper $elted.
A verage Fuel Gas C onsum ption per y ear
44 42.63 42

40

Kg / Mt

38 36.73 36 35.87

34

32 YEAR 99-00 YEAR 00-01 YEAR 01-02

5urther fine tuning of controls of car%on $ono o;ide, through co$plete auto$ation of its sa$pling, $easure$ent and control ad)ust$ents, helped achieving reduced fuel consu$ption. Car%on $ono;ide percentage was %rought down to an average of ".+ , fro$ 2.+,. Thus the consu$ption was further reduced for$ the level of /E 0g MT to /.0g MT of CC rods produced. (uring $anufacturing of 8TP copper it is re'uired to $aintain a slight positive trend of o;ygen content in $etal fro$ shaft furnace to tundish with a precise control of at$osphere. 2uto$ation of the syste$ eli$inates the possi%ility of localized reducing at$osphere fro$ where the hydrogen gas $ay get entrapped in the li'uid $etal. The o;ygen trend $aintained gradually positive fro$ shaft furnace to tundish, which helped in $ini$ising the chances of gas pic&up in $olten copper. This para$eter is cha&ed at various points %y collecting sa$ples at various locations and analysing using 98C# o;ygen analyser. Increase of shaft furnace stac& height for utilisation of waste heat in preheating of charge and change in launder di$ensions also assisted in lowering the fuel consu$ption.. Modified design of slag s&i$$ing pot helped in reduction of slag inclusions in copper and introduction of cera$ic foa$ filter eli$inated any re$ote possi%ility of inclusion entrap$ent in the $olten copper.

Ca't$n! Properzi is the originator of wheel and %elt casting syste$. Casting syste$ uses trapezoidal grooved wheel and a steel %elt which for$s a end less $ould cavity to produce a continuous cast %ar. 2 continuous layer of soot is applied on the walls of wheel and %elt %y %urning of acetylene. This soot acts as $ould releasing agent and prevents direct contact of $olten copper and wheel. 9ot of wor& is done on the pyrolysis of acetylene at SII9. Introduction of o;ygen in acetylene helped in unifor$ coating of soot layer and $aintaining the te$perature of casting wheel, which results in sound casting and unifor$ colu$nar growth through out the cross section of the %ar. Continuous casting operation re'uires a constant la$inar flow of $olten $etal in $ould. 2t ti$es $anual regulation of $olten copper were resulting in non*unifor$ and tur%ulent flow. >y the installation of new auto flow regulator syste$ constant la$inar flow in the casting wheel is ensured which eli$inated the possi%ility of air entrap$ent during casting. Th operator watches the flow strea$ regularly and ta&es correcive action to ensure that it is s$ooth. Close control of casting cooling para$eters and regular $onitoring of water 'uality resulted in increase in casting wheel life %y +"" , i.e fro$ .""" $t copper production to 2"""" $t copper production. #thers steps li&e %etter control while fi;ing the wheel, %ufing of wheel in %etween casting and re$oval of scale fro$ water side of the casting wheel have also helped. Bar Pr#)arat$%n Un$t (uring casting slightest overflow results in s$all protrusion in the hot cast %ar. These protrusions or fins which are highly o;idised, if enters in the rolling $ill and gets rolled along with the %ar result in a overfill type defect and the rod fails at the custo$ers during cold drawing. To overco$e this pro%le$ the top edges of the trapezoidal cast %ar are tri$$ed. Since inception steel %rushes were provided after the edge tri$$ing unit to re$ove any surface inclusion. These %rushes continuously cleaning the %ar %efore it enters in the rolling $ill. (espite of the presence of ferro detector Sterlite used to receive co$plaints of wire %rea&s fro$ their custo$ers. 2fter analysis of the %rea& sa$ples it was o%served that $ost of the sa$ples showed presence of steel particles. Such type of sa$ples collected and analysed on 8PM2 and 8(2F . 2t the sa$e ti$e all steels which were directly co$ing in contact with copper also analysed. 2l$ost all the wire %rea& -sa$ple containing steel inclusion1 test results confir$ed the analysis of cast %ar %rushes. In order to overco$e the wire %rea& pro%le$ due to ferrous inclusion the %rushes are replaced %y a high*pressure )et, which cleans the cast %ar %efore it enter in the rolling $ill. 2s a result of this study the nu$%er of co$plaints have %een reduced down to al$ost zero level. R%ll$n! M$ll

Average IPA consumption


4.1 4 3.9 3.8 3.7 Kg /Mt3.6 3.5 3.4 3.3 3.2 3.1 YEAR 99-00 YEAR 00-01 YEAR 01-02 3.46 3.88 4.04

Sterlite has Continuus Properzi technology for the rolling of hot cast %ar. Sterlite Properzi $ill contains 11 -eleven1 stands. 5irst three stands are roughing $ills in which the rolling profile is circular rest eight stands have alternate triangular and circle profile. Three configuration rolls the %ar fro$ three sides at 12" " angle. The portion which gets rolled in the stand is &nown as tangent and the unrolled portion is called witness. In the ne;t pass the witness portion gets rolled and so on. This triangle*circle rolling destroys the cast structure co$pletely and a new unifor$ grain structure is for$ed. In past ,Sterlite used to receive co$plaints of wire %rea&, %esides ferrous inclusions so$e %rea& showed the presence of o;ide stringers. In order to eli$inate the pro%le$ of o;ide to get rolled in a through study was conducted and very high pressure )ets were applied on %ar as well as on rolls to re$ove the residual layer of o;ides on the rolls and %ars. This develop$ent helped in not only in reduction in wire %rea&s %ut also the residual surface o;ide layer is also reduced fro$ 1+"" 2 " to less than /"" 2 ". Bse of sand %lasted rolls in first three roughing $ills and co*current 'uenching -with alcohol1 of hot rod also helped a lot in reducing the surface o;ide layer. . Considera%le attention was given to the solu%le oil filtration syste$. 2 hydro*cyclone %efore the !off$an 5ilter helped in reducing the load on the filter and seggergating the heavy particles fro$ fine perticles. This also drastically $ini$ised the suspended copper fines in the syste$. Bp*gradation of solu%le oil filtration syste$ helped us in two fold 1. 2. (ust for$ation during the drawing of rods is $ini$ised. 4oll life was increased

P$c&l$n! and .a/$n! 2t Sterlite %esides nor$al twist test, we regualrly carry out scotch tape test ato detect any rolled in o;ide. To so$e e;tent we have %een a%le to identify causes for high dust generation at custo$er7s wor&s. Ae regularly collect dust fro$ the custo$er and identify the causes %y $icroscopic analysis. Since we &eep archives of our rods on a lot to lot %aisis till the rod is used %y the custo$er, a correlation has %een $ade possi%le.

Aith steps ta&en on the %asis ofcusto$er feed %ac& we have %een a%le to sole irritants which cause pro%le$s at custo$er7s wor&s. !ot rolled rod when co$es out the rolling $ill i$$ediately is su%)ected to alcohol pic&ling and 'uenching in order to reduce the copper o;ide in copper. Ahen the rod co$es out of the 'uenching solution its te$perature re$ains a%out G" oC. this rod passes through air drier and the$ a water solu%le wa; is applied on the rod continuously to prevent its surface fro$ at$ospheric tarnishing. Aith proper ad)ust$ent of 2lcohol Pic&ling syste$ we were a%le to get a surface o;ide value of less than /+" H . In recent past so$e of the ena$eled wire $anufacturer o%served that there is a change in shade of the wire after drawing 6 $$ rods. In the sa$e drawing conditions so$e rods showed %right copper colour and so$e showed slight dull or dar& colour after drawing. It was a $ystery as there was no alteration in drawing para$eters and different rods were giving different shades. 2 detailed study was carried out and the pro%le$ was crac&ed %y identifying the root cause of the pro%le$. It was the wa; co$pound which contained azole group. Ahen the , of this wa; increased %y $ore than 2.+ , it was for$ing a soap type residue which was showing the difference in shade. The pro%le$ is resolved and now there is no shade change is o%served in drawn copper. P%0#r *El#ctr$cal #n#r!1+ Continuous efforts on power saving resulted in reduction of power cost re'uired per Mt of copper. Installation of fre'uency drives on pu$ps, i$peller tri$$ing of pu$ps helped in reduction of power cost tre$endously.

Power Consumption
90

83.85

80

70

69.82

66.51

KWH per mt.copper produced

60

50

40

30

20

10

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

CONCLUSION Ae at Sterlite with tea$ wor& and %rains stro$ing have %een a%le to i$prove productivity, reduce costs and i$prove 'uality. Custo$er is the focus for all our efforts and the e$phasis is to ensure that all his re'uir$ents are $et or e;ceeded. Ae have learnt through interaction with our custo$ers and have found that 'uality led i$prove$ents auto$atically %ring in reduction in cost and i$prove$ent in productivity since the drivers for all thes para$eters for a rod plants are the sa$e. Sterlite is %ri$$ing with the opti$is$ a%out its prospects in the ne;t century. Ahile efforts are on for consistent product 'uality fordo$estic use the industry is conscious of the need for e;ploring @ developing overseas $ar&ets. Ae are fully aware that 'uality and cost leadership is the esence of success. ACKNO.LEDGMENT The 2uthors wish to e;press their deep sense of gratitude to the $anage$ent of Sterlite Copper for giving the support to us with their endeavor to i$prove 'uality of rods to international standards @ the per$ission to present the paper.