You are on page 1of 6


Upgrading rod
and bar mills with
control technology

Benefits of revamping
Operators of profile mills specializing
in long products, such as rods and bars,
are having to cope with a strong increase
in demand for high-quality finished products. At the same time, steel prices are
being kept down by the large-scale
availability of low-grade products. Traditionally, this is the right time to upgrade
plants to meet future market requirements.
The wisdom of revamping a function-

Profile mill control systems can be upgraded to give mill operators the

ing system can always be questioned,

flexibility and capability they need to meet future demand for high-quali-

but there are many reasons for making

ty finished products. The Advant Open Control System, developed by ABB

such an investment. For example, failures

to take full advantage of state-of-the art control technology, allows re-

are more likely to occur in older equip-

vamp kits to be easily integrated in outdated mill processes. Since the

ment. And while most of the electronic

control is adaptive, optimum results are achieved even when the process

equipment which has survived until today

parameters change. Also, when Advant OCS is installed, ABB Interstand

can be considered to be fairly reliable,

Dimension Control (IDC) can be implemented. IDC continuously monitors

the relatively long time between failures

the main bar and rod dimensions for direct control of the roll gap and in-

means that maintenance crews have only

terstand speed. As a result, mill scrap can be halved and stands can be re-

limited trouble-shooting experience with

calibrated for new products much faster. Drive upgrade kits installed in

the equipment. This is important as

the recently revamped Ovako steel mill in Hllefors, Sweden, give the

rolling mills depend more on the specific

mills owner a competitive edge in the fiercely contested rolled products

skills of maintenance crews than on


organizations. Two other concerns of

profile mill operators with older control

systems are the availability and cost of

lder generations of mill control sys-

Advant Open Control System (OCS), for

spares. A minor fault can result in unnec-

tems were never designed to meet

example, was developed to take full ad-

essarily long and costly downtime.

todays rigorous demands on product

vantage of state-of-the-art ABB control

Older equipment based on analogue

uniformity, quality, productivity and trace-

technology. With Advant OCS, revamp

technology requires a large number of

ability. Even the earliest digital control

kits for drive systems can be easily inte-

adjustments for efficient and profitable

systems do not have the necessary ca-

grated in older processes to ensure that

mill operation. While this has the ad-

pability; based on first-generation micro-

they meet the highest requirements. Fur-

vantage that it makes the engineers

processors with limited memory and

thermore, it facilitates the installation of

familiar with the equipment, it comes at

computing capacity (which may also

Interstand Dimension Control (IDC) in

the expense of additional maintenance

make them susceptible to the millennium

profile mills.

staff. Also, it is difficult to recruit new

bug), they have to be optimized for their

engineers to work with outdated equip-

specific tasks. Such systems were de-


signed and built to work under narrowly

There are also differences in the

defined conditions, and lack the function-

demands made by todays and to-

al versatility needed to respond quickly

morrows processes that have to be

and accurately to new situations.

considered. In the past, operators used

ABB offers advanced control systems

which have all the capability required to
handle even changing conditions. The

Dag N. Sollander

pushbuttons and potentiometers to con-

ABB Automation Systems AB

trol the mill, and the feedback from the

process was shown on numerical dis-

ABB Review 4/1999

Typical control desk in a profile

mill. Pushbuttons and potentiometers dominate the scene.

State-of-the-art control room. The operator, who works in a Windows

environment, supervises the process on-line.

plays 1 . Supervision of the actual rolling

new level of flexibility and depth of in-

and selects functions (eg, logging, analy-

process was basically visual, and relied

formation. Control is adaptive, so that

sis, etc) as he needs them.

on the operators observational abilities.

optimum results are achieved even when

New control systems ( 2 to 4 ) im-

Even the first generations of digital con-

the process parameters vary. In a state-

prove mill performance and safety, en-

trol systems were very restricted in terms

of-the-art mill control room, the role of

sure a higher and more consistent quality

of their flexibility and analytical capability.

the operator is more like that of a process

for the rolled end-products, and increase

Advant OCS and the latest operator

engineer. Working in a Windows environ-


station generations offer a completely

ment, he supervises the process on-line

Revamping in stages
A rationally organized workplace incorporating features that improve
mill performance and safety ensures a consistently higher quality for the
rolled products and increases profitability.

Careful planning is a key factor in revamp

projects. Downtimes have to kept as
short as possible to minimize produc-


Information Management System

tion losses. One solution is to revamp

the control systems in stages, for example:

Overall mill control, either analogue or


Sequential logic, relay systems or programmable logic controllers (PLCs)

Drive systems, mainly DC with analogue speed and current control

In addition, the revamp project can concentrate on one process area at a time, in
Automatic corrections

Reliable control

Process analysis

Process-oriented settings

Plain language information

Integration with IMS

the case of a profile rolling mill starting

with the roughing mill area and then continuing with the intermediate and finishing
mill areas 5 .

ABB Review 4/1999

The area revamp is of special interest

mill at SKFs Ovako steel mill in Hllefors,

steel. Nearly two decades later, although

now that new control packages such as

Sweden. This rolling mill, commissioned

still in good shape, the mill no longer met

the Profile Mill IDC are available 5 .

in 1977, was one of the worlds first


digitally controlled mills and was based

petitiveness specifications. Key issues,

on state-of-the-art technology at the

such as improved mill supervision, auto

Ovako steel mill revamp

time. It was designed to meet demand by

product changeover, manufacturing in-

A typical example of a successful revamp

the parent company for high-quality


carried out in stages is the bar and rod

rolled products made of ball-bearing

easier maintenance, subsequently played

Some of the displays supporting

the operator in decision-making
Top right

Analysis of rolling
with stand overview,
providing operator
with information on
mill configuration,
material tracking,
test sequences, etc

Bottom right

Stand maintenance
schedule informing
maintenance crew
about stand
equipment statuses


Analysis display
showing snapshots
of threading
conditions, torque,
loading, speeds, etc







ABB Review 4/1999

Colour graphics

Operator control and

instruments IM; FM


Existing OS



AC or DC drive systems


Min tension



Auto loop

Existing control system

Revamping a profile mill area by area

RM Roughing mill
IM Intermediate mill


an important role in the decision by the

stalled in 1995, increasing the original

means of remote control. In the following

mill owner to select ABBs new-genera-

rolling capacity from 120 mm to 165 mm

year, the control for the walking beam re-

tion Rolling Mill Control (RMC) system.

square billets. This addition also included

heat furnace was replaced by an ABB

The performance enhancement afforded

the ABB RMC 200 system, one Advant

Reheat Furnace Control (RFC) system to

by IDC was also a key factor leading to

Controller 450 and one Advant Operator

optimize performance and fuel consump-

this decision.

Station from the 500 series. The mill is

tion. Also, an ABB Automatic Dimension

operated from the existing pulpit by

Control (ADC) system was added to

A new 3-stand roughing mill was in-

Finishing mill
Operator station

RMC Rolling mill control

achieve narrower final tolerances. The

ADC system controls the roll gap of the
New control room at SKFs Ovako steel mill in Hllefors, Sweden

final two or four stands based on feedback from a rotating ORBIS optical
gauge meter.

Controls for the 21st century

In 1997 it was decided to revamp the mill
6 to make it capable of meeting future

demand for consistently high-quality production of low-tolerance rods and bars.

The old control system was based on
DS8, an 8-bit microprocessor system for
control and numerical data presentation,
PLC 700 logic control and TYRAK 73
analogue thyristor converters. The equipment chosen to replace it was the ABB
RMC, DCV 700 digital drive upgrade kits
and IDC.

ABB Review 4/1999

Integrated, solid-state U-gauge sensors create magnetic fields which are distorted to a greater or lesser degree,
depending on the dimensions of the steel bar or rod passing through them.
The IDC system automatically adjusts the set-up of the mill stands and interstand speed on the basis of
the data received from these gauges.

IDC control principle. Continuous supervision and control eliminates the risk of underfill and overfill rolling.


Area in
Area out
Inlet speed
Outlet speed


A in

Reduction factor
Reduction factor increment
Speed increment
Width deviation



A out



x = Width ( W )
y = Height ( H )





x = W idth ( W )
y = Height ( H )

Wact Actual width

Wsch Scheduled width
ypos y-position (height)



Roll wear adjustment

between bars

Roll wear adjustment

between bars

Push supervision

Wdev = Wact Wsch

Rinc = Gain x Wdev

Alarm: downstream guide

W > limit; H > limit

Tail out
v inc = Gain x Wdev

Alarm: downstream guide

W > limit; H > limit

ABB Review 4/1999

Simple installation of RMC

needed. In-line installation of the gauge is

The RMC concept is designed for easy

simple on account of the specially de-

installation and upgrading. Since the new

signed inlet and outlet guides and the

roughing mill was already equipped with

sensor base-plate. No on-site calibration

an Advant Controller 450, the whole mill

is necessary.

could be controlled from the same

processor rack by adding more processor capacity, with the I/O units remotely

First step towards fully

located in the relevant process areas.

automated mills

The revamp was carried out in three

The Interstand Dimension Control system


is the first step on the road towards fully

In the first stage the DS8 and its oper-

automated rolling mills. By integrating the

ator communication were replaced by

data generated by the IDC with other op-

adding software to the Advant OS for the

erational information and then linking it

roughing mill. The second stage involved

into a mill-wide process control system,

such as the ABB Advant system, steel

revamping the analogue thyristor converters with digital control. By retaining

the power supply and thyristor modules,
it was possible to restrict the revamp

The new controller is quickly

connected, using existing process
cabling, by bus communication
to the Advant Controller.

mills could become self-monitoring and

self-correcting. IDC improves mill performance in accordance with owners requirements without having to modify the

work to replacement of the control sys-

mechanical equipment 9 .

tems, protection and field converters. All

the components were mounted on a

losophy of maintaining a low, constant

panel and pre-tested prior to fitting in the

tension along the bar/rod. This approach

control cabinet door.

generally works well, but does not allow

Short pay-back time

In the third stage the old PLC logic

for the adjustments needed to compen-

Although the cost of the electrical equip-

control was replaced by the Advant RMC.

sate for the deviations created by the

ment amounts to only a small fraction of

The existing PLC circuits were located in

temperature and dimensional variations

the total investment in a modern, highly

one cabinet with all process cabling ter-

along the bar/rod. In addition, there are

automated rod and bar mill, the correct

minated in an adjacent cabinet. This ca-

certain shortcomings due to the lack of

choice of systems helps to determine a

bling was retained and wired to the new

on-line feedback from process para-

mills overall performance and profitabili-

ABB S800 remote I/Os with bus commu-

meters, such as material dimensions and

ty. It is estimated that the increase in pro-

nication to the Advant Controller.

the speed. Rugged U-gauge solid-state

ductivity, plant yield and availability made

This upgrade laid the foundation for

sensors 7 , which are insensitive to the

possible by IDC will allow the cost of the

the installation of the Interstand Dimen-

harsh conditions in mills, are required to

investment to be paid back in most cases

sional Control (IDC) system, which brings

provide accurate on-line information

within one year.

a whole a new concept to rod and bar mill

about the bar dimensions. Measurement


data from these sensors are fed into the

control system and used to control the
bar dimensions by adjusting the inter-

Interstand Dimension Control

stand speed 8 . IDC also ensures maxi-


U-gauge sensors provide bar

mum roll utilization, thereby increasing

Dag N. Sollander

data on-line

the mill capacity, as the material width is

ABB Automation Systems AB

A key element of control engineering is

continuously supervised and controlled.

S-721 67 Vsters

the accurate, rapid feedback of dimen-

This eliminates risks of under- and overfill


sional data and effective, continuous

rolling. The U-gauge measurement prin-

Telefax: +46 21 41 25 95

control of the mill stands. In the past, all

ciple allows a wide measuring range, so


control methods were based on the phi-

that only a few different gauge sizes are

ABB Review 4/1999