The new rolling mill: technology and innovation

by | Apr 14, 2023 | News

A state-of-the-art plant: digitisation, quality, productivity

Length: 500 metres, average height: 6.5 metres. The overhead walkways allow you to walk around the perimeter at a height of twenty metres. From here the new San Zeno Naviglio beam rolling mill clearly shows the power of technology and innovation placed at the service of a large industrial installation. The Duferco TP rolling mill conveys the entrepreneurial courage, the concerted effort of its people, the determination to take on a challenge. The beauty of believing in the future and building it, with sustainability. Because the only possible future of steelmaking (and manufacturing) is sustainable.

Close-up of the re-heating furnace under construction, September 2022

The SBM (Smart Beam Manufacturing) plant has been built in San Zeno Naviglio by Duferco TP together with SMS Group downstream of the steel mill. SBM is the result of a research and development project with a clear objective: to develop and apply innovative technologies to a pilot plant to produce beams that is among the most modern and efficient in the sector, finalizing the verticalization of production at the San Zeno Naviglio site. Specifically, Duferco TP intends to: integrate the new production flow analysing and optimising the entire production process; define and implement state-of-the-art safety systems interconnected with machine automation systems to raise today’s safety standards; optimise the production process and the necessary resources, reducing production waste by supporting operators with advanced systems which through complex logics dynamically identify the best solutions in real time; reduce product waste due to non-conformity of materials with the use of sophisticated fault detection systems that can automatically intercept the problem in line and cut down the time necessary to solve the problem; develop a digital infrastructure that collects, processes and makes available all the information on cloud computing systems, laying the foundations for the development and application of high-level digital tools (Big Data, Business Intelligence, Intelligent Maintenance); reduce the environmental impact and energy need through the development of energy control and recovery systems for heating and rolling as well as minimising atmospheric emissions; expand the product range for new applications with greater added value; reduce production times and costs increasing the competitiveness of each production process.

The SBM rolling mill under construction, Septembre 2022

The rolling mill has a potential production capacity of 1 million tonnes per year, level 2 automation and artificial intelligence for management. It was built by the German SMS Group entrusted with the design and installation of a complete water treatment plant. The Forni Industriali Bendotti reheating furnace runs on gas and hydrogen. The new energy and water management system enables Duferco TP to meet all future environmental requirements. The plant engineer explains that thanks to the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) signed by the company, the plant’s entire energy needs will be covered by renewable sources. “The rolling mill will be equipped with the latest generation CCS® tandem roll stands (Compact Cartridge Stand) – explains SMS – with reinforced guide supports, a new pulpit design and the new TCS plus (automation system) technology control system”. TCS plus will provide Duferco with additional productivity reserves and will minimise hydraulic energy consumption. In addition, the new rolling mill is set up for low-temperature rolling, saving valuable resources. The laser-based PROgauge light profile measuring device, with the SurfTec surface defect detection system by SMS also allows Duferco TP to measure sections in line and detect and analyse surface defects that may occur during the rolling process.

“Water saving and water treatment are two essential factors for the sustainability of a green plant that will help us achieve our production goals while meeting European environmental standards. This is why we have chosen SMS as our partner that will support us on the road to setting a new efficiency standard in Europe” said Antonio Gozzi, President of Duferco Italia Holding.