Full control of ArcelorMittal’s steelmaking process

“PANalytical has been a perfect partner for this project. Their purposeful approach and their collegiality have made our cooperation not only pleasant but highly effective. Together we have found the best solutions for any upcoming question and have ended up with this unique turn-key lab which fully meets our expectations.”

Birgit Tenckhoff, lab manager at ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal Duisburg, situated in Duisburg (Germany), converts raw iron into high-quality long-carbon steel products for a large variety of applications. With about 1000 employees the steel plant runs 24/7, processing more than 1.15 million tons of raw steel per year. At the end of 2013 PANalytical delivered a new and fully automated laboratory for all steel analyses within the plant. This lab has successfully been up and running continuously since March 2014.

The properties of any steel are defined by the concentrations of iron, sulfur, carbon and various additives. It is crucial to determine the elemental concentrations to a very high precision. By analyzing these concentrations at the start of the production process and at intermediate steps, it is possible to steer the production process in the most cost-effective and efficient way. After 20 years of continuous and successful operation inside the production hall, ArceloMittal’s existing PANalytical lab was ready to be replaced by a new one which now complies with the latest requirements.

In order to avoid any interruptions of the continuous operation, two completely redundant laboratories have been created. They are cell-structured for optimal versatility, with automatic re-routing of samples when units in the primary lab are serviced or not available. The lab is now ready to process up to 500 samples per day. A few months of extensive testing have resulted in full confidence and successful commissioning of this unique new lab.

A team consisting of PANalytical specialists, together with ArcelorMittal lab crew designed a fully automated turn-key lab. For this an entire new building was set up at the side of the production hall and was connected via seven air tube lines to two factories. All incoming raw iron, slag and steel samples are treated fully automatically: they are unpacked, cooled, milled and the surface is inspected. Subsequently chips are produced and collected for combustion-based analysis. Samples are then analyzed by a PANalytical Axios FAST X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and/or an OBLF QSG 750-II optical emission spectrometer and finally screened for gamma-radiation. Data collection and storage, reporting and communications between all analyzers run via PANalytical’s SPARCS LIMS system, which also communicates with the Level 2 production control system in the factory.