Special Steel Production with PSImetals

Metallurgical Process Control and Optimization at Villares Metals S.A.

As the demands imposed on steel quality become more and more stringent and the cost of raw materials continues to rise, it is now imperative to standardise process control and the optimum use of available resources as far as possible. As one of the largest producers of long products for high alloy special steels in Latin America, and the market leader in all of its core segments, Villares Metals has decided to introduce a new melt shop information system based on PSImetals which fulfills these high demands.

In many steel plants the overall control of metallurgical processes is still done offline and with manual settings. Because the very specific technological process know-how is usually not an integrated part of the MES and process data are not online available, the traceability and reproducibility of the production is not given and the steel quality cannot be met with the required stability. Higher demands on steel quality and increasing costs of raw material require a highly standardized process control and an optimized usage of the available resources. The new "Melt Shop Information System" (MIS) is based on PSImetals and can be used to store the full range of technological process expertise. It also integrates all steel mill planning, control and monitoring functions. The new system was designed, implemented and delivered in close cooperation between Villares Metals and PSI Metals. PSI Metals Germany provided the complex metallurgical and technological planning and optimisation as well as production tracking functionalities of the MIS system. The basic automation and reporting functions were delivered by a Brazilian company.

Realisable potential

To continuously increase the competitiveness the following objectives are linked with the introduction of the MIS:

Quality improvement
The use of preconfigured treatment practices and standardisation of the production process will lead to an improvement in quality not only during production, but also in the manufactured products. Quality control will be carried out throughout production online deviation control of setpoints and actual values, which will enable the setpoint targets to be adapted to the ongoing process, thereby minimising rework. The subsequent evaluation and comparison of setpoint and actual data support the plant engineers to develop new standard treatment practices.

Integrated business processes
PSImetals will provide seamless vertical and horizontal integration of all computer systems, from the shop floor right up to SAP, thus enabling business processes at all levels to work together more smoothly. Better operator guidance will reduce operator workload and faults while increasing throughput rate by computerized support of all melt shop processes.

Realistic planning
Individual, quality-related production paths will improve production sequencing and optimise the sequence of processing steps. The equipment planning considers the availability and contamination of steel ladles and casting equipment.

Reduced costs
All quality and cost-related data will be recorded to enable better traceability and cost calculation. Raw material costs will be reduced by optimized and model supported calculation of charge, alloy and slag former materials under consideration of actual stock situation and availability and production situation. The integration of all connected systems via standardised, configurable interfaces will reduce IT maintenance costs.

Heat planning and scheduling with PSImetals

The daily heat planning will be supported by the PSImetals Planning, PSImetals Production and PSImetals Quality components.

The Heat Production Orders received from SAP are automatically sequenced based on configurable, complex algorithms. The scheduling rules and restrictions consider e.g. allowed grade transitions, equipment contamination and availability. In further step the casting equipment and ladles for the sequenced heats are also planned based on configurable rules. For ladle planning not only the availability but also the actual and future contamination is taken into account.

A station monitor shows the operator all actual production information of a heat in production and guides the operators through the entire production process along the different facilities in the steel making and special steel making plant.

Cost-efficient use of raw materials

The charge-/alloy optimization ensures cost optimized usage of raw material considering the actual stock situation and future evolution as well as quality constraints given by the production order. The calculated raw materials for the individual Heat are reserved on the stock. Based on these reservations a consumption forecast is calculated to trigger the purchase of new material.

"We have been convinced by PSI's strong experience
in the area of ensuring quality in steel making."

Bruno Pessoa
General Melt Shop Manager, Villares Metals

Standardised process expertise

During production, quality control is performed based on production feedback and fully configurable treatment practices. The treatment practices compose the entire technological process know-how, i.e. the production route and process steps, intermediate target analyses, material restrictions and all required rules to derive the setpoints to meet the quality. Calculated setpoints are sent to the automation level for online process control. Also the rules for deviation management are part of the treatment practices to automatically activate rework steps and generate new setpoints in case of deviations between the target and the actual values, e.g. insertion of additional alloying steps in case of deviation of some chemical elements. Also allocation and deallocation of heats to other suitable production orders are supported in case the quality cannot be met. 

Competitive advantages through quality

Bruno Pessoa, General Melt Shop Manager of Villares Metals said "Attaching great importance to quality aspects in production is a main competitive advantage of our company. We selected PSI and PSImetals to improve standardization of the production of each steel grade and to ensure process quality control . We have been convinced by PSI's strong experience in the area of ensuring quality in steel making and their PSImetals solution as well as highly pleased customers."

Production management solutions for the metals industry:
More information about PSImetals

Steel for high-tech aviation industry products
Photo: Böhler Uddeholm

Heinz-Josef Ponten
Director Delivery Division Brussels/Düsseldorf
PSI Metals GmbH
Phone: +49 211 60219-389
Fax: +49 211 60219-240

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Villares Metals S.A.is the largest non-flat highly alloyed special steels producer in Latin America and market leader in all core segments, namely

  • high speed steels,
  • tool steels,
  • stainless steels and valve steels
  • special alloys and forged parts for the highest specifications.

It is an independent Brazilian company within the world market leading and public listed BÖHLER UDDEHOLM AG Group which belongs to the voestalpine AG group.

Villares Metals operates a steel plant in Sumaré, Brazil with Melt Shop, Blooming, Forging, Rolling, Heat Treatment and Finishing for all segments.

The steel mill includes:

  • a conventional melt shop with electric arc furnace, ladle furnace, vacuum treatment, ingot and continuous casting
  • a special melt shop with vacuum induction melting, electroslag remelting and vacuum arc remelting.

This enables Villares Metals to attain the most rigorous quality specifications and their clients demand for highest technology in areas such as aeronautics, automotive, nuclear industry, as well as for medical devices.