Productivity Optimization | Roll Management System

After spending a couple of decades working extensively within the steel industry, Automation Software & Engineering (AS&E) saw the opportunity to develop a Roll Shop Management System that would achieve significant productivity optimization for our customers, allowing them to run their operations in a more productive and efficient manner. The end result is RMSTrax.

The need for this type of advanced management system was clear, since rolls are the single largest consumable item in rolling mills, and a typical mill spends several million dollars every year on rolls that are consumed during the manufacturing process. The RMS system provides the details necessary to evaluate the best performing rolls in order to determine which vendor’s rolls are providing the least cost per ton of steel rolled.

Additionally, the RMS system tracks the available roll stock inventory, allowing shop management to know when new rolls should be ordered, maximizing cash flow by minimizing the roll inventory.

RMSTrax is a full-featured Roll Shop Management System custom configured to the customer’s specific business logic and process flow. RMSTrax is designed to work within the customer’s existing operational processes and terminology, thereby minimizing the learning curve and accelerating the acceptance period.

RMSTrax provides the tools and integration capabilities with grinders, process control computers, business and OSP systems required to boost productivity optimization and effectively and efficiently manage and control costs within a modern roll shop. When essential detailed data are acquired and properly maintained, accurate value based roll performance decisions are achievable. Adding optional mobile RFID scanners provides instant access to critical RMS details and functionality.

Reporting Features

RMSTrax reports provide historical and current views of the roll shop operation and financial status. The reports are delivered from within the RMSTrax application or via web reports directly from Internet Explorer. The reports are also user schedulable to be delivered via email at a specified frequency. From the web browser, the report data are exportable to Excel or a PDF document for analysis or distribution to further increase productivity optimization. The standard reports include:

  • Financial analysis:
    • Cost of roll usage per ton rolled
    • Total reduction
    • Cost per millimeter of reduction
    • Scrapped roll report
  • Roll and chock campaign details:
    • Start and end date and time of campaign
    • Total tonnage
    • Kilometers rolled
  • Grind analysis reports:
    • Productivity per shift
    • Grinds by grinder and operator
    • OSP performance
    • Reduction analysis by grinder, operator, roll vendor, OSP
  • Inventory analysis:
    • Current status of all rolls and chocks
    • Desired minimum quantities by status, stand, roll type
    • Available inventory by diameter range groups for each stand
  • Supplier performance:
    • Compare performance by
      • Roll type
      • Total stock removed
      • Average reduction
      • Cost per grind
      • Tons rolled
      • Defects
      • Grinding wheels

Tracking Features

RMSTrax is configurable to capture reconditioning, maintenance and usage records for all types of rolls (e.g. work rolls, backups, edger, pinch rolls and others), chocks, bearings and other components. Information is captured through:

  • Automated direct link to the grinder
  • Electronic data transfer from an OSP
  • Manually input (internal or by an OSP)
  • Integration with process automation and/or business systems

Complete integration with process automation systems provides an important step toward productivity optimization by eliminating manual entries of roll dimensions. When possible, all data are automatically exchanged electronically ensuring accurate characteristics are utilized when setting up the mill and recording actual usage.

The life cycle tracking of a roll or component includes tracking various status changes as the roll proceeds through the process of reconditioning, build-up, in mill, dirty and possibly out for repair. User screens and reports are available to view / modify the roll in each status. This feature provides important functionality to manage the Roll Shop inventory and delivery dates of new rolls on order.

Mobile RMSTrax is a fully integrated wireless solution that functions on a handheld RFID scanner. Using RFID tags mounted on the rolls and chocks improves the accuracy of roll and chock identification as the inventory moves through the roll shop and to the mill.

The handheld units provide instant access to roll and chock inventory details using a touch screen or by scanning an RFID tag. Roll grind, build-up, tear-down and insert / remove from mill functions can be performed using the mobile unit.

Data Analysis

Campaign data are saved for each cycle a roll completes through the mill. The correlation of this data along with quality, grind, profile, crack and bruise information provides the necessary parameters to develop roll performance or roll generated defect analysis to help the shop achieve productivity optimization.

Detailed grind information, measured and recorded by the grinders, is also captured and saved indefinitely for historical review or analysis of the grinding process or roll performance.

All data are exportable for further correlations or studies through the standard reporting tool or through user developed custom queries.

AS&E has helped customers in a wide variety of markets reach productivity optimization. Contact us now to learn what we can do for you.

Machine Vision Systems- The Importance of Lighting

Machine vision systems are critical components of quality control processes throughout manufacturing. They provide crucial inspections and measurements that must be both accurate and repeatable. Environmental variables will affect the performance of the imaging system. Frequently overlooked is the importance of having consistent lighting within the system.

Machine vision systems do not assess the object itself but rather the image of the object. Therefore it is imperative to get the correct lighting arrangement for the application. This will allow the camera to capture all image details necessary to make accurate measurements. Information that is completely missing from the image can never be recovered by analysis algorithms. The image is influenced surface characteristics, the wavelength of the light and the direction of the light. A number of lighting configurations including back lighting, bright field or dark field illumination and the use of diffuse and dome illumination have been developed to solve these challenges. However, getting the correct illumination configuration is only the initial part of the solution. Ensuring that the lighting remains consistent over time is essential to making repeatable measurements.

Lighting can gradually be impacted by a number of factors such as:

  • The age of the light
  • The temperature of the light
  • The stability of the power supply
  • Changes in ambient light
  • Synchronization of pulsed lighting and camera exposure
  • Physical position of the light

A properly functioning vision system depends on cameras, lights and analysis algorithms all working at peak efficiency. Machine Vision Systems must be maintained and should be “tuned up” on a regular basis. If your system is not performing as it used to or as you require, protect your investment and improve quality control by contacting AS&E to schedule a service call.