Over the life of a mill, many changes take place that can compromise mill efficiency and final product quality. Smaller lots, more changeovers between products, rapid addition of new products with stringent quality standards, all can have a negative impact on your mill.
No two rolling mills have the same operational challenges. Often customers are facing a blend of many complex factors. Russula collaborates jointly with the operations and maintenance team to propose a feasible path forward to improve the mill efficiency and product quality. Solutions are customized to how the plant operates. With an optimized operational philosophy and improving inefficiencies, mills will experience less downtime when performing size changes, more operational stability and tolerance while rolling the entire billet and quicker startup time with trial billets; all factors together contribute to increasing operational efficiency.
The last and final phase of the project consisted of implementing the improvement plan. Once the pass design and the guide study were completed, both documents were supplied to the mill team to complete the preparation work required for the startup. All modifications to the existing guide rolls and inserts were included in this phase. For the overwhelming majority of products, the startup went well, but a number of difficulties were faced while rolling the multi-slit, high-speed products.
On-site, the Russula team together with the mill team identified problematic equipment in the finishing mill. The customer requested Russula to custom engineer and supply all new guides and associated equipment for several key positions of the finishing mill. The equipment was fully machined from stainless steel and 100% made in the USA to reduce the delivery time by eliminating the usual casting requirement for bodies and inserts.
While waiting for the equipment supply, Russula worked with the customer to engineer solutions to the in-field equipment; from shear troughs, looper components, transition troughs to the existing guides themselves. An entire guide and stand preparation process was established as well, which significantly helped adjust the mill to the design requirements, making the startups much more efficient.
Roughly six months later, Russula supplied new guides and set up tools which were 100% manufactured in the U.S.A., fully machined from stainless steel. An entire guide and stand preparation process was established as well, which helped significantly to adjust the mill according to the design requirements, streamlining the startups.
Once the new guides and set up tools were shipped and installed in the mill, the production has taken off. The set up and alignment tools designed by Russula allowed the customer to eliminate the “by eye” setup of the equipment. Having tools to set up the guides, bases, and rest bars was a major factor in a smooth and efficient start up.
At the completion of the project, the mill operations team was able to easily calculate speeds, make efficient product changeovers and reduce the downtime. The production schedule was optimized to minimize changes and to take advantage of the maximum tonnage rate. From the beginning of the project to the end, a clear focus on rolling fundamentals was essential to ensure the right operational improvements were discussed and the right changes were made to boost overall operational efficiency.
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