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Metallurgy company’s harsh environment no match for strong wireless radios

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Metallurgy company’s harsh environment no match for strong wireless radios

The metallurgical plant in Ukraine is busy, to say the least. Key parts of the operation are constantly on the move: The raw materials being conveyed in scale cars require quite a bit of monitoring. From carried weight to location, the networking required in this part of the operation is critical. 

A control cabinet in each scale car’s cabin contains a PanelView™ Plus terminal and a CompactLogix™ controller. The PanelView Plus displays the blast furnace foreman’s tasklist and diagnostics including location, weight and materials in the hopper, and more. The CompactLogix is responsible for processing diagnostic data from the scale car’s devices. RFID tags on each material distribution bunker in the plant help locate each scale car. Data is sent to the Rockwell Automation® SCADA system at the blast furnace foreman’s spot, where it helps the employee monitor the operation. 

These processes help ensure that the raw materials each scale car holds are accurate and on their way to the right locations. A strong wireless network is key.
That’s where the plant needed some assistance. Under the previous communications setup, data was sometimes lost, and the range was limited. The company needed a reliable, secure wireless setup that could withstand the very harsh environment of a metallurgy plant. 

The company reached out to system integrator Azov Controls, which suggested wireless solutions from ProSoft Technology based on its previous experience. In this application, ProSoft’s Industrial Hotspot radios would be used as repeaters on four cars with two more radios placed separately within the facility. The radios helped facilitate communications between the control room and the scale cars. Temperature, dust, and vibrations all create a harsh environment within the facility, and this robust wireless solution is able to withstand the conditions. 

“The Industrial Hotspots provide continuous, reliable, secure communications between the control room and the scale wagons,” said Andrey Kalantarenko of Azov Controls. “The scale wagon operator takes tasks, and the blast furnace master can see how each wagon is working.” 

The new wireless system supports a large range, which was lacking with the previous communications setup. The company found that it saved time configuring the radios, which are handled through a Web browser. They appreciated that integrating the radios into their existing system did not require additional software, which saved time and money. Also, they no longer need to connect a communications cable to the PLC to monitor it as it is now done wirelessly, increasing maintenance flexibility. 

Even better is the fact that this solution offers reliable communications: The Wi-Fi connection stays strong, even in the blast furnace environment of the plant, which has extremely high levels of metal dust. The radios’ repeater mode allows the company to extend Wi-Fi signals to even the most distant cars. 

Strong wireless communications – regardless of environment – have enabled this company to reliably produce metals.  

 

Learn more about ProSoft Technology’s industrial wireless solutions at http://psft.com/CLF