Brock Solutions' Steel/Metals Industry Automation Overview
The steel/metals industry has been faced with financial challenges due to the increase of costs to inputs (energy, long-term supply contract prices) while at the same time facing increased market competition on supply of product. These challenges have seen consolidation of companies, restructuring of assets, and cost reduction activities for many metals companies. To remain competitive metals manufacturers are striving to understand source of manufacturing costs, and continue to utilize and optimize existing infrastructure while strategically implementing technology projects.
As demand begins to increase companies will need to quickly adapt to respond to the market demands. This will include upgrading existing equipment and automation, applying new technology in key processes, purchasing new equipment, and understanding and acting on real-time operational data to drive efficiency and quality in operations. Companies are also looking at vertical integration to improve visibility to manufacturing, streamline flow of data, and also link disparate data sources via data mining to find trends such as when to schedule maintenance activities within production schedules to minimize downtime. This includes a transition away from custom homegrown solutions to standard off the shelf products.
We Understand This
Our customers look to Brock to help them transform their real-time operations to drive production efficiency, improve quality, and implement best-practice standards. Brock is involved up-front to help answer questions like “How do I improve my existing equipment?”, “Do I need to upgrade my automation landscape?”, "How do I go about implementing the project to ensure zero-downtime?”, "How do I connect my control automation data to ERP systems and data intelligence platforms?”.
From this upfront consultant and guidance role Brock moves to defining the functional requirements; design, testing, implementation, and sustainment. Brock delivers solutions in the automation technology space from shop floor to the top floor ERP systems against a backdrop of continuous improvement and project management methodology. We cover the landscape of metals operations implementing projects in Primary, Secondary, Finishing, and Material Handling.
Brock has implemented solutions in many facets of the metals environment including:
- Blast Furnaces (top-charging, clay guns & drills, turbo blowers, automated systems)
- Steelmaking (BOF, LMF, EAF, alloy addition, continuous casters)
- Hot Strip Mills (reheat furnace and AGC through to Down coilers)
- Plate Mills
- Rod & Bar Mills
- Reduction & Temper Mills
- Pickle Lines, Galvanizing Lines, Annealing Lines, Polishing Lines
- Slitting and Cut-to-Length Lines
- Tube and Forming Mills
- Continuous Paint Lines, Coating Lines
- Cranes (anti-swing/sway/skew): Gantry, Yard, Portal, Grab-Bucket-Style, Ship Unloaders, Straddle-Port
- Ore Bridges
- Conveyor Systems
For our clients this means that we understand their business, operations, safety requirements, continual drive to reduce costs and manufacturing time while maintaining high quality levels. Our mission is to work with our customers to provide guidance, challenge status-quo assumptions, and ensure that what we deliver is driving real business value.
What Makes Us Different
We are one of the few companies that can claim full integration capabilities in the real-time space. Our 400 engineering professionals deliver panel fabrication, automation, Historians, MES, Manufacturing IT, and project management services as a holistic package. We are not a controls company dabbling in MES, or an MES company dabbling in controls – this is our business and has been for 30+ years. We have the size and scale to implement projects and programs, the flexibility to supplement engineering teams through to turnkey implementation of large fixed-price fixed-scope projects, and the project management methodology and detailed planning to cover multi-party coordination and installation management.
Brock Solutions understands the costs and impact of time spent commissioning and optimizing equipment on the production floor. With the metals industry there is a higher focus to implementing solutions that take a “Zero Downtime/Phased-In” approach. Brock’s standard methodology places I/O emulation and simulation as a cornerstone piece to ensure complete testing to the controls and automation system prior to installation, and allow our customers to ‘test drive’ the system during our Factory Acceptance Test and train operators on the bench. This significantly reduces the start-up time on site compared to traditional project approaches. Brock’s zero downtime approach has been successfully applied to many metals applications.