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Wireless can help improve the safety of a plant as workers at Ternium Siderar’s steelmaking facility in San Nicolás, Argentina, can attest.
The self-organizing wireless network delivers electromotive force (EMF) data directly to a plant SCADA system despite conditions that include temperatures as high as 60° Celsius and high electromagnetic noise. The EMF measurements enable Ternium to calculate the amount of pig iron in the hearth, enabling smoother and safer furnace operations.
“We’ve improved furnace energy efficiency, process stability, and safety,” said Esteban Pagliero, Ternium Siderar electronic engineer. “Knowing the EMF enables calculation of the amount of iron and slag inside the hearth, enabling the improved operations. This allows us to avoid raising the operation level by too much which considerably increases the risk of serious accidents.”[private]
Transmitters, supplied by Emerson’s Rosemount, collect and send data from electrodes soldered near tapholes onto the hearth’s shell. The devices transmit continuous data to a wireless gateway, located 50 meters away in another room, which sends the information to the facility’s SCADA.
Ternium also uses predictive maintenance software to manage the new devices, which enables technicians to configure them, run diagnostic checks, and monitor alarms and alerts.
The wireless solution saved Ternium startup time and money. The company would have had to install a wired solution during multiple routine maintenance stoppages of its furnace, which occur every two months. Wires were also impractical because of the high temperatures in the steel runner and the network layout needed.
“Smart Wireless decreased our installation costs and time considerably,” said Pagliero. “We gained a 50% installed cost savings with the wireless solution.”
Wireless also made it much easier and quicker for Ternium to relocate electrodes on the hearth to detect the best possible EMF signal.
“Wireless technology provided us with the ability to easily move the transmitters whenever we needed to move the electrodes. It would have taken months to do so with a wired network,” Pagliero said. “The entire installation would have taken six months in all. Installation and start-up with wireless, including finding the optimal location for the process measurement, was completed in seven days.”[/private]

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