Smart System for Wireless Diagnostics of Rolling Mill Equipment Designed at SUSU

A team of SUSU engineers, programmers and mathematicians has created a system for preventing breakdowns and emergency shutdowns of a cold rolling mill at Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK). The new diagnostic technology has already been implemented and launched at the enterprise. The work is relevant to the SUSU strategic project of Intelligent Manufacturing under the Priority 2030 program (Science and Universities national project).

A rolling mill is a large complex of equipment designed to make metal sheets of the required thickness. The breakdown of one of the components of such a unit leads to shutdown of the entire line. Using the new system, enterprise specialists can detect the likelihood of a breakdown of some “organ” of the mill and then plan repair work in a timely manner and prevent financial and time losses.

In order to create a system for diagnosing the technical condition of a rolling mill, scientists had to teach a neural network to analyse a large amount of data on the operation of equipment received from special sensors. The mill is equipped with sensors for an automatic process control system by default, but the information they provide was not enough to create an intelligent analysis system. This prompted SUSU researchers to create additional sensors. Above all, these are special vibroacoustic sensors and sensors for measuring heat flow from the mill components under consideration.

“A software module was developed separately for each element of the design of the rolling mill, which helps diagnose its technical condition. This is a whole “infrastructure”, both software and hardware. The structural elements include walking beams: the entrance section of the mill, the tensioning station, the bending-tensioning machine, the input accumulator and the rolling mill stands,” explains Aleksey Erpalov, Candidate of Sciences (Engineering), Deputy Director of the SUSU Centre of Vibration Testing and Monitoring of the State of Structures.

To work with the system, SUSU specialists developed a software package that is already running on the computers of the enterprise: a staff member can go to the server by IP address, check the index of technical condition of the equipment and analyse data from sensors if necessary. All information for the mill operator is displayed according to the colour light scheme: green means that everything is in working order, yellow means something needs to be paid attention to, red means urgent action needs to be taken.

“Special attention was paid to identifying problems that the rolling mill is susceptible to during production. We spoke to many MMK staff members and came to a conclusion that bearings, hydraulic cylinders, or certain elements of the rolling mill go out of service most often. Our task was to offer a technical solution that would be useful at every level of work organization: both to the mill operator, the site foreman, and the workshop head,” says Vladimir Sinitsin, Candidate of Sciences (Engineering), Deputy Head of the SUSU Research Laboratory for Self-Validating Sensors, Systems, and Advanced Instrumentation.

The system went through a full development cycle from an idea to its implementation, with testing taking place after laboratory, full-scale, pilot and acceptance tests.

“The metal rolling shop plays a serious role in the structure of MMK: it is one of the most state-of-the-art workshops. And it is important that MMK is one of the leaders in the supply of cold-rolled sheets in Russia. Our system allows us to find problem units in a timely manner, and then maintenance, repair or replacement of the unit will be scheduled during the planned shutdown of the mill, and not at the time of the accident,” says head of the project, Director of the SUSU Mechanical Engineering Research Institute Ramil Zakirov.

The whole team of the Research Laboratory for Self-Validating Sensors, Systems, and Advanced Instrumentation worked on the project. A special contribution was made by Olga Ibryaeva, Candidate of Sciences (Physics and Mathematics) and Senior Research Fellow of the laboratory, and Ivan Fedosov, Junior Research Fellow of the laboratory and postgraduate of the Department of Informational and Measuring Technology.

Photo: Ivan Fedosov

South Ural State University is a university of transformations, where innovative research is conducted in most of the priority fields of science and technology development. In accordance with the strategy of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation, the university is focused on the development of big scientific interdisciplinary projects in the field of digital industry, materials science, and ecology. In 2021 SUSU became the winner in the competition under the Priority 2030 program. The university acts as a regional project office of the World-class Ural Interregional Research and Education Centre (UIREC), which is aimed at solving the tasks of the Science and Universities national project.


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