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ABB systems chosen for South African blast furnace revamp


 Switzerland, Zurich, June 16, 2015 - ArcelorMittal chooses ABB control technology to help expand production at its flagship KwaZulu-Natal steelworks

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has helped achieve a 12 percent increase in liquid iron production following the electrical, control and instrumentation systems upgrade at an ArcelorMittal blast furnace and steelworks in South Africa.

During a shutdown last year, ArcelorMittal South Africa invested heavily in relining and refurbishing the sole blast furnace and renewed the control system at its plant at Newcastle in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The investment, one of ArcelorMittal’s largest in South Africa, took two years to plan and six months to carry out. It will increase production from 1.7 million to 1.9 million metric tonnes per year.

The upgraded blast furnace control system has 7,000 I/O points and uses ABB’s System 800xA, with seven redundant AC800M controllers. The system controls the overall blast furnace process including stockhouse and charging, the bell-less top, the casthouse, hot blast stoves, slag treatment, gas cleaning, water cooling system and pulverized coal preparation and injection. The control system includes alarm and asset management, enabling easier operation and maintenance of the blast furnace plant.

The project involved integrating more than 300 Profibus PA devices and 200 HART devices to the System 800xA.

Data for the control system is provided by an extensive suite of ABB instrumentation, consisting of 130 ProcessMaster electromagnetic flow transmitters, 260 temperature transmitters, 150 RTD Sensytemp thermometers, 140, 2600T series pressure transmitters, over 500 thermocouple transmitters and seven level transmitters.

The electrical package includes 200 UMC100 intelligent motor controllers, 15 PST series softstarters and 15 ABB industrial drives, all integrated with the control system’s fieldbus.

As well as supplying the hardware and software, ABB engineers supervised the installation, assisted with the commissioning process and trained the customer’s maintenance personnel. The overall package was fulfilled by a joint team of ABB Croatia and ABB South Africa.

ABB was chosen for the contract on the strength of its technical solution and its previous performance record for blast furnace reline projects. “It was a pleasant experience working with the ABB team.They are very professional, knowledgeable and their experience gained from previous blast furnace revamps was visible in the end result. No program modifications or corrections were required after blow-in of the blast furnace.In fact, the ABB team was always willing to go that extra mile to ensure that the project was done successfully and on time” observes Jan van der Walt, the ArceloMittal project manager. “The ABB 800xA system proved itself working in the harsh blast furnace environment and the operators adapted quickly to the new control system operation.”