Polytec heads toward the future


At the upcoming 12th Rolling Conference, Polytec announces three new robotic solutions for the rolling mill.

1) The result of a strategic collaboration with Primetals Technologies, TrimRob is a robotic system for wire rod #trimming and #sampling. During rolling, the head and tail of a produced wire rod typically show defects in shape and limited mechanical properties. For this reason, a manual operation of cutting some coils must be done between the coil forming head and the binding, typically on the horizontal transport hooks, to eliminate the defective portions of wire rod. Conventionally, the wire rod head and tail rings are trimmed on a hook or mandrel by human operators. The operators are exposed to multiple risks including heavy equipment in movement, limited ergonomics, high temperatures and the needs of lifting heavy weights. Regardless of vertical or horizontal coil handling system, coils needs to be transferred to an intermediary holding structure to trim tail ends. Robots trim a specific number of rings from both ends of coils depending on size, grade, and customer requirements. These trimmed scrap rings need to be removed from TrimRob workcell at regular intervals. Turntable scrap removal system is one among several options. Three scrap carriers are placed on turntable at 120 degrees angle, separated by guard fencing. Front-end and tail-end robots can independently deposit scrap on carriers, while a forklift replaces them at the same time. A low height swing gate next to the turntable allows the forklift to replace scrap carriers without interfering with operation of TrimRob. This scrap removal system, as designed, seems to be most efficient in terms of timing sequence requirements.

2) The second solution combines mobile robotics and a robotic arm: PolyGAP is a robotic system for gap and profile measurement between stands in a rolling mill process. Today, to carry out the measurement, the operator enters the rolling mill area, approaches the incandescent material, and places a more malleable material (traditionally wooden board) on the product section. After that, he checks the negative profile resulting to identify defects such as overfilling, underfilling, top-bottom roll misalignment, and others. The critical effects of this kind of operation are long stopping times of the lamination process and of the subsequent analysis time of the sample, with consequent delay in the measurement result and high risks for the operators.

The innovative solution aims to automate is the identification of deformations of the rolling product due to the roll misalignment, a wrong gap setup, and/or various mechanical/chemical causes. It includes the use of an autonomous guided vehicle, on which a robotic arm integrated with the measurement product and / or analysis device is installed. The 2D / 3D vision scanner identifies the correct measurement point. The system moves autonomously along the rolling mill’s stands, approaching the best measuring point. The scanning system has a series of sensors or profilometers positioned in such a way as to detect different faces of the rolled material, in order to recreate the shape of the surface. Reference values can be set, so that the machine can autonomously produce a warning when the shape or profile is out of tolerance. A communication with level 1 allows you to monitor in real time the position of the head or tail of the laminated material in real time. The measure interruption function can be implemented to promptly respond to in case of cobbles or other major production issues. There is the option of building a rail system to guide the robot to fixed positions between the different stands along the rolling mill. 

3) The third system, PolyTEST, is located along the cooling bed and automatically manages the sample cutting. Usually the operator accesses the cutting shears or the cooling bed to manually cut a sample of one of the rolled bars for an indicative length of 40-90cm, by using oxyacetylene cutting torches. The critical aspects of this operation are related to the long downtime of rolling mill operations and therefore to the sample analysis, as well as to the operator access to a high-risk area.

The new robotic system allows to easily reach the best pick-up point, depending on the plant layout. The cut can be carried out using different techniques, based on the type of material, the cutting quality required, or based on the target performance (Circular or band saw, Shear, oxyacetylene cutting torch, Laser). The vision system that performs 2D / 3D scanning, can be static or mounted on the robot’s tool. It identifies the arrival position of the material to be cut and can integrate a partial control of the sample in terms of size. The option of the robot mounted on an autonomous vehicle allows the automated handling when samples need to be taken from different points of the plate or from different plates and the automated samples’ handling to the lab station.

Ion Rusu, R&D Manager, BM Group Polytec, will be the speaker at the 12’ Rolling Conference: “2022 has been a virtuous year for us in terms of technological innovation. I can express great satisfaction with the work that the Research and Technological Development department has done. The birth of the “Voyager” fleet, the range of autonomous guided mobile robots for a smart warehouse management, completely engineered and built by us, these three robotic cells destined to our core market, the steel industry, and all the new features and improvements of performances implemented on existing “products”, are the result of a big multidisciplinary collaboration and great synergy between all our departments.”

Omar Bazzoli, Sales Director, BM Group Polytec: “Having the knowledge of the best technologies, being able to count on a multidisciplinary organizational structure able to combine them, giving a concrete answer to a manufacturers’ need or solving a critical issue of the process, rewards and encourages our daily commitment. We know that our work is a concrete contribution to technological development and continuous improvement of the steel process and we are enthusiasts about it. Competence, passion and dedication: this is the energy that fuels Polytec’s engine for the development of innovations for the industry. To gather our historical skills in automation, robotics and software development under a single company was a decision worth taking. The numbers for the current year are record-breaking. While managing 60% of orders for tailor-made technological solutions, we now have a “catalogue” of over 40 robotic cells, with more than 300 installations all over the world. We are opening three new companies, Polytec Korea in Seoul, Polytec South America in Sao Paulo and Polytec Technologies in Mexico, we are strengthening the Polytec USA Corp. team and we continue our collaboration together with universities and other companies to sign new strategic partnerships. All this with the main goal of providing the best solutions and assistance to our clients. We look towards 2023 with optimism, BM Group will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Meet us in Trieste, at the 12th Rolling Conference organized by the Associazione Italiana di Metallurgia to discover more of our innovations."