Software objects a real blast
Corus Scunthorpe, the largest UK integrated Steel Works recently undertook a major renewal of plant in its Turbo Boiler House. The opportunity was taken to completely re-engineer its control and information system. The requirements for high availability and uptime for the critical air blast to the furnaces resulted in Wonderware Application Server and other ArchestrA products being used. The system is a significant advance upon the legacy solution, offering enhanced redundancy, better up time and easier operation.
The Turbo Boiler House is a critical part of the process at Scunthorpe. Although it generates electricity from the multiple boilers it is the supply of continuous air for the blast furnaces that is the key function. The air blast is created by five steam turbines that drive compressors, these are in some cases duplex and are connected via a switched manifold system to allow cross- and top-up feeding and thus ensure that the blast is maintained. From the boiler house the air is fed to stoves which increase the temperature of the air so that it can smelt the iron ore in the blast furnaces; failure of the air supply could result in significant loss of production and knock on effects to all areas of Steel production.
The situation at the site is one of continual renewal, with vast inter-connected steel making processes requiring careful consideration of consequential effects of engineering, and of he opportunities in deploying information systems to enhance production and reduce business risk. The Turbo Boiler House had several legacy DCS technology systems to run the equipment but this was seen to be a risk owning to increasing difficulty in spare partprocurement, know-how and reliability. The decision to replace the system was taken in tandem with the decision to refurbish the capital equipment (in particular the turbines); the phased roll-out of the refurbishment being ideal for changing the control and information scheme.
For the replacement system selection was made for the technology vendor and also for the integration partner. The key issue surrounding the technology was redundancy and the method of its deployment. During this evaluation Wonderware Application Server was seen to have an effective redundancy solution and also allowed a structured approach to be taken using re-usable objects – this was ideal for the boiler house as much of the generating equipment (air and electricity) was the same (or very similar).
The Integration was undertaken by Corus Northern Engineering Services, Automation Solutions. The competitively bid tender being placed with them owing to their experience in the application and the business and operational benefits demonstrated in their proposal.