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How to improve your hot strip mill maintenance strategy through condition monitoring

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Optimizing maintenance stops in a hot rolling mill is easier said than done. Start with a variety of developing faults you need to correct before they fail, spread them over more assets than you have time to check, and add a side order of pressure to get production back on track as soon as possible: voilà, you’ve got the makings of a tough puzzle you’ll have to solve every month again.

To solve the puzzle, you need all the pieces

Solving the hot strip mill maintenance puzzle in the best way possible requires maximum information on what’s going on with your assets, whether it’s a roller bearing slowly degrading over several months or a mandrel coupling’s play reaching intolerable levels in a matter of days. All this data will allow you to determine whether an asset will make it to your next planned stop, so you can prioritize the work that needs to be done over the work that’s nice to have done.

Condition monitoring can provide the data you need

This means that as a reliability manager, you want to know the health of your assets at any given time. A condition monitoring solution can help you with this. Tried and tested techniques such as vibration analysis for coiler gearboxes and oil analysis for roller bearings could provide you with a continuous stream of information on the current state of every asset in your mill—if the mill’s harsh environment allowed for the placement of sensors on the assets themselves.

Data collection challenges in a hot strip mill

Unfortunately, the extreme heat and copious water in a hot rolling mill wreak havoc on condition monitoring sensors. As a result, you may find yourself forced to compromise on the availability of data, only able to collect information on your assets’ condition during scheduled maintenance stops. It’s better than nothing, to be sure, but it leaves you blind to developments that happen in between, which affects your priority-setting for the next planned stop and opens up the possibility of missing issues that develop over shorter time frames, possibly even resulting in unplanned downtime.

From intermittent data to 24/7 monitoring

So how do you get to the continuous stream of information required to optimize your hot strip mill’s maintenance strategy when installing sensors on the assets themselves isn’t a durable solution? A condition monitoring technique called motor current signature analysis (MCSA) can help.

MCSA can diagnose both mechanical and electrical problems in AC induction motors and driven equipment by analyzing current and voltage data. That source of data is what makes the technology stand out amid the heat and water of the hot rolling mill: MCSA sensors install in the motor control cabinet instead of on the asset itself, so the mill’s harsh environment is no longer a factor in sensor lifetime. And that means continuous data collection is back on the menu! ESA enables you to set up a 24/7 monitoring system, with the ability to detect failures such as a cardan shaft developing defective play which might go from 0 to 100 in a matter of days—something you’d miss if you’re relying on intermittent data points.

MCSA could provide the missing pieces in the puzzle of optimizing your hot rolling mill’s maintenance strategy—but as every mill faces its own challenges, make sure to investigate which condition monitoring technique suits your situation best. To find out more about MCSA and other suitable condition monitoring techniques for a hot rolling mill environment, download our comparison guide for hot strip mills below.

The condition monitoring comparison guide for hot strip mills

Download the condition monitoring comparison guide for hot strip mills to find out which method is right for your organization.

This e-book covers:

  • the anatomy of a hot strip mill
  • condition monitoring in a hot strip mill
  • examples of when different techniques will detect different failures
  • energy and performance insights

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