BlueScope Steel Limited’s steelworks at Port Kembla—in New South Wales' Illawarra region—is the largest steel production facility in Australia. The company operates a primary shipyard for unloading, and a secondary stockyard for material blending and sorting. BlueScope wanted an automated solution that would cut costs while maximizing area utilization, and, at the same time, boost reclaiming throughput. They found their solution in FLSmidth’s BulkExpertTM system, and a full return on investment is expected within two years.
The BulkExpert technology is an unmanned control system consisting of high-precision RTK GPS receivers and 3D laser scanners. It has enabled BlueScope to operate its stockyard machines in an unmanned mode, and to achieve the highest possible utilisation of its machines and stockyard area.
Reclaiming throughput is up by 90% (from 10,000–12,000 to 19,000 tpd) thanks to the centimeter-level accuracy and efficiency of BulkExpert technology—far beyond the capability of a human stacker/reclaimer operator.
“Boosting throughput is just one of the benefits the BulkExpert system has delivered to BlueScope’s Australian operations; there are many more,” said Mr. Rasmus Stefansen, FLSmidth Global Product Line Manager, Bulk Handling.
“The BulkExpert system uses advanced mathematical modelling to predict the stacking pattern. It ensures maximum pile footprint and also contributes to a reduction in material segregation.”
“Flowrate variances have been reduced by more than 40%, which, for the first time, enables BlueScope’s two machines to work together to create the ideal blending result on the outgoing belt.
"BulkExpert’s simulation capability has significantly improved planning, allowing management to plan days ahead and decide exactly how incoming material will be stacked and reclaimed.
"Efficiency and safety have also been increased because the unmanned BulkExpert system allows stockyard machinery to operate consistently close to operational limits without exceeding them,” Mr. Stefansen added.
The BulkExpert system includes a stockyard management system that provides an operator with full control and detailed, real-time monitoring of the entire stockyard. Being able to keep track of exactly where different grades and quantities of materials are located is vital in order to schedule and optimize a combined stockyard operation. In addition, the operator can schedule and queue individual tasks for each autonomously operated stockyard machine.
Also included is a material tracking database that keeps track of all material handled by the stockyard machines. Material properties—such as density, grade and type—can be added and customized, and data can be exchanged with other information systems.
FLSmidth's team revitalized much of BlueScope’s existing hardware during the rollout, even though some of the hardware was more than 30 years old. This helped cut costs. The BulkExpert system has significantly reduced maintenance costs because it implements controlled movement and reduces overall travel motion. As already stated, all of this is expected to help BlueScope achieve a full return on investment within two years.
FLSmidth’s BulkExpert system also offers solutions of unmanned operation for portal reclaimers, tripper cars and train loading.
“For train loading, the BulkExpert system takes into account the actual state and condition of each wagon by performing a full-sectional and cross-sectional scan,” Mr. Stefansen said. “It then adjusts the loading accordingly to optimize the process for full-wagon utilization without running the risk of overfilling.
“FLSmidth's BulkExpert monitoring and control system can handle the challenges and requirements of transporting bulk material on today’s modern railway systems. Benefits include lower transport costs and shorter loading time per wagon.”
CONTACT: Rasmus Stefansen