Corus reaps benefits of AC control at new continuous slab caster

Drives from Control Techniques feature on the latest continuous slab caster at the Corus steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales, controlling all of the critical operations at the head of the line. The new Continuous Caster 3 (CC3) was installed to supply additional production capacity in line with the new blast furnace No.5 that was installed last year. "This is the first vertical mould caster for Corus," says Corus Concast Engineer, Roger Morgan. "and our first real experience with Control Techniques' Unidrive SP AC drives. We've found them to be very reliable, easy to use and easy to configure. The whole approach to this project has been a move forward in technology, with no analogue to digital interfaces – it's all digital – with greatly reduced wiring; in most instances just two wires instead of hundreds."

The implications of a total system failure on a continuous caster are extremely serious, so that back-up redundancy in all areas was a key part of the design. In conjunction with Corus, a dual redundant control and communications system was implemented. The plant interface is direct to two PLC's, one operating in full time production, the other acting as hot standby. Furthermore, two communications links are provided between the PLCs and the Control Techniques drive system, and a failure to communicate via one of the routes automatically initiates a communications link via the second route.

The drives suites were manufactured and tested at Control Techniques UK Drive Centre in Telford, and additional in-house trials were conducted using Corus' system PLC's and the new motors to replicate plant operation and fault modes. These verification trials proved invaluable, as the time spent in in-depth testing at Telford significantly reduced the on-site commissioning period.

"We are very pleased with the results of this major project," comments Roger Morgan. "In many ways the approach has been simplified thanks to new technology of course, and we anticipate much greater plant utilisation because of the inherent reliability of modern electronics. The after sales support we receive from Control Techniques has been excellent and indeed our long standing experience of good support over several major schemes was a factor in Control Techniques being chosen for this project."