TETRA COMMUNICATIONS IN A STEEL PLANT IN BRAZIL
The Tubarao Steel Company (CST) is one of the two most important plants belonging to Arcelor Brazil, which is part of the Arcelor Mittal Group, the world’s largest steel company. CST is the leader in sheet steel products destined for the car industry.
The factory is strategically located in the Vitoria region in Espirito Santo state, in the Brazilian South East. It is also connected to several roads, railway lines and a large port complex. These resources facilitate access to raw materials such as iron powder for steel production. Some 5,000 people work in Tubarao spread out over a wide area in such zones as sintering, blast furnaces, lamination, administration…
The plant has three blast furnaces and an annual production of 7.5 million tonnes split between the manufacture of plates and hot coil made in a wire laminated train. This makes up 12% of global steel plate production. Tubarao steel plant is highly efficient both in productivity and export of its products and has been awarded environmental certificates. Since 1983, total sales have been 74 million tonnes.
CHALLENGE: ROUBST COMMUNICATIONS IN A BARSH ENVIRONMENT
The previous communications systems were based on analogue solutions consisting of a single site with 20 channels, and limited capacity.
The existing infrastructure did not provide coverage for the entire plant leading to dead zones with intermittent signal strength. Besides, the system had to be flexible enough to be able to cope with additional users and allow network growth.
The steel plant had a number of Type 5 job levels, with a high risk of deaths and accidents. For this reason, the communications system to be implemented required high reliability and redundancy, especially in sensitive areas such as blast furnaces. Work conditions could be extreme including high temperatures, a large amount of iron powder, high salt levels, as well as damp, tropical, industrial environments subjected to significant vibrations.
Highly aggressive operational environments within the plant demanded a communications system with fast reaction times. Plant productivity depends on the efficiency of its operations which is reflected in increased profitability.
On top of all these factors, many of the existing terminals did not work properly or were damaged. Replacement was based on leasing and short battery re-charge times. Unsatisfactory maintenance could involve time periods greater than 6 months.
SOLUTION: TETRA IN A STEEL PLANT
The communications system requires a technology based on advanced digital communications directed towards operations of a critical nature such as the case of a steel plant and particularly in blast furnaces where one is exposed to extremely high temperatures. The only technology that fulfils such requirements is TETRA.
The solution has allowed a gradual implementation of the new digital system, during a period of co-existence with the analogue system. TELTRONIC was selected as the network provider and also provided maintenance.
The network has been designed so that it achieves the requirements of wide-area coverage reaching all areas of the plant such as sintering, railway, blast furnaces and offices. The new system is integrated with the public telephone and corporate networks; the plant uses SCADA systems and 24-hour monitoring with CCTV cameras and alarms. Communications recording is also available.
Thanks to the powerful infrastructure and the move to the TETRA standard, user capacity has been doubled and it is now possible to assign dynamic groups required for daily operations at the plant. For example, the different users can be divided up into groups of steelmakers, blast furnaces, fire brigade, mechanical and electrical maintenance etc.
TELTRONIC’s NEBULA infrastructure provides redundancy and also fulfils the requirement of allowing network growth. A second phase is therefore planned to increase the number of base station carriers, allowing more communications channels as well as the acquisition of another 1,000 hand portables and hundreds of mobile terminals.
CONCLUSIONS: TELTRONIC PROVEDES EFFICIENCY AND RELIABILITY
TELTRONIC’s knowledge of project management combined with the reliability of its NEBULA solution designed using a robust IP architecture have shown how versatile they are by being able to implement a professional radio communications system in an environment with the very specific characteristics of a steel plant. Working in very hostile environments has tested the robust nature of the HTT-500 hand portables subjected to high temperatures and a large amount of dust.
Plant operations have improved significantly underpinning the dayto-day tasks of thousands of workers and increasing the efficiency of work processes. TELTRONIC has shown itself to be an excellent partner responding to the plant’s needs in recent years, leading to an extension of the system to take place during the coming year.
“Plant operations have improved significantly underpinning the day-to-day tasks of thousands of workers and increasing the efficiency of work processes”.