Avoiding Common Steel Coil Processing Problems

Source: Machine Concepts. Leveler Rollers, avoids some coil processing problems

Steel coil strip processing lines are complex machines operating at high speeds with powerful equipment moving tons of steel in a precise fashion. This intense process introduces many possibilities for challenges and issues in even the best run steel coil strip processing operation.

 Due to the nature of steel coil strip processing, and the high precision requirements of today's marketplace, even the smallest process that is not optimized, or misunderstanding of the characteristics of the system can end up costing time, money, and resources.

 A common misunderstanding leading to line design problems is the difference between line and yield (or output) speed. Line speed and yield output are often mistakenly talked about as the same thing, however, there are distinct differences between the two.

 Line speed is a specification that is used to determine if the production capability of a line matches certain rates. The line speed or rate refers to the lineal feet of production during normal operation. 

 Yield or output, however, refers to a total amount of material processed in a given unit of time. But the yield or output would refer to the total amount of material produced, including the times when the cut to length line is stopping the material.

 It is easy to understand why this can be both a problem and a misconception between both line and yield (or output) speed which use the same units of measure. The difference is critical between variable speed lines or cut to length lines could be vastly different.

 The problem develops if somebody were to specify a line speed required but confused it with the total yield required. Consequently, they will undersize their equipment for the yield they are attempting to achieve. That would result in a wasted investment where the equipment is undersized or underrated for the yield.

 Another major area of confusion is the difference between a straightener and a leveler. At first glance, a straightener and a leveler appear to be very similar. Both have rollers and both are correcting deformities within the material.

 There is somewhat of a debate as to whether or not a line needs both a straightener and a leveler, and other manufacturers insist that a leveler will handle all the deformation correction in the material that is required.

 Once you truly understand the difference between a leveler and a straightener you can decide whether you actually need both in a line or not.

 A straightener is designed to correct coil set and crossbow alone. Though a precision straightener has the ability to maintain parallelism between the top and bottom roll, it would appear to be just like a leveler but it still is focused on coil sets and crossbow deformations.

 The fine point between the straightener and the leveler is that the leveler has the ability to deflect the rollers from center to the edge in order to correct edge deformation in the material (such as edge wave).

 A leveler has closely spaced and relatively small diameter work rolls that can be adjusted to deflect based on the deformation correction in the material as well as potential center deformations. The reason for this is that the leveler has additional mechanisms for deforming the rollers that are correcting the material.

 Straighteners do not have this level of sophistication so they are more limited in their capabilities for correcting deformations within the strip processing material.

 Depending on the quality of the coils received, it's conceivable that a line would need both the straightener and the leveler because the coil set and crossbow deformation might be more extreme than perhaps a leveler would be capable of handling alone. This comes down to matching the steel coil strip processing line to the coils that will be processed and to the quality specifications of the final product.

 If all of these elements are matched then it may well be possible to get away from using both a straightener and a leveler and rely strictly on the leveler solving all deformation issues. Many manufacturers go just this route.

 Other manufacturers insist that the deformations are best handled in a stage-by-stage basis with the straightener taking out the coil set and the crossbow, and the leveler handling edge deformation or center deformation. In the final analysis, the manufacturer has to ensure that their line is capable of meeting the specifications that they promised the client.

 The important thing to note is that it is quite possible to run without the straightener, using only the leveler. That alone could be a significant savings in both cost of equipment, energy used, space used, and of course eliminating an additional maintenance item.

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  1. Use appropriate technology and by-pass manual labor where possible for the roll and coil changeovers.
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