Meeting Minutes for the 43rd meeting in Mobile, Alabama

Meeting minutes of the October 18th, – 20th 2017 meeting in Mobile, Alabama

The members of the guild arrived on Wednesday October 18, 2017 for breakfast at 7:00am.           

Mark Kropf reviewed the details of the meeting and covered the week’s event schedule.

The following companies were represented; CMC Texas, CMC Alabama, Charter Steel Cleveland, Charter Steel Saukville, North American Hoeganaes ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Outokumpu, Pan Abrasive and IVACO Rolling Mill

Sean started the round table session by review a new process in the round table development to organize the round table topics by grouping began at 8:10 with questions from the floor.

Sean ask the members to introduce themselves and what small projects there shops completed that had a big impact on the operations that was not a big project or CAPEX job.

In over 30 years in the steel industry we cannot get or keep people in the steel mill in general. The group in general are experiencing similar issues and the topic of apprenticeships came up and the mills that went back to it are having better luck with retention than the mills without it. The conversation continued for a while discussing the different ideas. Shift schedules also came into the discussion as a deterrent to worker retention. Other topics that came into the discussion was the incentive programs, retirement incentives and the use of outside contractors. The group discussed the team process by getting there maintenance and production personnel involved with the improvement or solution process to create buy in with the staff,

Took a break at 9:10

We started back at 9:20

Slag door/lip cleaning system, who is using what and does anyone use the grant system? Moe tank was discussed, Empco, Concast, Demag systems were mentioned. The group discussed the pros and cons of those systems.

Who is using the aluminum current conducting arms? A number of shops are using them and the group discussed the pros and cons for the aluminum arms vs the copper clad arms.

How do other shops set triangulation on their electrode arms? The group discussed the different processes that are used and what works and items to watch for.

Scrap crane operator runs crane from the crane cab, who uses the loading process with remote control crane without a clear line of site using cameras for view? Most shops are using remote controlled cranes but have a line of site. The group discussed the issues associated to this process.

Is anyone using optical system or protective relays for over current scenarios in the furnace? One or two shops are working with it with more work to do.

What kind of life are most shops seeing on the power cables for the electrode arms? Some shops are on a 3 year cycle. Storage of the cables were also discussed and the trend today is to store in a crate flat and long rather that hanging them. The newer technologies of internal mounted sensors for field and current measurement for cable integrity checks.

The group talked about beer can grounding lugs from DMC which allows for quick disconnect on the grounding connections 4,000 MCM ground on the roof to gantry. And they use an explosion welded copper/carbon base to be able to weld the mounting blocks to the arms for improved grounding.

What are other shops doing with hydraulic & grease sampling and how often? Most shops are doing monthly sampling. They also use the suppliers to do the monitoring as a service. They also will filter new fluids being used to bring levels back up.

Took a break at 10:30

We started back at 10:40

What are other shops using for status lights for there in service cranes? There was different color references. The group discussed what they are using in color identification.

Do other shops have problems with shell over temps and what are you doing to correct it. And what temps do you stop? Most shops will shut down to correct over temps on the slag line when there at 700 to 750 degrees F. Most issues are either electrode profiles or slag make up issues. The conversation moved into continuous thermal scans of ladles in service to measure refractory thinning.

Are other shop looking at or working with the “TOYOTA Way” of lean management in the maintenance side of the work. A lot of shops are using LEAN, “5 S” and or TPM types for maintenance management systems. The key was to train the teams in the culture change and to empower them take ownership of the process. Conversation covered a lot of different issues on buy in and what holds back some team members. Peer recognition was another program discussed to improve collaboration between teams.

The group broke for lunch at 12:00

What incline belt suppliers are other shops using flex-a-wall was one mentioned. The group talked about different ways to do repairs on damaged sidewall belts.

Gunning and stamping robots for refractory addition. Also scanning the bottom for refractory addition. The group discussed a BSE unit for the scanning unit and RHI has the gunning robot. The conversation moved to sample lances and the stainless process has different requirement and requires higher quality.

Does anyone have problems with scrap puncture on the roof panels? Most shops do not but some had arc issues and evacuation, scrap mixture profiles, and grounding issues are some of the issues that effect this phenomenon.

Water leak repairs on the roof was discussed and one company talked about using a vacuum pump to remove water from leaking and allows repairs to performed quicker with no water coming out the hole or crack.

Has anyone ever had issues with transformer gassing on a new transformer?  Most of the members present said no and that it is an issue that should be addressed. The level of acetylene has been stable around 1ppm so they are not sure if it is an issue.

Is anyone using any online training programs for trouble shooting? One program that was looked at runs high at $1200.00 per user per year and not sure if it has the value.

The group returned from lunch at 1:10

Does anyone monitor the manpower for the vacuum truck and grounding for the corrugated pipe? The group discussed the different issues that they all deal with in their respective mills.

Does anyone use personnel cooling or have areas for the workers to get cool fresh air for the guys on the floor. There were a couple of companies that do and they discussed how they prevent dirt from being blown around. Group discussed different cooling technologies like cool vests and other types of personnel cooling technologies. Vortex was another cooling unit discussed.

Does anyone up north deal with frozen wet coal and how do you keep it fluid? There was a discussion on bin heaters and different vibratory system used but at time it requires jack hammers to break it free. The conversation moved to 5th hole addition systems.

Does everyone have fire suppression in the transformer vaults? Yes from everyone present.

What style roof lift does the group like and why? The group had different comments and each had there pros and cons.

Took a break at 3:30

We started back at 3:40

Does anyone have any comments on a company called UMEC? Some did but not many commented.

How are other shops managing compressed air some shops use air cooled, some have water-cooled, some are screw compressors and others are centrifugal types are all had their reasons for the one they used.

Has anyone done anything with updating power outage procedures? The group discussed their particular procedures and what the importance is for them.

Do other shops purge there tundishes with nitrogen prior to pouring? Yes most shop do.

Does anyone allow people under a full furnace with a flat bath ready to tap to clean the pit? NO!

Does anyone have a procedure for verifying all water valves are open after an outage? Some shop have and they had different ways and methods.

What procedures are other shop doing when using crane rail stops? Different procedures were discussed. Rail stop, spotters and tags in the crane cabs that show the operator rail stops are installed, were mentioned.

Does anyone have trouble with thermocouples changing polarity after a furnace outage? No other shops had seen this phenomenon and could not offer an explanation.

The round table finished at 5:00 pm.

This meeting the members will be on their own for dinner and return to the hotel for the Hospitality room activities from 7 till 11 provided by the supplier sponsors.

The group started off Thursday with breakfast from 7:00 to 8:00. Sean opened the Technical session with updates for the day and reminded everyone that was in attendance to provide their business cards for the attendee list. This will be emailed to the attendees later in the week. All papers will be available for review on our web site.

Sean made the introduction for our first presentation at 8:05.


After a short break Sean introduced our second paper at 9:00. 


After a short break Sean introduced our third paper at 9:55

 EDGARDO LA BRUNA OF TIMKAN TECH PRESENTING A PAPER TITLED "SOLUTIONS & SERVICES FOR THE METALS INDUSTRIES" Edgardo finished the presentation at 10:30 and took questions from the floor.

Sean made the introduction for our fourth presentation at 11:00


11:30 and took questions from the floor.

12:00 Members went to lunch

1:05   Members boarded bus and departed at 11:10 for the tour of the Outokumpu Stainless plant

5:30                 RETURN TO THE HOTEL

At 6:00 the members gathered in the Ballroom for a hospitality mixer.

At 7:00 dinner was served.

At 8:30 we were able to hear our guest speaker Mason Burge Team Manager – EAF/AOD, BA AMERICAS OUTOKUMPU

From 9:00 - 11:00 the group finished with a mixer to discuss the day’s events and information.

On Friday October 20th, at 9:00 the members attending enjoyed a round of golf at Spring Hill Golf Course.