Nucor Steel Improves Reliability
Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa operates 365 days a year and employs over 400. After testing several wireless technologies, Nucor began using HART® and WirelessHART® Communication technology as part of a reliability improvement program. They needed to accurately monitor critical water resources used at their plate steel mill for more reliable measurement readings, device diagnostics, failure analysis, and preventative/predictive condition-based maintenance. Using the intelligent device information available with HART has significantly reduced costs and improved plant operations while enabling a transition from reactive to proactive maintenance and improving plant operations. They also enhanced their EPA environmental reporting reliability.
The Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa, Inc., mill can produce more than 1.2 million tons of steel per year. Producing this amount of steel requires large amounts of water which it gets either from Lake Tuscaloosa or if required, via the local municipality which costs a lot more. This distribution system's water meters are monitored by transmitters that communicate their measurement values via WirelessHART monitoring consumption and point of use throughout the facility. This information allows engineers to conserve water, optimize the process, and provide leak detection alarming/alerting reducing the need for higher priced water.
WirelessHART technology helped Nucor realize benefits and savings throughout plant operations:
- Achieved 100% validated data and network reliability
- Depending on the application, they also saved 50-80% with WirelessHART compared to the costs of a wired solution
- After some basic technology and product training, the team found they could do their wireless upgrade and installation almost entirely in-house
- WirelessHART Installation includes 36 temperature transmitters of which 2 use extended range antennas, 19 DP transmitters and 1 adapter connected to a wired HART device on the water monitoring application
- Four WirelessHART Gateways create a wireless mesh network that covers the entire plant and their outputs connect to seven Wi-Fi radios creating a wireless backhaul to their PLCs
- They expanded their application to include 19 DP transmitters in the plant’s bag house and water filtration system and then to monitor the mill’s overhead crane bearing temperature and vibration
- Savings from monitoring the overhead crane were estimated at $150,000-$250,000 per event by taking action before a major problem disables the crane
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