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Steel mill puts Purdue control theories into practice

Steel mill puts Purdue control theories into practice


I always was interested in the control
theory aspect and that was one of the main focuses when I applied for Purdue.
And then Professor Jain reached out to me. She saw that I had done a previous
co-op with another company and they’re like, “oh, we have this really cool
company collaboration, and we think you’d be a great fit for this.” –The focus of
this project is to improve a specific manufacturing process called twin roll
strip casting, specifically for steel. And so it’s about manufacturing thin strips
of steel very very quickly. We’re working with a company called Castrip LLC,
which is now wholly owned by Nucor Steel, who has a plant down in Crawfordsville,
Indiana, which is about 40 miles south of here. When you’re casting steel with this
twin roll process, as you’re pouring molten steel, which will be about 1,600
degrees Celsius, as you’re rotating, if there’s any imperfection in the
casting roll itself, it’ll just be magnified into the strip profile. –When you have molten steel at thousands of degrees Celsius, you can’t actually have
sensors very close by. There’s a lot of constraints in what we can sense. And so
about 6 or 7 seconds goes by between where the strip is formed and when we
actually get to check to see what its thickness is. And so handling that delay
is what has been challenging about this. They’re going to be rotating these
casting rolls about once every one to two seconds, and we want to be able to
change the position within that frame. We’re going to be measuring the strip
profile, and then trying to change the position of those casting rolls. So that
if they see this disturbance that’s coming in from these imperfections in
the casting roll, they can reject that and then keep the profile more uniform and
more consistent during the casting process. –What we’re doing is working on
designing control algorithms for their process that help them have finer
control over that final product. We’ll take those measurements and then run it
through a process, an algorithm known as iterative learning control. And we’ll use
that iterative learning control to come up with this new position signal, which
we’ll then send to the casting roll position control system, which will then
move the cast and rolls like we want it to. –The collaboration with Castrip and
Nucor has been, in my mind, sort of the best that you can ever have between
academia and industry. So we’re very excited, and it’s been
a lot of fun to be able to demonstrate the algorithm on actual equipment. That’s
something that a lot of folks don’t actually get to do. –The next phase of the
project that we’re going to be doing is actually installing it into their
existing control architecture, so that then when they use it, not just in
Crawfordsville but also in their other facilities throughout the world, they’ll
be using the controller that we’ve been working on here at Purdue.

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