The winning project began in 2002 when ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s leadership challenged the steelmaking production unit to increase throughput of Ultra-Low Carbon Interstitial- Free (ULC-IF) steel and Advanced High-strength Steels (AHSS) to meet future market demand. The project team quickly identified opportunities for improvement at the KOBM oxygen steelmaking vessel to address production bottlenecks and quality constraints. In this area, carbon is removed from the hot metal and the resulting liquid is poured into a ladle- a process called “tapping”. The liquid is then refined at the metallurgy station where flux (a cleaning agent like lime) and alloys are added to transform the material into high-quality steel.
“We knew we had to make adjustments to the process to be able to produce high-quality steel, quickly and efficiently,” said Dongsheng Liao, Steelmaking Technology. “Most importantly, we wanted to improve Health and Safety by removing the need for operators to be close to the molten metal.”
Today, the KOBM steelmaking sequence is fully automated from the first oxygen blow to the end of steel tapping. These improvements combined with new, automated, laser technology that precisely guides the ladle into place, have almost eliminated the need for slag raking, which speeds up the refining process by 15 minutes.
“The team transformed the KOBM process with minimal costs by combining existing systems, sharing expertise between departments and bridging technology gaps with innovative solutions,” adds Stephen Waterfall, Steelmaking Technology.
As a result, ArcelorMittal Dofasco is the only BOF in the world that doesn’t require any sampling. Notably it is also the first fully automated tapping furnace in the ArcelorMittal Group, and one of only three in the world. These milestones have not gone unnoticed by the industry as this project was also awarded a worldsteel “Steelie Award” for best innovation.