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Freelance controls coal injection at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe

For the launch of the operation, the production process was only interrupted for 36 hours

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Standing tall at 90 meters high is the Schwelgern 2 blast furnace of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg. It is Europe’s largest blast furnace and one of the largest of its type worldwide. Almost 19,000 tonnes of iron ore and up to 4,000 tonnes of coke per day are melted down in this furnace. In this process, 42 blow moulds feeds 1,200°C hot air and pulverized coal. Since August 2012, the Freelance distributed control system has been controlling the coal injection.

Freelance proven in other operations

In the past years, Freelance has provided the automation of both blast furnaces at Schwelgern. “The fact that ABB had successfully implemented process automation at other operations and processes such as the expansion turbine, wind compressors, gas analyser and coal injection was certainly enough reason to award the order”, explained Bernd Stöckler, account manager for ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, Duisburg, and Achim Wiele agreed unanimously. Achim Wiele is from the channel partner for this project, Küttner Automation GmbH, which was in charge of planning and launch of operations. 

AC 800F controllers were installed in eight control and process stations and for the first time ever operationally launched the software version 9.2 under Windows 7. “As many systems in the premises are equipped with Freelance, the decision was promptly made in favor of ABB, particularly because Freelance doesn’t interfere with the launch of operation”, explains Helmut Kiefer, project director with Küttner. He said that the system only needs to be offline of up to 36 hours. “There were competitors who have estimated downtime to be up to four weeks”, explained Kiefer – considering the throughput has no alternative: the blast furnace with an inside volume of 5,513 m3 produces 12,000 tonnes of raw iron per day.

During the melt-down of the iron ore and coke, temperatures reach up to 2,000°C. The raw iron flows into the lower part of the blast furnace, where it is discharged through the tapping holes and subsequently transported by train in fire-proof containers to raw steel production. “Of course, this is an outstanding example of heavy industry”, says Stöckler. There are other components to be controlled and monitored; almost 6,000 drives and valves are part of the blast furnace. The supply of raw materials and fuels, pressure, temperature and the composition of gases are monitored and controlled.

Close collaboration

Not only did ABB work on the project full time, with ABB having its office in the Duisburg premises – they also did well with providing 22 control and 23 process stations for the blast furnaces 1 and 2. Solutions have been developed between ABB and the team of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe in numerous meetings.

These were the results of the project:
  • Simple launch of operation
  • Increased stability and availability
  • Cost-effective hardware and software
  • User-friendly

Main facts

Industry Metals processing
Customer ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe 
Country ​Germany
Solutions ​Freelance
System integrator
Küttner Automation GmbH

“The fact that ABB had successfully implemented process automation at other operations and processes such as the expansion turbine, wind compressors, gas analyser and coal injection was certainly enough reason to award the order.”
“As many systems in the premises are equipped with Freelance, the decision was promptly made in favor of ABB, particularly because Freelance doesn’t interfere with the launch of operation.”

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