Cutting Costs on the Continuous Caster

It's difficult enough to manage the cutting torches of a continuous caster that takes in molten metal at 2800 degrees and spits out red hot strands of solid steel slab. Adjusting the cut locations on the fly to minimize waste due to quality problems takes the already challenging problem to a whole new level.

Recognizing this, MSA Process Automation Solutions and Services (MSA PASS) of Pittsburgh set to work to develop an application that would enable steel producers to automatically adjust the planned cuts as defects are detected by a quality tracking system. The result was their award winning Cut Optimization application that reduces scrap and increases the yield of prime salable product. The Cut Optimization product calls the LINDO solver and utilizes a proprietary mixed integer linear programming formulation. LINDO is able to typically solve the model in seconds -- compared to alternatives tested by MSA PASS that required minutes.

Cutting Costs on the Continuous Caster

Conservatively, yield improvements of 0.25 to 0.50% are possible. Given the huge quantities of steel that a single caster can produce in a year, this small improvement can translate into enormous savings. The Cut Optimization software was selected as a winner of INDUSTRY WEEK magazine's annual Technology and Innovation Awards Program. The magazine's editors choose it as one of the Top 25 Technologies of the Year for 1999 that show high potential for redirecting business opportunities and creating new growth in the manufacturing world.

Another common problem steel makers face involves blending. Their challenge is to find the least expensive set of raw material ingredients that produce a steel of a specific final chemistry. MSA PASS has been providing optimal blending applications to clients in the steel industry for several years. Their Blend Optimizer can help purchasing managers in planning the purchase of raw materials months in advance of their use. As with their Cut Optimization application, their Blending Optimizers use LINDO to solve Mixed Integer Linear Programming models.

While MSA PASS may be best known for their work in automating steel mills, they have also worked in chemical process, pulp and paper, and other industries.

For more information on LINDO, please see the product pages. You can also download a demo version from our download page or order a full blown version directly from our order page.

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