From ArcelorMittal: Better Decisions from Smart Software

This article appeared in the February 2015 issue of ArcelorMittal Bremen’s internal magazine. It was translated into English from German and is being used with permission.

Our department, “Modelling and Simulation T02,” has the task of helping ArcelorMittal Bremen GmbH to optimize processes, minimize costs, boost efficiency, and come to the best decisions.

With FlexSim and COMSOL, two important simulation tools made available for our use, we can model real world processes and replicate planned process improvements before implementation to avoid unnecessary costs. The first step is to collect all process relevant data for an operation — this allows us to develop a mathematical model of the operation and use the results for decision support.

Simulation model of AGV system in cold rolling mill (birds view)

Simulation model of AGV system in cold rolling mill (birds view)

FlexSim is designed to simulate logistics and production processes. The results of these simulation runs are performance predictions under various constraints (e.g. different product mixes) and can include but are not limited to utilization and capacity information. The model is able to display the hidden bottlenecks of an operation. It allows the modeler to determine if the behavior of a modified operation meets the expectations of the planning process.

FlexSim has been used in the project (“Auto guided vehicle transports in our cold rolling mill”) to validate the capacity of coil transports. The order sequence, the interaction between the two AGV’s, speed parameters, and collision avoidance have been implemented in the model to develop a superior path system. As a result of the simulation, an additional evasion track has been suggested to reduce congestion.

While FlexSim is modeling logistics processes, COMSOL is used to create 3D models of single components of production systems. The area to be investigated is split into a finite number of simple geometries according to the Finite Elements Method and allows an observation of the mechanical stressing of the component or its temperature allocation.

Example rack stand V6. Left picture shows ¼ of the area of the stand to be calculated due to symmetric design with the geometry network. Right picture shows deformation of the stand under pressure (colored, overdrawn for clarification) vs. its rest position (black outline). Colors show vertical strain levels.

In our hot rolling mill, COMSOL has been used to determine the stability of a rack stand after a necessary surface grinding process. The simulation was able to show that the tensions within the stand were below a dangerous level for its stability.

In November 2014, we hosted the first user meeting for all German speaking users of FlexSim simulation software. The discussion and information exchange between participants from various fields of industry, research, and education has provided valuable input for our own application of the software.

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