Accurate length and speed measurements of products in steel mill applications have been very difficult due to a number of mechanical system challenges, such as heat, debris build-up and the deterioration of mechanical parts. Yet, many metals producers still use mechanical contact encoders, such as wheel tachometers, to perform these product measurements.
Problem with Contact Encoders and Tachometers
Contact-type measurement systems by design do not directly measure the product and do a poor job of capturing the actual length and speed with any degree of accuracy. These mechanical systems are subject to slippage and calibration changes caused by variations in the diameter of the measurement wheel due to the accumulation of debris. In addition, it is extremely difficult to obtain accurate measurements in extreme manufacturing environments.
Non-Contact Laser Gauging Delivers the Accuracy Required for Challenging Applications
Modern steel mills have turned to non-contact laser length and speed gauges, such as NDC’s LaserSpeed Pro gauge, to eliminate the measurement errors associated with contact measurement techniques. This laser-based, higher precision technology is cost effective and used in numerous hot and cold steel processing applications today. Examples include: measuring product length and speed, cut control in continuous casting, cut control in plate mills, elongation control in temper and skin pass mills, gauge control in cold rolling mills, discrete part length and defect detection, and other applications.
Leading laser-based gauges can optically measure product length and speed with +/-0.03% accuracy and +/-0.02% repeatability and without contacting the product. These gauges can also detect forward or reverse product direction and down to true zero speed (when the line is at a complete standstill).
Good News for Steel Producers
Non-contact length and speed gauging is the best long-term investment that steel mills can make. Highly precise and highly reliable product length and speed gauging enables cost- and quality-conscious steel makers to dramatically reduce measurement errors which translate into improved process control and real productivity gains. Companies that adopt this technology today will realize a competitive advantage for the long term.