Image for Laser measuring technology upgrade to Whyalla Steel Mill

A $3 million upgrade to LIBERTY Primary Steel’s Whyalla Structural Mill and finishing ends will deliver enhanced accuracy and reduced tolerances to hot rolled steel (HRS) sections and rails.

The installation of two laser measuring systems will deliver significant enhancements to accuracy and tighter tolerances that will exceed the requirements of Australian Standards at LIBERTY Primary Steel’s Whyalla Structural Mill. In accordance with LIBERTY’s rigorous maintenance and upgrade program that requires planned shutdowns to undertake major works, the $3 million upgrade began in early 2019.

Inline Measurement Device

Following the implementation of the new LIBERTY Steel identifying mark LS AS, which replaced the former ONE AS in late 2018, major works began in January 2019 to alter the Whyalla Structural Mill’s facility in preparation for the installation of a Danielli laser-based Inline Measurement Device.

LIBERTY Primary Steel’s Peter Rostig explains that the laser-based system will deliver a significant enhancement to the measuring process of HRS and Rail sections.

“The laser-based Inline Measurement Device will give a real-time 3D measurement of the product as it rolls through the Finishing Stand of the Mill," Peter says. "These measurements are critical to ensuring the mill’s output is within customer specification.

“With the implementation of the new laser-based system, measurement accuracy will be further improved with measurements taken and results reported in real time, opening up the future potential of dynamically adjustable mills.”

Rail End Straightness Measurement Device

LIBERTY Primary Steel is Australia’s only manufacturer of rail and is a supplier to major rail projects around the country, including new and upgraded railways and existing railways requiring maintenance. Rail is supplied to customers for welding prior to installation. The flash butt welding process used requires a high degree of dimensional accuracy in the rail end, with the last 1.5m–2m required to comply to a 0.5mm tolerance.

With the implementation of the laser Rail End Straightness Measurement Device, the operator will be able to measure and straighten each rail quickly and accurately, delivering improvements in productivity and accuracy, with rail produced to a world's-best-practice tolerance of 0.3mm before delivery to customers for welding.

LIBERTY is committed to full product compliance and traceability. Each HRS section carries the LS AS mark, while rail product receives an additional identifier in the form of a hot stamped number unique to each rail for tracking purposes. These identify the manufacturer (LIBERTY Primary Steel), place, date and time of manufacture and can be used to trace the rail’s source back to the heat batch it was produced from in steelmaking. As well as the dimensional testing, all of LIBERTY’s products undergo rigorous and continuous chemical and metallurgical testing as part of ACRS certification.

With preparatory installation works undertaken in January and a staged program of further works to be carried out, followed by a rigorous testing and calibration regimen, the $3 million installation is scheduled to be completed and the two laser measurement systems brought online in June 2019. 

Main image of the Inline Measurement Device to be installed in the Mill.