The customer that first approached Siemens Corp. about designing a reliable and inexpensive way to measure the thickness of aluminum plate was concerned that requiring operators to use hand micrometers on aluminum plate on the hot-mill roller constituted first and foremost a safety issue. But manual measurement also was causing the mill to question the accuracy of those measurements.
Because of the proprietary nature of the aluminum plate businessand because Siemens has yet to commercially license its pneumatic device for measuring the thickness of platethe mill cannot be identified.
But the mills process control engineer said the facility had long been looking for a non-contact solution for the problem. The cost of laser measurement was too high for the mill, which rolls plate measuring 1 inch to 7 inches thick, and "an X-ray gauge was three to four times the cost of a laser measurement," the engineer said. "We couldnt justify those costs."
The solution provided by Siemens was well within the mills budget, and the tolerances were well within specifications. "We did exceed the tolerances from day one," the mill engineer said. "As a result, consistencies improved immensely. Some of the operators didnt know how to read a micrometer properly. The Safety Department was very happy. And we even managed to eliminate some scrap."
The biggest fans of the device are the people who work with it on a daily basis. "The operators love it," the process control engineer said. "Its pretty much automatic. The operator brings the plate down to shear it and hits one button. All of the logging measurements got automated at the same time the device was installed."
The mill engineer is definitely happy he had a chat with his counterpart from Siemens three years ago. "Its a good product," he said. "They came up with something that really worked, at a great cost-saving."