High Power Steel Mill – Troubleshoot Meter Communications & Upgrade EPMS Software for Active Power Management

Success Stories

High Power Steel Mill – Troubleshoot Meter Communications & Upgrade EPMS Software for Active Power Management

Affinity Energy helps a high-power steel mill maximize output and maintain visibility to voltage disturbances.

EAF

Background

This southeastern steel mill is one of the largest mini-mill steel producers in North America and one of the largest power consumers in their state. They produce rebar, which is used to reinforce concrete in bridges, buildings, and other structures.

Scrap metal is melted in the facility’s Electric Arc Furnace (EAF), which requires approximately 40MW to run. Because of the EAF’s high demand, the steel mill has a demand limit set by their utility.

In the late 2000’s, they developed an Allen Bradley PLC-based active power management program that curtails or shuts down the EAF if, during a 30-minute block, it determines that it will exceed the peak limit.

The utility allows the steel mill to wirelessly access their four Schneider Electric ION 8600 electric meters to ensure no billing/output discrepancies exist. For the EAF’s active power management to work properly, it requires real-time meter information interfaced directly to the Allen Bradley PLC controlling EAF curtailment via a ProSoft network module.

The meter data was also directly interfaced to the local PowerLogic ION Enterprise EPMS system to allow the steel mill to gain visibility into power quality issues.

Affinity Energy was super responsive and flexible with our timeframe. We needed this work done in January to ensure optimum reliable operation of our plant. In the same trip, they were able to come up with a new solution to help us curtail correctly and have detailed power quality diagnostics from meters.

–Plant Electrical Engineer, High Power Steel Mill in the Southeast

Challenge:

In 2017, the utility upgraded their meters from ION 8600 to ION 8650. They also changed their phone modem connection to cell modem, which took away the Ethernet connection the steel mill’s wireless radios relied on. After the change, the ability for the PLC and ION Enterprise system to see those meters didn’t exist.

In the event of communication failure, the PLC was configured to automatically use conservative default load settings. The side effect of using default load profiles meant the EAF would shut down more frequently than if it was using "real" load data from the meters. This would result in less product production which meant less revenue generated.

In addition to communications loss, it was discovered that the 10-year-old ION Enterprise system had a corrupt database. Their monitoring system was totally offline.

Solution:

As a system integration partner the mill had worked with in the past, Affinity Energy was selected to find a way to get the meters and EPMS system back online in January 2018.

The new ION 8650 utility meters have two serial ports in addition to the single Ethernet port.  These two serial ports were ultimately needed to restore the system to full functionality. To get full power quality functionality, the ION protocol must be used; however, the ProSoft network module in the Allen-Bradley PLC requires Modbus TCP protocol. So, Affinity Energy engineers had to install two ethernet gateways at each meter radio location, one for connection to the EPMS software (ION) and one for connection to the PLC (Modbus).

Because the steel mill wanted to run on the latest Windows operating system and Microsoft SQL database, that required a complete EPMS upgrade. Affinity Energy upgraded the ION Enterprise EPMS to Schneider Electric Power Monitoring Expert (PME). With PME software, they’ll be able to examine power quality events that originate at the service points from the utility.

Results:

In the end, Affinity Energy was able to restore the real-time information from the utility meters to the Allen Bradley PLC via Modbus, and also allow full functionality within PME using the ION protocol to communicate with the utility meters.

The steel mill is now back on track to its normal production schedule. With accurate data from the utility meters, the EAF will curtail only as needed based on actual load data moving forward.

The mill is now looking into another project with Affinity Energy that involves troubleshooting the wireless network communication failures from their oxygen meter to PME that render the data less than 50% reliable.

Success Stories

Charlotte Pipe & Foundry

Managing energy costs for large industrial facilities can be challenging. Like many manufacturers, Charlotte Pipe and Foundry (CPF) viewed high energy costs as a necessary…

Read More

QTS Data Centers

Data centers and cloud storage are integral components of the digital age. Customers of data centers, both businesses and individuals, demand uninterrupted access…

Read More

Concord Energy

Municipalities looking for a renewable energy source can simply look to their local landfill. First, we won’t be running out of trash anytime soon. Second, the organic waste in landfills…

Read More

UVA Medical Center - Logs & Alerts

Because of the University of Virginia Medical Center's rapid growth, it was difficult to keep track of and access event details in their central energy plant. When generators tripped...

Read More

UVA Medical Center - ATS SUBMETERING

UVA Medical Center has dozens of ATSs distributed throughout campus, but no way of determining if loads were growing over original infrastructure load specifications...

Read More

UNC Chapel Hill - Temperature Control

UNC Chapel Hill needed a solution to regulate temperature in a thousand research rooms...without being held hostage to proprietary programming technology...

Read More

Solar SCADA & Field Controls

A large solar developer with concurrent solar projects needed to finalize SCADA at eight sites before the end of 2017 in order to meet tax equity implications...

Read More

Steel Mill - Active Power Management

Affinity Energy helps a high-power steel mill in the southeast maximize output, upgrade their EPMS software, troubleshoot meters, and maintain visibility to voltage disturbances.

Read More

Novant Health - Alarm Annunciator

Novant Health and Carolina CAT seek assistance from Affinity Energy in an emergency generator audible alarming compliance situation.

Read More

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission chose Affinity Energy to upgrade their power monitoring SCADA system. The completed system...

Read More

Southeast Hospital System Alarming

A large hospital system in the Southeast with multiple Central Energy Plants needed a way to keep an eye on SCADA and critical alarms at three plants...with just one operator.

Read More

Woman's Hospital - GE Integration

Affinity Energy was chosen by GE for a simple SCADA integration, but ended up also solving several frustrating power monitoring issues for end-user Woman’s Hospital.

Read More

Novant Health - Generator Alarming

Novant Health and Carolina CAT seek a new generator audible alarming solution to simplify NFPA compliance for the addition of new engine-generators.

Read More

UVA - PME SCADA Migration

A large university transitions automation systems to a single power management system, and encounters challenges in user interface design and navigation along the way.

Read More

Conetoe Solar Farm

In 2015/2016, Duke Energy Renewables wanted to outfit their new 80MW solar farm in Conetoe, North Carolina with controls and insight into each critical operational piece of equipment...

Read More

Duke Energy Solar Site Monitoring

Duke Energy wished to integrate solar data from North Carolina sites acquired from other solar installers into their overarching SCADA system of renewable resources...

Read More

JLL/Bank of America - CFMS Failure

When the CFMS unexpectedly failed for Bank of America, JLL turned to Affinity Energy for a quick turnaround to get the system back online.

Read More

Noncompliant Ramp Rate Response

A 20MW site in violation of their interconnection agreement looked to Affinity Energy to correct ramping behavior and remove oscillation in curtailed output.

Read More

Situational Awareness HMI

A landfill gas to pipeline project looked to Affinity Energy to deploy a highly sophisticated controls and monitoring solution with situational awareness design and ISA-101...

Read More