Turning metal ingots, billets, blooms, or slabs into metal sheeting and other profiles, involves processing the metal through rolls of varying sizes, tension, heat, and pressure. Whether you are manufacturing sheets or coils of steel, aluminum, copper, nickel, or other metal, the precision alignment of the components in your rolling mill will have a significant impact on productivity and product quality.

Rolling mill equipment runs under constant stress and often over long periods of use. These factors can cause components to deviate from acceptable operating tolerances and specifications over time due to settling, vibration, abrasion, and sometimes even forklift hits – resulting in misalignment, loss of roller surface cylindricity, bearing damage or failure, and more.

No matter the process – hot rolling or cold rolling – or the rolling configuration, precision alignment of rolls and components of a rolling mill is critical to producing quality product, reducing scrap, and improving operating efficiency.

 

Issues caused by misalignment include: 

   

◊  Inconsistent or out-of-spec product   

◊  Uneven rolling thickness     

◊  Higher scrap rates

◊  Tension problems

◊  Faulty rolling direction

◊  Excessive vibration and chatter

◊  Premature component wear and failure – rolls, bearings, chocks

◊  Reduced rolling speed

◊  Unplanned downtime

◊  Increased energy consumption

 

Precision Alignment Tooling & Technologies

Fortunately for the rolling mill industry, the technological advancements made in 3-dimensional precision measurement allow for the inspection and alignment of rolling mill components to be completed much faster, with a high degree of accuracy, and in areas that were difficult or impossible to reach with traditional inspection methods. Additionally, most of today’s metrology instruments can withstand harsh industrial environments, making them the ideal choice for metal rolling mills.

By utilizing a combination of advanced laser-based 3D measurement technologies including laser trackers, laser scanners, and portable coordinate measuring arms, as well as the supporting metrology software, OASIS metrology engineers can assist rolling mills with:   

◊  Establishing and installing mill baselines

◊  Mill stand centerline inspections

◊  Roll alignment and parallelism

◊  Roll profile and wear studies

◊  Housing inspection and alignment

◊  Chock inspections

◊  Mandrel inspections

◊  Drive alignment – motor and gearbox

◊  Thermal growth studies

◊  Equipment verification and alignment during installation, component changes, or upgrades

 

Equipment installations and alignment

It is important to note that incorrect alignment during the installation of equipment continues to be one of the main reasons for misalignment issues in rolling mills. Precision is key to the layout and positioning of major components during installation. Laser trackers allow metrology engineers to quickly measure floor layout as well as obtain precise spatial positioning of components and guide adjustments during the installation. The entire installation process can be done much more efficiently, reducing the time for project completion. The same holds true during roll changes or other component changes or upgrades.

Conclusion

With hot rolling mills processing more tonnage than any other manufacturing process and cold rolling mills processing the most tonnage out of all cold working processes, it is no wonder that the rolls and components of metal rolling mills take a beating over time. Planning in advance for precision alignment inspections and adjustments during your scheduled downs as well as performing routine inspections for alignment and wear as part of in your preventive maintenance programs, will help increase operational efficiency and avoid costly issues due to misalignment. 

If you would like to discuss how advanced 3D metrology methods and tooling can help increase efficiency at your metal rolling mill, please contact us – an OASIS representative will be happy to assist you. And, be sure to subscribe to our resources for regular updates on precision measurement tools and methodologies, case studies, technology reviews, and more.

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