The 2022 AISTech Conference and Exposition was held May 16-18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the conference and exposition’s most successful year yet with more than 8,000 attendees. The event featured 300+ technical presentations and 500+ exhibitors, featuring the latest technologies in iron- and steelmaking from all over the world. AISTech 2022 also gave away a brand new, fully loaded, 2022 Chevy Silverado Truck to one lucky attendee. Both Blower & Vacuum Best Practices and Compressed Air Best Practices Magazines were pleased to be in the literature bins. A virtual experience was also available this year for those unable to travel and featured a technology conference, exhibitor connections and plenary events available to anyone with a computer.
Vacuum Technology Roundup
Busch Vacuum Solutions told me about their vacuum systems for steel degassing. Steel degassing is the process of removing all the impurity gases such as Nitrogen and Hydrogen out of the liquid steel. What makes Busch’s solution unique from other manufacturers is that their Cobra vacuum pumps are set up on skids making them easy to transport from place to place. The skids also save space in a plant because they can be placed side by side. Busch told me that they were no stranger to steel degassing in other parts of the world, but they are new to the process in the U.S. They were proud to tell me they received a significant order in the U.S for a big system to be installed in a large facility soon.
Sean Donnelly, Thomas Burke, Mike Krupitzer, Mike Norton (left to right) at the Busch booth.
Pfeiffer provides both pumps and instruments to generate and measure vacuum in different steel applications. Brian Cox greeted me at the Pfeiffer Vacuum booth where they were showing a few pieces of equipment. He showed me Pfeiffer’s leak detector, which is a small portable unit with a remote. The unit is designed with the service technician in mind in that it can be easily carried from place to place. What Brian was most proud to show me was their industrial gas mass spectrometer. Pfeiffer is taking a laboratory instrument and making it durable enough to withstand any industrial environment. Brian said, “it is the first of its kind and we expect full production in the beginning of 2023.” Brian also mentioned their new lobe blower is the future of steel degassing, but it was too big to bring to the show.
Brian Cox next to Pfeiffer Vacuum’s industrial gas mass spectrometer.
Dave Morris showed me a 3D model of Leybold’s standard module design at their booth since the real system was too big to show. The module included eight RUVAC vacuum boosters backed up by up to four DRYVAC dry screw pumps. The entire module is Atex certified and is a vacuum solution for modern melt shops. In fact, Leybold already has 11 installations in North American steel mills and melt shops. Dave Morris, Business Manager, Leybold said, “no one does it like us,” when describing the module’s redundancy to avoid downtime.
David Badaczewsk next to a 3D model of Leybold’s standard module design.
Edwards supplies mechanical vacuum pump systems for the secondary refining of steel. They have a proven track record and have been supplying the industry since 1998. Edwards has dry pumps that consume less electricity and no steam, minimizing the carbon footprint of the system. Anke Teeuwsen was proud to tell me that she authored a paper at the show this year, Diversified Mechanical Vacuum Pump Solutions for VD/VOD, highlighting Edwards’ technologies.
Anke Teeuwsen and Theron Everett (left to right) at the Edwards booth.
Cooling Systems, Motors & Drives, and Fan Technology Roundup
Howden represented their aftermarket and OEM business at their booth. Their axial flow and centrifugal fan products are used in the steel making process. Their fans are used to remove and clean waste gases from the steel process. Their exhaust fans help with plant operation by drawing waste gases through the primary waste gas cooler.
Stephen Williams and Same Vacca (left to right) at the Howden booth.
ABB’s booth featured their drive and control technologies. They supply a selection of AC and DC drives to the steel industry. Their booth featured crane control with their AC drive. The crane has special software and special controls so that it doesn’t sway. The ABB booth also featured a drive control emulation. Siraj Boudighar showed me how changing the controls increased or decreased the speed of the demo motor. Their drives can be used for many applications. The ABB booth also had their cabinet DC drive on display. The design makes it simple to add more drives in a modular design as well as being simple to remove or replace if something were to go wrong. Siraj also told me that ABB can control the entire steel process. Their electromagnetic stirrer is used to stir molten metal into a homogenous mixture. Their controls also operate hot rolling, cleaning and painting, among other processes.
Joel Hatfield and Siraj Boudighar (left to right) next to ABB’s control system.
Rockwell Automation featured their information software solutions at their booth. Adam Milazzotto, FIIX app and maintenance technician, told me that Rockwell Automation’s solutions enable factory talk innovation by monitoring production and decreasing downtime. Rockwell Automation also had augmented reality at the booth where you could see their products put into a steel plant. What impressed me most about this booth was their Polytest Robot for cooling bed sampling. I was told that sampling in a steel plant typically takes 120 seconds and is a dangerous process that usually needs a plant shutdown. The Polytest Robot thrives in a dirty, demanding and dangerous environment and is able to sample in just 20 seconds. The booth also featured their latest edition drive (as of April 1st), the Powerflex 755TS. The drive monitors its own health and comes with ethernet built in. It is available with optional XT Technology that coats critical components to protect from hazardous gases.
Marco Maleki and Adam Milazzotto (left to right) next to Rockwell Automation’s Polytest Robot.
Motion distributes a variety of bearings, hoses, hydraulics and safety equipment to the industrial sector and had a selection of items on display. In addition, they supply ABB Baldor motors and drives, vacuum pumps, centrifugal air-operated diaphragm pumps, automatic lubrication systems, pneumatics and electromechanical equipment. They manufacture their own fluid power equipment.
Denis Balogh at the Motion booth.
The steel industry requires cooling water for contact- and non-contact applications such as roll cooling, cooling molds on casting machines, cooling electric arc and induction furnaces, heat treatment, hydraulic systems and more.
Hydrothrift Corporation was present discussing its complete line of thermal transfer systems and nationwide heat exchanger repair and remanufacturing services. While also offering open loop systems, its custom-engineered closed loop (dry type and evaporative) cooling systems offer reliable temperature control and efficient operation. Its Closed-Loop Evaporative-Type systems (20 – 2,000 gpm) are equipped with heavy-duty prime surface evaporator coils, close-coupled centrifugal pump, surge and vent tank and more in a packaged pump and control skid. After more than 40 years, Hydrothrift has completed more than 23,000 projects globally for organizations in the most demanding environments.
Paul Heston and Ron Lair at the Hydrothrift booth (left to right).
On display at the Baltimore Aircoil Company (BAC) booth was its Series 5000 Industrial Grade Modular Cooling Tower for contact water and dirty water applications. When steel is being rolled or cast, cooling water is introduced – collecting mill scale, oil and grease in the process. The Series 5000 from BAC is designed to withstand and shield off mill scale, oil and suspended solids with its proprietary splash fill bars. Other features of its crossflow, axial fan, induced draft design include superior maintenance and cleaning accessibility, ENDURADRIVE variable speed direct drive fan system, corrosion protection system, and flow rates up to 4,500 USGPM.
Andrew Sickler and Kevin Deliman at the Baltimore Aircoil Company booth.
Air Products showcased its industrial gas solutions and technologies for all phases of iron and steel production. The Air Products Foundation pledged to donate $100 to the AIST Foundation – up to $15,000 in all – for each registered attendee who visited the Air Products booth. The Air Products team also contributed to the Energy and Utilities sessions with a presentation on “Hydrogen Production and Supply Methods for Decarbonizing Iron and Steelmaking” as well as contributing to the panel discussion on “A Pathway to Making Your Reheat Furnaces Green while Improving Capacity and Reducing Energy Consumption.”
Mike Pires and Ted Lyons at the Air Products booth (left to right).
Ross Controls is well-known as for its rugged directional control valves and air preparation units. The Ross Controls team was on site discussing how they’ve incorporated safety components into its turn-key packages of pneumatic components and valves for OEMs and suppliers. These safety panels include air relief valves in the event of emergency stops, air preparation, lockout mechanisms, safe pressure select valves, safe return dual pressure valves and more.
Scott Hill and Eric Cummings at the Ross Controls booth (left to right).
The 2023 AISTech Conference and Exhibition will be held May 8-11, 2023 at the Huntington Place Convention Center in Detroit, Michigan. For more information visit https://www.aist.org/home.aspx.
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