The machines used in the rolling mills to inspect the surfaces are not yet serial models, but this will change very soon. “That of course has something to do with the fact that every plant is equipped with its own specific inspection system,” says Thomas Köpsel. He, a computer scientist at IMS, has just returned from Finland. The surface inspection system was previously installed in the stainless steel production line of thyssenkrupp in Bochum. Following its sale to the Finnish company “Outokumpu”, the system was moved to Finland and naturally had to be adapted to the requirements there.
Köpsel does not even bother to unpack his suitcase because, after a short stopover in Heiligenhaus, he travels on directly to India. The software engineer has more than enough to do. He finds the inspection system incredibly exciting as the system has been lifted into a new dimension. “In the past we could only inspect the slabs in 2D, so to speak, but now we have reached the third dimension.” This technological 3D inspection process, called laser triangulation, now makes it possible to avoid surface defects already during production. Much to the pleasure of particularly steel manufacturers, as it saves them considerable costs. It also helps to improve the quality of their product significantly. Detection and simultaneous documentation of surface defects during production optimises the raw material. This of course makes it possible to infer how defects are arising and thus to maximise optimisation already during the production process. “That is an enormous advantage,” says Björn Krämer, also a computer scientist at IMS and colleague of Thomas Köpsel. “If, for example, there are always scratches and defects on the side wall at a shipbuilder’s, this naturally causes many problems and a lot of costs.” It is possible that such a defect can be traced back simply to a defective transport roll. Such a defect would be detected very quickly by the surface inspection system. Further, using the documentation of the surface inspection system, it can be shown, for example, that the rolling mill is not responsible for the defect. The data are stored in IMS’s own MEVInet-Q quality management system. IMS supplies the necessary memory for this. “We normally look at an ROI of 1.85 cm,” says Köpsel. The laser and camera are arranged at a certain angle to each other as used in laser triangulation. The result is extremely exact. surcon X-3Dvision is thus the most complete surface inspection system available on the market today. “The only places we cannot measure are before and after the slab,” says Köpsel with a chuckle. For the software engineer it is interesting to work on the inspection system. He joined IMS in 2007 immediately after completing his studies in Applied Information Technology. “I saw a job ad and it matched what I wanted to a T.”
surcon GmbH was established in December 2008 as a joint venture between SMS Siemag AG and IMS Messsysteme GmbH. The joint venture was dissolved in May 2015 as the development of the surface inspection system had been completed successfully. surcon GmbH is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMS and aims to establish the brand name “surcon” on the market. And all signs for the success of the brand are green as surcon X-3Dvision is more or less the only product available on the market for surface inspection of steel. All leading manufacturers of steel and aluminium have been using surface inspection systems in various stages of production for years. They are a firmly integrated tool for monitoring of surface quality in cold and hot rolling mills and as such contribute significantly to quality assurance. surcon has begun to make a name for itself in the field of surface inspection systems and has in the meantime sold more than 15 such systems. In view of such a positive development, it comes as no surprise that all staff in the joint venture were taken over by IMS.