Improving the reliability of the compressed air supply to the blast furnaces at Tata Steel IJmuiden

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The four blast furnace blowers at Tata Steel IJmuiden are essential for the operation of the blast furnaces. The blast blowers are steam turbines that drive large air compressors, with a power up to 37MW. In the last four years the blast blowers have suffered from a higher unplanned downtime than is acceptable for the company. This situation endangers the reliable and efficient operation of the blast furnaces, resulting in a great financial risk for the company and making it a top priority to ensure a reliable compressed air supply. Improvements for the operational and maintenance strategies were researched. For the operational side this resulted in the introduction of process standards and a risk assessment of the production planning. Here is concluded that the risk assessment model behaves as expected and can be used to compare different scenarios in terms of probability of production loss. Some scenarios were analyzed, lead to the conclusion that the situation of the equipment status was indeed critical, that the expected production loss will return to normal levels starting january 2017 and that there are investment possibilities to reduce the risks from that point on. For the maintenance strategy advice for condition verification and a model for performance monitoring were introduced, where is concluded that wear and damage to the blast blowers possibly can be detected using the thermodynamic performance model that was created during this research.