A Volvo L220H wheel loader is beating the heat, handling hot slag at temperatures of up to 1,400ºC in a state-of-the-art steel production facility in Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of steel. Last year, it exported 15.2 million tons to more than 120 countries, representing nearly a fifth of the country’s export value.
An important contributor to this thriving industry is Interpipe Steel, the operator of a state-of-the art metallurgical plant in Dnipro, the industrial heart of Ukraine. The Interpipe Steel mill boasts an electric arc furnace, built in 2012 by Italian company Danieli thanks to a $700 million investment. The plant produces round steel blanks, which are used by other Interpipe factories to produce seamless pipes and wheels for railway rolling stock.
The process of smelting begins with the supply of raw materials, which is then loaded into the furnace with the help of a mould (basket). After the loading has been completed, the electrodes are lowered into the furnace and a high voltage current is introduced, beginning the melting process. After casting, a layer of hot slag forms on the surface.
"At the end of the moulding, when the melting process is over, the hot slag is discharged under the furnace," says Andrey Katrich, production engineer for continuous steel casting at Interpipe Steel. "To move the hot slag out, we get the help from our heavy Volvo machine."
Interpipe’s Volvo L220H wheel loader drives into the extremely hot environment and remove slag that has a temperature of around 1,400ºC. The wheel loader handles the heavy-duty tasks with ease, ensuring excellent performance and outstanding fuel economy even in these challenging conditions.
The production process does not cease for a moment, as not only does unplanned stoppage incur a loss in earnings, it could also be extremely hazardous for the operator. Therefore, the reliability of the technology is of utmost importance.
"We require machines that are fast, but most importantly dependable," Katrich says. "The machine is trusted with the most important thing of all: the operator’s life."
The L220H features a premium Volvo engine and perfectly matched drivetrain and hydraulics that deliver power, productivity and reliability.
Operator Oleksander Tkachenko has been driving wheel loaders for six years. Every day, he operates the Volvo machine under furnaces full of red hot metal.
"We used to worry about operating these machines," he says, "because they have electronics and electronics often fail in extreme environments. But it took us no time to get used to the Volvo wheel loader. I would say the electronics and mechanicals are hard to compare. It’s very easy to operate the machine."
The L220H’s electronics support preventive maintenance and diagnostics for maximum uptime. Sealed connectors protect the machine’s reliability and increase its longevity.
Interpipe Steel recently calculated the amount of fuel the other loaders consume per month, and according to its preliminary estimations, it turns out that the Volvo machine can work with the same amount of fuel for significantly longer.
The H-Series wheel loaders feature state-of-the-art technology such as OptiShift – a unique technical advancement that reduces fuel consumption by up to 18% and increases machine performance. In addition, Volvo’s load-sensing hydraulics supply power to the hydraulic functions according to demand, also lowering fuel consumption.
"The Volvo wheel loader fully met our expectations," said Sergey Blizno, transport repair man for Interpipe steel. "It works around the clock and all of them run smoothly."
Oleksander Maksimovich has been operating wheel loaders at the facility for 12 hours a day for the past seven years.
"The cabin is very comfortable, soft and easy to operate, so I don’t get tired, even after a 12-hour shift," he says.
Volvo’s industry-leading design allows 90% of the cab air to be recirculated through the main filter for continuous dust removal. What’s more, the optional, multi-functional joystick gives the operator simultaneous and precise control of the hydraulic functions. Finally, the viscous cab suspension reduces vibration and noise, increasing operator comfort and performance.
Thanks to this hardworking Volvo machine, Interpipe is able to keep production running and steel itself for whatever lies ahead, safe in the knowledge that its equipment can handle the heat.