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NLMK Clabecq and Sirris identify optimal milling conditions

The municipality of Ittre is home to the Clabecq site (formerly the Forges de Clabecq steel plant) owned by steel producer NLMK. The plant mainly produces thin steel sheets for the energy and transport sector, mining and shipbuilding and the construction industry, but also supplies niche markets with products such as wear-resistant steel and high-strength steel. Keen to further professionalise its working methods and customer service, the Belgian NLMK site called on Sirris’s precision manufacturing expertise in 2015.
  • Professionalising customer service
  • Labour-intensive wear testing: simultaneous measurement and correct interpretation of all parameters
  • Datasheet to enable predictive working and prevent tool breakage

NLMK Group is a leading international steel producer headquartered in Russia. Its Belgian site at Clabecq, Walloon Brabant, specialises among other things in the production of thin steel sheets, wear-resistant steel and high-strength steel. 

“Together with NLMK, Sirris investigated the ideal machining conditions for different types of steel and tools.”

Resolving customer queries

What are the optimal milling or machining tools for this type of steel? What are the best cutting conditions for that sort of steel? These are the kinds of customer queries faced by NLMK Clabecq on the production line. The answer depends on many factors: the kind of steel, the type of milling cutter (the number of teeth and grooves can vary greatly depending on the cutter), the cutting speed, the cutting surface, and so on. To optimise its customer service in response to these sorts of questions, NLMK Clabecq and Sirris embarked on an analytical journey. Their aim was to summarise the optimal cutting conditions in a single datasheet, which could be passed on to customers.

Wear testing: a mammoth task

In close cooperation with NLMK Clabecq, Sirris’s Precision Manufacturing Team investigated the possible cutting conditions for one type of steel and two types of tools, based on a French steel-processing standard that is the global benchmark in its field. The milling tools’ cutting performance was monitored for a whole range of parameters, including technique, power and speed. This was a labour-intensive process in which all parameters were measured simultaneously. The plethora of cutting statistics then had to be correctly interpreted – another mammoth task.

Predictive datasheet

But the effort was definitely worth it, as NLMK Clabecq now has a predictive datasheet for the types of steel and tools analysed. What is the lifespan of milling tool x or y when the cutting speed is increased or reduced, or a different type of steel is processed? What costs or savings do these decisions entail? These are exactly the kinds of customer queries that the steel plant can now answer accurately. The datasheet is also a valuable source of information for optimising the lifetime of tools, for example by determining the maximum speeds possible without breaking the tools.