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Infrared Sensors for Metal Processing Industry


Temperature monitoring and control are crucial steps in almost every industrial manufacturing process, particularly metals. In the metal industry, the processing temperature needs to be controlled to ensure product quality. For example, metal processing industries install a monitoring system to consistently measure the process temperature in the blast furnace, rolling mills, die forming and hardening process. The monitoring is done for surveillance purposes to ensure workplace safety and for process optimization.

As metal production typically involves processing at high temperature, it is not particularly ideal to use thermocouples or RTD temperature sensors as they need to be in contact with the object. Non-contact sensing technology such as an infrared thermometer and thermal imaging camera are more suitable. The infrared sensors can measure accurately and reliably over a wide temperature range from 400oC to 3000oC, commonly encountered in the metal processing industry.

Bestech Austalia provides expertise and solutions for challenging measurement for the local industry since 2002. We partner with the global sensor manufacturers, Micro-Epsilon, to support the local industry with high precision sensors technology.

The TIM M1 compact thermal imaging camera from Micro-Epsilon operates at a near-infrared wavelength of 0.85 to 1.1µm to enable reliable temperature measurement on hot metal surfaces. This wavelength is chosen as the emissivity error due to higher radiation intensity from the hot metal at high temperature is neglected and temperature differences due to metal oxides are minimized at this wavelength band. This thermal imager also offers a wide measurement range from 400oC to 1800oC. A jacketed cooling system can be optionally equipped to the camera for operation at high temperature environment up to 315oC.

Moreover, this infrared camera offers a fast sampling rate of 1kHz enables the detailed thermal-analysis of rapid thermodynamic processes during metal processing and temperature adjustment in the real-time process. The system can be configured to output temperature values or alarm values via the process interface.

In the real-world application, the TIM M1 can be permanently installed for early detection of wear in the refractory lining of torpedo cars, slag cards and ladles. It can be connected to PLC and programmed to send automated warning message whenever hot spots are detected on the outer wall of the furnaces. This enables the engineers to perform preventive maintenance action to minimize risk and prevent failures.

Thermal imager can be used for continuous measurement such as to monitor forming temperature in rolling mills or within the die-forming process. However, an infrared pyrometer with short wavelength offers a cost effective alternative if the users are only interested in obtaining the single point temperature data.

The CTRatio M1 high-speed ratio pyrometer from Micro Epsilon is specifically designed to measure on red-hot and glowing metal objects. It operates at a wavelength of 0.7 to 1.1 µm and offers a fast response time for in-line measurement in production line. The measurement performed by this glass-fiber ratio pyrometer is not affected by interference such as smoke, fogs or dust that may partially or fully conceal the moving objects. This makes it suitable for application in an industrial environment.

For example, the CTRatio high speed pyrometer has been previously installed in the rolling mill to measure forming temperature between individual rolls continuously. This configuration allows the engineer to optimize process parameters and prevent temperature shift to ensure a high product quality. The sensor is also suitable for measuring temperature during the die-forming process as the blank’s temperature needs to be precise before it is getting hot formed. Additionally, it is also required to measure the temperature after forming and before being sent for storage.

In induction hardening processes, an optimum temperature-time profile is essential to produce metals with the desired microstructure. This high-speed pyrometer can be permanently installed for continuous monitoring. Optionally, the operators can use handheld pyrometer used for sporadic measurement.

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