tenovaBCL Limited of Botswana has become the first recipient of Tenova Pyromet's new generation AutoFurn™ controller, proprietary automatic software which provides unique features for optimising furnace control. The AutoFurn™ software was supplied and installed within three months of date of order placed on Tenova Pyromet, part of the international Tenova Mining & Minerals Group.The software was installed on two submerged arc furnaces at BCL's plant in Selebi Phikwe, Botswana, with installation taking less than two weeks from arriving on site to automatic control mode.

Tenova Pyromet was awarded the contract based on the client's experience of a successful installation in the USA. In addition, Tenova Pyromet has a solid track record with BCL, having supplied a range of copper products, as well as having conducted a study for the plant.

The BCL plant is old with limited field instrumentation. Challenges related to integrating the system into the existing plant set-up were easily overcome due to the adaptability of AutoFurn™, which enables it to communicate with existing control systems. The many additional features of the new generation controller include enhanced furnace automation to provide automatic slipping, electrode baking after long slips and electrode sounding.

The user-friendly controller can be applied to existing furnaces and to those being built. By automating the process and maintaining the required furnace power and electrode resistances or currents, the controller brings consistency to the operation, allowing for rapid recovery from upsets, optimising power input and reducing furnace downtime. The controller also maximises furnace potential by allowing it to run as close to its safe limitations as possible.

One of the greatest challenges for operators of any ferroalloy furnace with Søderburg electrodes is electrode management. AutoFurn™ enables operators to balance slipping rate and electrode length, while ensuring that the electrode is sufficiently baked. Furnace power input is maximised by taking advantage of the fact that transformers, busbars and other electrical infrastructure are often not used to full capacity. This functionality does not run the majority of the time, but gives operators the ability to increase production by increasing megawatts per hour for a brief period. The controller provides access to important operational information in easy to read graphical formats. The inbuilt data historian stores data at intervals as short as 1 second for the lifespan of the controller, which enables up to 10 data types to be trended against one another.

"Although AutoFurn™ has been employed successfully on furnaces for many years, our commitment to innovation means that we are continually improving it to accommodate the changing requirements and challenges of ferroalloy furnace operators," says Chris Oertel, Managing Director, Tenova Pyromet.

Tenova Pyromet is a leading company in design and supply of high capacity AC and DC furnaces and complete smelting plants for production of ferroalloys, base metals, slag cleaning and refining. Tenova Pyromet also designs and supplies equipment for material handling and pre-treatment, alloy conversion and refining, granulation of metal, matte and slag, furnace off-gas fume collection and treatment, and treatment of hazardous dusts and waste. Tenova Pyromet has several technologies to reduce operating costs and increase production power consumption.

Tenova Mining & Minerals is a total integrated solutions provider to the global mining, bulk materials handling and minerals beneficiation and processing sectors, offering innovative technological solutions and full process and commodity knowledge across the mining & minerals industry value chain.