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Fahrenheit—No Match for Pixim-Powered Cameras
Speco and Pixim
solve steel mill’s ultimate lighting challenge
Rob Irwin had
the ultimate challenge for a video camera—recording and
monitoring a room that goes from dark to as bright as the sun in
a matter of seconds. As melt shop electrical supervisor for
Severstal, the fourth largest steelmaker in the United States,
he needed to find a camera that could continuously monitor the
mill's huge electric arc furnace (EAF).
steel mill is a hazardous environment and risk to employees
needs to be minimized as much as possible. The EAF poses a
variety of potential dangers. An electrode is lowered into the
furnace and an electric arc creates an intense heat which melts
scrap metal into new molten steel. The furnace is lined with
refractory material called fire brick. This special refractory
brick lines a big, steel ladle that is used to place the scrap
metal inside the EAF. The ladle's fire brick jacket has water
pumping through it continuously. Workers monitor the refractory
material 24 hours a day looking for cracks and other defects.
Since steel melts at 2950 degrees F, any water that gets into
the metal will superheat, and the whole furnace could explode
like a bomb.
would result in critical downtime for the steel mill. Though
Severstal has a backup EAF, it would take a week for the damaged
furnace to cool down enough to be moved. Thousands of dollars a
day would be lost. More critically, lives could be lost. This
disastrous scenario happened in January 2010 at a steel mill in
Indiana. The water in the EAF reached the molten steel, and the
furnace exploded killing one worker and injuring four others.
In addition to
observing the refractory material, the workers monitor the
entire melt process. Is the electrode working correctly? Is the
lid closing properly? Is the material melting as it should? To
mitigate human error during monitoring, Rob needed a camera that
could watch with an unblinking eye and accurately record events.
The numerous cameras Rob tried in the past could not handle the
extreme lighting conditions. The images would bloom whenever the
lid of the furnace would open, rendering the cameras useless. In
desperation, he turned to his security distributor, Grainger,
representative from Grainger knew who to ask. He contacted Glenn
Good, national sales manager for Speco Technologies. "Grainger
arranged for Glenn to come on site, look at our set up, and
determine if they had a camera that would work," explains Rob.
"Glenn immediately recommended Speco's line of Pixim-powered
cameras, and gave us a camera to test."
"We had to
leave a demo camera with them," Glenn says. "The environment is
dangerous so only employees are allowed in the area. They set up
the camera right out of the box with good results. They placed
the IP camera on their network which enabled it to be remotely
controlled through the DVR. We then conducted a remote
the results of the demo camera, Rob elected to buy several Speco
IP wide dynamic range cameras. Wide dynamic range is the ability
to capture shadow and highlight detail simultaneously in the
same video frame. "The cameras powered by Pixim bloom briefly,
but then immediately correct themselves." Rob continues. "The
correction is brief and doesn't hurt what we are trying to do.
We went from getting completely unusable pictures to having
monitors that show us more than what we can see with our own
Why do the
Pixim-powered Speco cameras work when other cameras failed? In
traditional, analog CCD cameras, all the pixels in the image
sensor have the exact same shutter speed. As a result, every
pixel receives the same exposure creating overexposed images in
bright areas and underexposed images in dark areas. Pixim-powered
cameras employ the only all-digital technology in the industry –
its Digital Pixel System® technology. Pixim's technology employs
hundreds of thousands of self-adjusting pixels to act like
individual cameras, eliminating image compromising visual noise
and delivering the highest resolution, natural color and
clarity, even in challenging lighting conditions. This
all-digital system efficiently captures the whole picture, down
to the crucial details.
Since many of
the cameras are hooked to DVRs, recorded incidences are also
used for employee training. "We can discuss what happened with
our staff," says Rob, "and show them how to avoid the situation
in the future. It helps us eliminate any safety issues."
is continuing to expand his use of the cameras throughout his
department. "The Speco IP cameras are a very affordable solution
compared to other camera suppliers for the same application," he
explains. He recently placed an order for 15 more cameras.
hopes the results of the cameras will convince Severstal to use
Digital Pixel System technology throughout its facility. "Right
now, we are only selling to the melt shop," he explains, "but we
could be selling them throughout the facility. We recently did
an installation for another steel company. The mill uses the
cameras to watch as melted steel goes through the coolers. They
can tell by the color of the steel if it is the proper
temperature. The accurate color provided by our Pixim-powered
cameras is essential."
cameras successfully met Rob's challenge. From dark rooms to
super-bright light and everything in between, Pixim-powered
cameras are the answer to any lighting issue.