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Tata Steel product quality relies on ZwickRoell robotic testing system

The Trostre Steel Works, part of Tata Steel Europe’s infrastructure, is in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, south Wales. It manufactures approximately 400,000 tonnes per annum of tin, chrome, and ‘polymer’ coated steels for the packaging industries: including food and drinks containers, aerosols, and paint tins. Importantly, all steel packaging material produced at Trostre is 100% recyclable.

High steel coil output coupled with the requirement to control manufacturing processes and monitor product quality prior to product release, resulted in a need to consider a materials testing system which could comfortably handle the high throughput of tensile test specimens and provide test results of the highest integrity.

Following a detailed examination of available testing systems, ZwickRoell was selected as the manufacturer of choice, to supply and commission a robotic testing cell to satisfy the company’s demanding criteria. 

The recently commissioned ZwickRoell automated tensile tester is primarily used for quality control purposes, ensuring that any material released to the customer complies to stringent customer specifications.  The main test parameters are proof stress, tensile strength, elongation, and r-value.  The r-value, also known as strain ratio, is an expression of the ratio between strain in the width and thickness directions of the test piece and is used as a measure of the formability of strip steel. This is particularly useful as a manufacturer of packaging steel, as the r-value provides an indication of the drawability of sheet material that is subsequently drawn into cans by their customers.

Trostre works has a mechanical properties positive release policy for all finished coils, and a robust tester was required that would provide reliable results over a range of gauges and tempers on a 24/7 basis. 

The previous tensile tester in use at Trostre was also a ZwickRoell system which had provided sterling service for around 20 years, so the customer had experience of ZwickRoell’s product reliability and after sales service and maintenance provision. Competitive pricing was also a major factor which was considered in the decision-making process. 

Daren John, Customer Quality Manager at Tata Trostre, said, “An excellent project management plan in combination with a planned extensive commissioning program of the new system, gave us confidence in the ability of ZwickRoell as the preferred supplier.”

He added, “Our new ZwickRoell tester has enabled Trostre to seamlessly continue our mechanical properties positive release policy and the smaller footprint of the new equipment has also allowed us to relocate the system closer to other production and quality control activities saving us valuable time. The new ZwickRoell tester has proven to be extremely reliable over the ten months it has been in operation, and any minor adjustments to the system have been quickly addressed to ensure that our routine testing has not been compromised.” 

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