Russian steelmaker NLMK has completed stage one of an automation programme for its railway transport management and control system at Lipetsk.

The chief aim is to increase reliability and efficiency of logistic processes, including speed of load handling and raw materials/products transportation security in the context of increased output and delivery volumes.

Investment into automating NLMK’s railway transport management system totaled approximately RUB 350 million. Over the last five years NLMK has invested approximately RUB 4 billion maintaining and developing its transport system, including the construction of a logistic infrastructure for its next generation Blast Furnace #7, which was launched in 2011. The railway management system is costing RUB350 million.

For Sergey Likharev, NLMK’s vice president for logistics, it’s all about improving productivity across all logistic processes. “In the last three years alone, the volume of railway deliveries from the Lipetsk site has increased by 17%,” he said, adding that automation allows the company to grow production volumes.

The automation programme involves railway switch and signal controls at several stations being organised from a single work place in order to cut costs and increase organisational efficiency.

Stations are being equipped with state-of-the-art systems for microprocess centralisation of railway switches and signals to increase throughput capacity and improve safety, although five stations are already equipped with the system.

Four stations are equipped with automated systems for the commercial examination of rolling stock, which increases the efficiency of cargo-turnover. The new equipment allows handling service workers to check the safety of goods and wagons without setting foot on the rails.

Next year NLMK will continue its initiatives to organise the control of several stations from one point as part of phase two of the project, which will include the construction of the ‘Tsentralniy’ servicing terminal for locomotive repair and maintenance.

The Novolipetsk railway system consists of over 485 km of railways; 18 stations; 123 locomotives; and 1875 wagons. The plant receives 31.5Mt of raw and other materials per annum, delivered by railway; and dispatches 14Mt of finished products to customers.