As ladle makers and caster, we prepare the steel ladles for melting, pour the steel into the ingot molds and then take care of the ladles so that they can be reused again.
A typical day looks like this:
At the beginning of each shift, we prepare for the following tasks. The most important thing for us to do is to review the ladle folders and sheets – these documents specify which steel ladle is needed next, or what tasks are due. We prepare everything necessary for casting, such as the inert gas rings and sometimes also the casting powder in the molds.
One of our main tasks is casting. We’re responsible for opening the ladle, setting the correct casting speed and positioning the ladle over the casting sprue. After the casting process, we check the empty ladle for damages or severe wear of the refractory lining. For minor repairs at the upper part of the ladle, we use refractory gunning material. If a ladle is no longer to be used, we remove it and hand it over to the refractory department. Furthermore, we replace the purge block if necessary and the slide gate before each use as well as the inner sleeve at the bottom of the ladle to ensure that each ladle is ready for its next melt. If a new ladle is needed, we assist the foreman by retrieving the ladle from the fire and measuring the ladle’s temperature. What’s essential at the end of each shift is handover to the colleague and checking the records to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
It takes many years of experience to be able to assess the ladles’ condition as well as controlling the casting process – both of which are a huge responsibility. For the logistics (ensuring the right ladle at the right place at the right time), it takes an understanding of the whole production process and also organizational skills.