Five Factors
Planning for the future, incorporating safety standards and being aware of the latest technology will guide decisions
BY Dan Goad,
Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives

aving a good roll grinding system is important for mill operators to efficiently and effectively make high-quality steel rolls. However, some mills may find themselves trying to catch up with the latest technology in order to stay competitive. Although an older roll grinder may run well most of the time and, for the most part, produce fair rolls, it might not keep up with demand.

To improve productivity, it may be wise to consider upgrading or replacing outdated roll grinding equipment. Before deciding whether to rebuild or replace an existing roll grinder, there are five important factors to consider:

grinding wheel
The grinding wheels used today are far more efficient than they were in the past.
Future needs
It may require a great deal of research but taking the time to plan and prepare for the future will pay off. Generally, you can start to reap the rewards of your planning in five to 10 years if paying down a capital loan.

Do your homework. Gathering information now can save many headaches and may possibly even save your business down the road. If possible, visit other mills and machine tool builders like roll grinder manufacturers and suppliers to see what is available. Equally important, gain an understanding of the aftersale support on all levels, from operation and maintenance to upgrades and parts.

Safety standards
Safety is the most critical item for consideration and must be practiced when replacing or rebuilding any grinder. Worker safety is of the utmost importance, and the environment must be taken into account as well. Check to make sure you are up-to-date with all local environmental laws, rules and regulations for both machinery and personnel.
The goal should be to meet or exceed tolerance requirements.
Material standards are continually changing for producing steel. The tolerance of the material is about 10 times tighter than it was when an older grinder was installed, perhaps even as far back as the 1960s or earlier. The goal should be to meet or exceed today’s requirements.

Roll grinders must produce material faster and with higher quality than ever before. In order to perform at optimal efficiency, investing in the latest grinding wheel technology is advantageous. Also, paying attention to all the details—from using the right amount of water, running at the proper speeds, incorporating the recommended tools such as coolant/oils and measuring equipment—is a good idea.

Process monitoring, automation
In recent years, there have been many changes with regard to human-machine interface (HMI) and process monitoring tools such as the Norton 4Sight Process Monitoring and Diagnostic System. Norton 4Sight collects real-time data for the efficient and cost-effective monitoring of process performance and optimization of productivity for fast decisions while grinding. 4Sight can assist in making sure production is on par with the expected output of your grinding operations. Don’t overlook this part of the process.
Although an older roll grinder may run well most of the time and for the most part, produce fair rolls, it might not keep up with demand.
There have also been significant advancements in automation. Although there once was one operator per machine, now, due to automation, multiple machine tools are being run and maintained by fewer operators.
Abrasives designs
Conducting some research to understand the latest advancements in abrasive technology will help mill operators to make an informed decision about which wheels to use in the roll grinder. Abrasives manufacturers have made substantial improvements in grinding technology over the past decade, and the wheels used today are far more efficient than they were in the past. For example, new ceramic grains and advanced bond technologies can improve efficiency and result in better surface finish.

It’s a good idea to connect with your grinding wheel supplier to understand what will work best on a new or rebuilt grinder.

At Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives, customers can rely on the Application Engineering team. Norton application engineers can guide customers through the process, helping them to make the best decisions possible and help optimize a new system once installed.

Dan Goad is an Application Engineer III with expertise in roll grinding.
Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Worcester, Massachusetts, 508/795-9000,