Automatic Alignment System

Prize: 10.000€

Status: completed


Our client is a company specialized in the manufacturing of steel products.

The goals of this company are a continuous improvement in terms of product quality, cost efficiency and customer service levels. 

The challenge

Our client has its own steel mill with a foundry.  

In this steel mill, once the spoon is filled with 60Tm of fluxed steel, it is taken by a bridge crane to the ingot molds, which are 5Tm molds where steel ingots are produced. In later processes of hot forming and cold heading, the steel ingots will become the final product: tubes or beams. 

Before filling up the ingot molds, the spoon is placed over the filling sprue, acting as an elevated funnel on which the steel is poured in to fill up the ingot molds. This process is intuitively performed by the crane operator, helped by a worker that indicates him the right position. Once the small hole at the bottom of the spoon is placed over the ingot molds’ filling sprue, the hole slightly opens and the steel casting is poured down.  If the position is correct, the pouring can continue by opening completely the hole at the bottom of the spoon. However, if the spoon is wrongly placed over the sprue, part of the casting will be poured out of the sprue and the spoon will need to be centered again to complete the filling process. 

Said process is performed 3 to 6 times per hour.

Both the sprue and the ingot molds are placed on top of a thick steel platform called “assembly plate” using a bridge crane, adding ceramic channels at the bottoms to link the ingot molds with the sprue. This entire system must be assembled before each casting and disassembled after. These “assembly plates” can be moved around on a track system (similar to railway tracks) in the steel mill. 

In order to finish completely the fluxed steel in the spoon, several “assembly plates” with ingot molds are placed for every 60Tm casting. 

What the client is looking for

Our client is looking for an automatic or semi-automatic alignment system that places the spoon over the sprue which eliminates any hazard. 

Besides, and regardless of the previous system, the client wants to re-apply the technology for that solution to create an alignment system that places the ingot molds over the “assembly plates”, which will semi-automate the assembly process with the bridge crane. 

Photos of the process are included. 

Evaluation Criteria

  • Technical solution
  • Feasibility evidence
  • Lower estimated costs

This is a 3-rounds tournament with the following submissions:

First round

A 3-page PDF document including:

  • Brief description / sketches of the proposed design.
  • Supporting evidence on how your proposal will solve the issues around
  • Materials cost.

In addition you can add an attached document to support your solution

Second round

  • Schematic 3D model installed
  • Detail process
  • Estimated costs.

If required, additional information will be provided during the course of this round.

Third round

  • Clarifications.


This is a 3 round tournament with the following timings

1st round – 6 weeks+ 2 weeks for evaluation

2nd round – 4 weeks + 2 weeks for evaluation

3rd round – 2 weeks + 1 week for evaluation

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