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Oct 1, 2021

The world’s fastest stripping machine enables productivity increase at the Uralelectromed tankhouse

Advanced robotic cathode stripping machine developed by Metso Outotec maintains high speed in unsupported cathodes handling at copper tankhouse.
cathode stripping machine
Photo by Vitaliy Khailov, Provided by JSC Uralelectromed


Uralelectromed, a part of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) is the largest copper producer in Russia. The tankhouse is located in the Ural region of Russia and has been in operation since 1934. UMMC is one of the top Russian producers of major commodities, including copper, zinc, coal, gold and silver. The company operates 40 companies situated in Russia and employs over 80,000 people.

Metso Outotec and Uralelectromed have been working together since the 1970s. Outokumpu, the predecessor of Outotec (the latter became Metso Outotec after the merger in June 2020) delivered Uralelectromed’s first anode casting and starting sheet machines. In 2005, Outotec completed the conceptual and basic engineering work for Uralelectromed’s new tankhouse, and in 2007 started the delivery of the main equipment.

cathode stripping machine
Photo by Vitaliy Khailov, Provided by JSC Uralelectromed

Uralelectromed aimed to increase production capacity

In 2012, Uralelectromed launched the first section of the tankhouse with advanced tankhouse technology delivered by Metso Outotec. This included anode and cathode handling equipment, permanent cathodes, LSF polishing filters and a comprehensive process control system with advanced tankhouse automation including tankhouse information management system (TIMS) and CellSense for electrolyte voltage and temperature monitoring.

In 2018 the second section of the tankhouse was commissioned. With the commissioning of the second section of the tankhouse, Uralelectomed increased annual design capacity from 160.000 tpa Cu to 320.000 tpa. One more cathode stripping machine was delivered by Metso Outotec for the second section. Currently, the third section is being constructed. Metso Outotec will deliver anode preparation and anode scrap washing machines as well as LSF filter.

Robotic cathode stripping machine increases production and the utilization rate of the main equipment

Experts from Metso Outotec consulted Uralelectromed specialists and provided conceptual engineering for the new generation machine. Metso Outotec applied innovative solutions to ensure production increase according to the customer’s requirements. The new cathode stripping machine was equipped with robotic technology. The machine performed the same functions, such as the washing of cathodes, stripping, sampling to determine the chemical composition, bundling with a steel strap. New six robot design enables a higher cathode handling capacity of 630 cathodes/hour, which is 40% higher than conventional cathode stripping machines, which are typically reaching 450 cathodes/hour.

Each robot is comprised of an arm with a dedicated grabbing device. Four of the robots are engaged in stripping of the cathode deposit, and two others are handling copper cathodes stacking. The machine has also a cathode corrugation unit with a press force of 300 tons. Corrugation is beneficial for cathodes melting in shaft furnace during copper wire rod production. Corrugation provides air passageways in a stack, which accelerates cathodes heating in a furnace shaft and shortens the time for melting.

The key reason to use these machines is to take care of the cathodes, as this solution has proven to be softer to the plates. But another goal for Uralelectromed was to have a high utilization factor, and to have as little service and stops as possible in the production. We wanted to help them achieve this.”
Gustav Kilden – VP, Metals Refining at Metso Outotec
robotic cathode stripping machine
Photo by Vitaliy Khailov, Provided by JSC Uralelectromed

Innovative solutions lead to revolutionary results

The use of robotic technology has completely accelerated the stripping process. The actual capacity can be maintained over 600 cathodes per hour, which means that under normal circumstances, cathode stripping will not create a bottleneck in the material handling flow.

Along with a smooth-running system, the features of this new streamlined equipment provide extra advantages as well.

Not only is there an increase in the productivity of stripping cathodes operations, but also an increase in reliability, availability, and uptime with minimized wear to the permanent cathodes. The high level of automation minimizes the need for physical work and maintenance, thus decreasing risk or potential safety hazards. The efficient copper stripping tools minimize production stops and improves the overall equipment efficiency (OEE rate).
Alexey Korolev, chief engineer JSC “Uralelectromed”

“Customers have high demands on redundancy functions, and if something breaks down, they need to be able to move around the machine if one robot breaks,” says Max Schmidt – Senior Sales Manager at Metso Outotec. “For us to make the design work around that while incorporating so many robots was a big challenge. But it worked, and now Uralelectromed has a very nice machine that’s running very smoothly.”

Here at Metso Outotec, we recognize that there is strength in partnerships. Working together on cutting-edge technology and empowering our customers is what fuels our innovations. That’s why, together, we are the partner for positive change.

If you wish to learn more about the full deposit robot stripping machine, visit https://www.mogroup.com/portfolio/full-deposit-robot-stripping-machine/ or contact our local Metso Outotec representative at https://www.mogroup.com/contact/.

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