The article is the winner of the international competition for educational organizations "Digital Training of production personnel 2023"
in the nomination "The best article on the application of a training system."

  • Kyzylbaev Yerlan Kurmanbekovich
    Master of Technical Sciences, teacher of special disciplines,
    Temirtau Higher Polytechnic College
As you know, Temirtau is a city of metallurgists, and the metallurgical plant is a city-forming enterprise. The heart of the metallurgical process is smelting. The finished product depends on what components and type of furnace are used and the temperature. It is specialists in this type of metallurgy who create the "steel profile of Kazakhstan".
This is a dangerous and complex production — calculation of components, charge feeding, and temperature setting. That's why it's so difficult here for beginners. The furnaces are huge, and covered with casings, the metal melts at ultra-high temperatures. It is impossible to look at it from the inside.

When students find themselves practicing at the production site, it is clear that no one will allow them to operate the furnace. The equipment is expensive, and working in this type of metallurgy itself is dangerous. Errors in this production lead to huge costs. Who knows how much time it will take for a student to understand the operating principle of furnaces, the connection of parts, and the interrelation of processes? To become a specialist in this field, you need to conduct dozens of heats next to professionals, inspect the furnace parts hundreds of times, and feel the "hot breath" of molten metal. There is no other way.

Or is it still possible?

The college purchased hardware and software training complexes for all metallurgical furnaces: "Smelting steel in an oxygen converter", "Furnace-ladle unit", "Сirculation degassing unit", "Batch charger", "Smelting steel in a slab continuous casting machine" and "Smelting steel in a billet continuous casting machine". In addition, special 3D Atlases were purchased, with the help of which you can scale, rotate, and inspect any element of a furnace on a computer monitor. This equipment allows you to train specialists in the specialty "Ferrous Metals Metallurgy".
Here is the laboratory. There are 15 computers installed here on which software for the entire type of metallurgy is installed, namely:
"3D Atlases", " Charge calculations " and " Defects in metal workpieces ".
With the help of this program, students master every element of any furnace: a blast furnace, a converter, a continuous-casting machine, they know what it consists of, and they know the location of any part, that is, they know the structure and technological processes of each furnace. These atlases are designed for two modes: training mode and testing mode. That is, such atlases allow you to study the theoretical material in detail, each element of a furnace, each section, visually assimilate the material.

The task of metallurgists is to know the technology, the design of a furnace, how loading is done and to know the process itself. Suppose we are studying an oxygen converter. Here is a 3D section of a workshop, here you can rotate it, here is a list and description of the converter workshop objects. Click on any element of the converter. 3D Atlas opens it and shows where it is located.
Thanks to the 3D Atlas, you can look at a cross-section of a furnace, remove an element of the furnace by rotating it in space, view it from any angle, and you can remove a closed part. A student masters the material and works through the theory in each lesson, then independently undergoes testing for knowledge of some element. He or she selects any element of a furnace using the 3D Atlas and passes testing on it.
Imagine how educational the learning process becomes!
Has the theory been learned? Now we can move on to practice. The practice is hardware and software training complexes for metallurgical furnaces: "Smelting steel in an oxygen converter", "Furnace-ladle unit", "Сirculation degassing unit", "Batch charger", "Smelting steel in a slab continuous casting machine" and "Smelting steel in a billet continuous casting machine".
A complete simulation of melting is recreated on hardware and software simulators. It's comfortable, entertaining and safe. Every toggle switch, lever, and button obediently fulfills a student's wish, turning a furnace, dumping scrap, and filling up the charge. All data is displayed on a screen. An absolute illusion of the melting process, an instant reaction of the simulator to any change in conditions: tilting a furnace, the introduction of fluxes, an increase in temperature. You can track the consequences of each movement on the simulator remote control. This instant feedback builds awareness and responsibility for your every action. An experienced teacher who has completed courses on working with these simulators assists.

There is no fear, no anxiety, no fear of breaking or ruining something. There is only a growing sense of confidence, an improving maturity of movements and the formation of complete control of the situation, an understanding of what is happening inside the furnace at any moment of melting on a visual and mental level.

In this way, a student, a trainee, or a specialist who has come for retraining can master several types of furnaces that are part of any metallurgical production in the Republic of Kazakhstan, or in the world, since the models of these furnaces and their equipment were developed considering a standard metallurgical plant. This is a universal equipment specifically for this type of metallurgy.
The simulators have their specialization, and this will allow students to feel themselves managing different metallurgical processes. It is the same type, they are externally standard, but these simulators mimic different furnaces. All simulators have an animation zone and a control zone, that is, the technological process of any metallurgical furnace is simulated on a monitor using a mouse or control panel. The number of buttons on each simulator is different, they perform different functions.

This one is steel casting on a slab machine. This is after we get liquid steel, we have to get a slab. Now that's sintering – charge dosing. When the ore comes in, you have to calculate how much charge to feed. Here's the weighing machine. You need to select how much to feed, and the flow rate value per ton per hour.
This simulator is for steel smelting in an electric arc furnace. How is an electric arc furnace different from a converter?
The converter is where hot blast and oxygen are supplied to lances –100,000–200,000°C. Here we also obtain steel, but the operating principle of an electric arc furnace is carried out differently using electrodes and powerful transformers. Lower the electrodes – this is the tilt and so on.

Here is a circulation degassing furnace. This lever is the supply of argon, additional blast, to reduce the consumption of expensive materials. And, in addition, vacuum degassers can remove unnecessary impurities that affect the quality of the metal.

Here's a ladle furnace. An additional fluxing component can be added to the purge to remove unnecessary impurities or to match the steel grade required depending on the order.

And the last thing is a billet continuous-casting machine. There is a slab machine, and there is a billet machine. The slab has a rectangular cross-section, while the billet one has a square cross-section. It is slightly different, but both of them use a continuous casting machine. They have different cross-sections and, accordingly, they have different functions.
One digression should be made here.
The fact is that every teacher is a little in love with their subject. Yes, they know it well, and yes, they are getting better at it every year. But this is not enough.
They want students to love their subject, to see its completeness,
harmony of parts, interconnection. After all, the teacher was once passionate about the subject, and one wants to get students that way as well especially when it comes to a specialized discipline, a craft that will provide for a person for a lifetime.

What moral satisfaction do teachers experience when they see that a student has understood everything about the subject and is passionate about it? When they realized all the details of the metallurgical process, comprehended all the data, their causes, and consequences.
Can you imagine students' feelings when they sit down at the simulator and manage the steel smelting along with their teacher?
As a master of technical sciences, as a teacher, and as a tutor, I see that my mission has been accomplished. My favorite subject, my specialty discipline becomes for students their own, understandable, tangible. The totality of all components of the metallurgical process, their interrelation and interdependence are shown, and now the student's eyes light up. It's not just the levers and toggle switches on the simulator that light up, it's the love for the subject I teach, sincere interest, and admiration for the process!

Thanks to these simulators, a teacher can take a back seat. Yes, they are there for you, they are a safety net, but all responsibility for the result rests with students. This is no longer reality, this is life. Modern students spend a lot of time playing video games. It's not just a game, it's a metallurgical process.

All this software allows you to make the educational process as close as possible to production conditions, diversify practical classes, make it more interesting to conduct career guidance work, training seminars for production workers, and prepare participants for World Skills competitions (worldwide competitions in technical specialties).
In addition, simulators and 3D Atlases will allow you to prepare course projects of a completely new quality; in the future, this equipment will help you conduct a DEMO exam.
The DEMO exam is carried out in two stages: first, theoretical material is worked out, then theoretical skills should be confirmed at the practical stage, where students are given a task, and they perform it in the presence of a commission. The commission consists of plant employees, managers, and deputy heads of workshops. And students must show results.
Simulators and 3D Atlases are in the Competence Center of the Temirtau Higher Polytechnic College and will contribute to the retraining of specialists, those who are already working at a plant and need advanced training.
The center is designed to retrain specialists for a city, for a region, and not just for college students. A certificate is issued. Such centers provide working qualifications; this is the minimum level. And the maximum one is given in production. That is, based on such knowledge, a specialist can further grow.

With additional funding allocated to the "Zhas Maman" program, printers, laptops, computers, and a grinding and polishing machine were purchased.

When metal samples are taken, a retort furnace is used, which allows the temperature to be raised to 1100°C. There, the sample taken is melted, ground, and polished, and then the structure of the metal is examined on microscopes.

Here is a hardness tester that can be used to determine the hardness of a metal according to Rockwell and Brinelli. This is metal science, this subject is also important for metallurgists.

Furnaces are pyrometallurgy, which is carried out at high temperatures. That is, not only do we study the furnace in cross-section, in a 3D Atlas, but we also simulate the technological process on simulators, and we also conduct a qualitative chemical analysis of what is at the output. This is highly scientific, high-precision equipment at the interface with chemistry, and most likely there will be cooperation that will allow students to thoroughly know all the chemical processes occurring in this furnace and conduct experiments.

Modern equipment purchased by the Temirtau Higher Polytechnic College is aimed not only at students mastering practical classes that will allow them to examine any furnace in detail, know the technology of the smelting process, select the steel grade, calculate the composition of the charge and fully manage the technology, automation of the technological process, but also allows conducting courses among the unemployed population, as well as retraining courses in working specialties, such as "Blast furnace operator", "Stove operator", "Continuous casting machine operator", "Converter loading operator", "Converter steelmaker's helper", "Converter steelmaker", "Smelter of all names," that is, this equipment will allow retraining the population and, accordingly, issuing certificates confirming the completed course.