SteelLab: Standard automation for OES analysis

The state-of-the-art solution for fully-automatic sample prearation and analysis- Small footprint, high configurability and flexibility

Area of application

Sample preparation and analysis of steel samples by milling and optical emission spectroscopy
Steel, pig iron and nonferrous samples, diameter up to 50 mm, round or with parallel surfaces
Operation mode
Robot automation


Compact design
The HERZOG SteelLab is the state-of-the-art solution for automatic optical emission spectroscopic analysis of steel samples. The SteelLab stands out for its small footprint, high configurability and flexibility. The SteelLab is available in either stand-alone configuration or as integral component of larger-scale steel automations.
Applicable as an autonomous unit
In stand-alone configuration, the SteelLab includes a milling or grinding machine for sample preparation before analysis. The SteelLab fits into a standard size container (y x z m) and can be stored next to the production site to allow immediate analysis. The operator registers the production sample using the registration terminal outside of the container and inserts the sample via an input flap. Depending on the SteelLab design, the sample can either be inserted into the milling machine HS-F 1000 or into the robot cell by an input magazine. As a matter of course, the SteelLab is available without container housing for installation in any locations appropriate for analytical purposes.
Easy to integrate in larger-scale steel automations
In larger-scale steel automations, the SteelLab is usually connected to the sample preparation circuit. The SteelLab receives the prepared production sample and performs a fully-automatic OES analysis. The SteelLab design is customizable with two basic variants. In the first variant, the SteelLab robot has direct access to the milling machine, picks up the prepared sample from the transfer position and transports it to the OES. In the second variant, the sample is milled in the sample preparation circuit and then forwarded to the SteelLab by robot or conveyor belt.
Optimized for best analytical performance
The functions of the SteelLab have been streamlined to guarantee the highest possible analytical performance as well as fastest possible sample preparation and analysis time. Furthermore, the mechanical systems and automation software have been optimized to reduce the operator’s intervention to a minimum.


The SteelLab offers the following standard and optional functions:

Handling of production samples

  • Management of priority samples: The control software PrepMaster Entry allows the easy definition of production samples with high priority for sample preparation and analysis. As a consequence, these samples are given preferential treatment over normal-priority samples.
  • Buffer magazine: The buffer magazine is part of the standard equipment and allows temporary storage of introduced production samples. Interim buffering might become necessary if several samples are registered in a short period of time or processing of the recent sample is delayed due to specific analytical circumstances. The PrepMaster screen displays clearly the samples waiting for processing. The number of buffer magazine positions is scalable according to the requirements of each customer.
  • Archive magazines: After completion of analysis, production samples can be sorted in different pull-out boxes. The PrepMaster automatically monitors the number of samples within the boxes and issues a warning in case of overfilling. Alternatively, the samples can be transported to a central archive magazine integrated in larger-scale automations.

Handling of recalibration and control samples

  • Configuration of samples: The PrepMaster software provides powerful tools for configuration of recalibration and control samples. Based on the sample diameter, the operator can determine the number and spatial distribution of spark points on the surface, the order of sparking, the period of time before re-milling of the sample surface and more.
  • Administration of samples: The PrepMaster software monitors all relevant key data of recalibration and control samples like, e.g., sample height and number of free spark positions. The sample height is measured within the milling or grinding machine and the value is transferred automatically to the PrepMaster. All data are easy accessible and clearly presented. Generally, the number of recalibration and control samples that can be administered is infinite and only limited by the available space.
  • Scheduling of monitor samples: It is very easy for the operator to configure daily, weekly and other cyclic plans for analysis of control samples. In order to facilitate the management, various control samples can be summarized in groups. The outcome of the control sample analysis determines whether and which kind of recalibration is necessary.
  • Various recalibration strategies: The PrepMaster can initiate both a full or selective recalibration. Selective recalibration will be initiated if only some instrument channels are out of limits. Full calibration might become necessary if more channels are out of limits or selective recalibration fails. The operator can choose whether incoming production samples will be processed between setting-up samples. Otherwise, production samples will be blocked until the instrument is again under control.

Registration of samples

  • Connection to level-2-system: The PrepMaster sets up an interface to the superordinate level-2-system for receiving the sample identification. The PrepMaster contains all standard interfaces commonly used in steel plants. In the rare occasion that the customer’s ID protocol is not available in the default settings of the PrepMaster it can be integrated without problems. If an interface to the level-2-system is not necessary the sample ID can be typed manually, read by a barcode scanner or chosen from a proposal list generated by the PrepMaster.
  • Different registration devices: The samples can be registered using different HMI’s like, e.g., input terminal in the container wall, registration PC or PrepMaster PC.


  • Generation of worksheets: In order to have full control of all processes for sample preparation and analysis, the operator can generate, modify or delete worksheets of all samples types. Editing of worksheets is simple and can be done by every authorized operator.
  • Overview about worksheets: The PrepMaster provides a comprehensive overview about all worksheets including history as well as scheduled preparation and analytical steps of each sample in the system.


Vision-based Spark point determination
Optionally, a vision system can be integrated for automatic spark point determination. The operator can define criteria for inclusion or exclusion of sample surface areas from analysis. Furthermore, it is possible to specify primary and second-tier ROI’s used for analysis. As a matter of course, the robot shifts the sample between sparks automatically and precisely. If no appropriate analysis sector is available the sample is remilled or discharged from the system whatever is specified in the PrepMaster settings.
Marking of production samples
After completion of analysis, production samples might be marked for archive purposes. The SteelLab system offers various marking systems including wax printer, dot-matrix printer or label printer.
Stand table and electrode cleaning
The optical emission spectrometer may not include an automatic spark stand cleaning. In these cases, HERZOG can offer a cleaning device that can be easily mounted on the OES. The spark stand cleaning provides a thorough cleaning of the electrode and the surrounding stand table without involving the robot. The cleaning parameters can be easily controlled using the PrepMaster software.
Radioactivity detection system
As an option, a radioactivity detection system can be integrated into the SteelLab.

HERZOG SteelLab Container 1

HERZOG SteelLab Container 2