Nucor Steel upgrades automation and drives in carbon steel plate mill with Primetals Technologies

  • Finishing end automation and drives system upgraded in North Carolina mill
  • Technical options include quality assurance system
  • New system installation expected by spring 2017

​Nucor Steel has selected Primetals Technologies to upgrade the automation and drives system in the finishing end of its carbon plate steel mill in Cofield, North Carolina, USA. Equipment in the finishing end includes the side trimmer, cold shear and plate piler. The project also contains an option for future implementation of a quality assurance system. The upgrade will be completed in May 2017.

Built in 2000, the Hertford County mill produces 1.6 million tons of carbon, alloy and high strength, low alloy steel plates including quenched and tempered and normalized steel plates. The plate mill produces plate for many products, including armored personnel carriers, railroad tank cars and bridges. Primetals Technologies will replace the mill’s existing drives and control system with Siemens drives, automation and human machine interface (HMI), a WinCC software system, and a level 2 automation system to control the mill’s side trimmer, cold shear, and shipment prep areas. Nucor is also considering an option to add a quality assurance solution with a character-recognition camera to validate customer data on metal plates.

A Fortune 500 company, Nucor is the largest manufacturer of steel products in North America, with approximately 200 operating facilities, including wholly owned subsidiaries Harris Steel, The David J. Joseph Company, and Skyline Steel, producing more than 21.1 million tons per year. Products include: carbon and alloy steel — in bars, beams, sheet and plate; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; steel fasteners; metals building systems; steel grating and expanded metal; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor is North America’s largest recycler.

Source: Primetals Technologies

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POSITIVE OUTLOOK FOR STAINLESS STEEL PRICES

Stainless steel transaction values climbed significantly, in November. MEPS All Products Average figure for grade 304 increased by 3.5 percent, month-on-month. The rise was predominantly due to the mills passing on to their customers their growing raw material costs, most notably for nickel. The metal’s price has been on an upward trend since September, with a sharp spike in the wake of the US presidential election.

Sentiment in the nickel market was positively affected, earlier in the year, by the actions of the Philippines government, closing several mines, on environmental grounds. Following on from Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports, this move suggested a likely tightening in supply, in the medium term. Both countries have confirmed, recently, that they will continue with their restrictions for the foreseeable future.

Although LME stocks remain at a comparatively high level, above 360,000 tonnes, an upturn in demand could lead to a supply deficit, with the consequent upward pressure on prices.

The LME nickel value soared in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States, as investors favoured commodities, such as metals, over stocks and shares. While many observers predicted that Mr. Trump’s election would engender economic chaos, the evidence suggests that his stated growth-friendly plans, such as corporate tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure spending, have been viewed positively by the markets.

In addition to economic growth, US stainless steelmakers are likely to be assisted by further protectionist measures, under the new regime.

Recent trade restraints, by the US, the European Union and others, have primarily targeted exports from China. The world’s biggest stainless steel producer has excess output capacity and more facilities are planned. With restricted access to overseas markets, China’s future strategy will have a major influence on the global supply/demand balance.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – November Issue

NORTH AMERICAN STRIP MILL PRODUCT STEEL PRICES POISED TO RISE – MEPS

The downward trajectory of US strip mill product steel prices came to an end, in November. MEPS’ research shows that local steelmakers achieved at least part of their proposed increases or, at worst, prevented domestic values slipping further.

Amid a weak trading environment, a number of US steel buyers initially labelled the mills’ proposed price hikes as a ‘defensive move’ to halt the downward pressure on steel transaction values. Surging raw material expenditure supported mill efforts. Supply from offshore sources is extremely limited, largely due to ongoing trade defence measures.

Many buyers remarked, previously, that uncertainty surrounding the US presidential election had created a negative impact on domestic steel demand. A number of significant public construction projects were put on hold.

From MEPS research, in November, the general consensus view from steel market participants is that Donald Trump’s Republican election victory will have positive implications for the US steel industry. The new president’s ‘America First’ policy will likely feature increased infrastructure spending, which will boost steel demand from the construction sector, in particular. The expected greater use of import protection measures will also safeguard the interests of US steelmakers against the dumping of cheap imports.

However, further trade barriers will restrict choice for the US consumer. By limiting offshore supply options, steel buyers are likely to struggle to purchase their material at competitive prices. Furthermore, a major aspect of the electoral campaign was a promise to renegotiate several trade deals. If the US goes against the ethos of free trade, both regionally and globally, then steel exporters, who focus heavily on the world market, will be particularly affected.

MEPS believes that US transaction values are likely to strengthen, in the near term. Supply-side cuts and a slight demand pickup could prompt price increases at the beginning of 2017.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review – November 2016 Issue

NUCOR-JFE STEEL MEXICO orders a hot-dip galvanizing line and recoiling line from SMS group

SMS group was awarded the order to supply a continuous hot-dip galvanizing line and a recoiling line for a new plant in Mexico by NUCOR-JFE STEEL MEXICO. The hot-dip galvanizing line will produce 400,000 tons of steel strips per year, most notably deep-drawing grades and high-strength steels for the automotive industry, including modern dual-phase steels. Further­more, the line is designed to process not only cold strip but also hot strip material. Startup is anticipated for the second half of 2019.NUCOR-JFE STEEL MEXICO is a 50-50 joint venture of Nucor Corporation, USA, and JFE Steel Corporation, Japan, which will build and operate the plant in central Mexico to supply that region’s automotive market. Besides the design and production of the mechanical equipment, the complete electrical and automation package also is within the supply scope of SMS group.

The hot-dip galvanizing line is designed for strips with a thickness of 0.4 to 2.6 millimeters and widths ranging from 800 to 1,880 millimeters. In the process section the strip will be coated with zinc at a process speed of up to 180 meters per minute, whereas in the entry and exit sections speeds of up to 280 meters per minute can be reached. The strip steel grades manufactured are mild steel, deep-drawing grades and high tensile strength steel. The surfaces of the strips will either be galvanized or galvannealed.

One highlight is the advanced furnace technology from Drever International which allows an economical production of high-strength material. The highly efficient combustion system features recuperative burners. Furthermore, the furnace consists of a powerful rapid gas jet cooling system, which offers upgrade possibilities. All furnace parameters and coil sequencing are controlled automatically by a mathematical/physical furnace model.

The cleaning section consists of efficient vertical electrolytic cleaning and rinsing cells and horizontal brushing machines. The skin pass mill ensures an optimized surface roughness and slight linear expansion. A vertical roll coater system with drying and cooling devices from Drever will be used for the chemical treatment of the coated surfaces.

In total, the new hot-dip galvanizing line consists of the following essential components: entry section with two uncoilers, welding machine, entry strip accumulator, cleaning section, radiant tube furnace, galvanizing section with zinc pot, intermediate accumulator, skin pass mill, vertical roll coater system, exit accumulator, side trimmer, inspection section, oiling machine, flying shear and two coilers.

The supply scope also includes a recoiling and inspection line. This line features pay-off reel, welding machine, side trimmer, inspection station, oiling machine, cut-to-length shear and upcoiler. It is also designed for strips with a thickness of 0.4 to 2.6 millimeters and widths ranging from 800 to 1,880 millimeters. The maximum line speed is 300 meters per Minute.

Source: SMS Group

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World´s largest HBI plant from Primetals Technologies and Midrex begins operation at voestalpine in Texas

  • Plant will produce two million metric tons of hot briquetted iron (HBI) per year
  • Order volume was in the three-digit million euro range

On October 26, the direct reduction HBI plant built by Primetals Technologies and consortium partner Midrex Technologies, Inc. was officially started-up in the presence of the voestalpine board after an effective construction phase of about two years. The Midrex direct reduction plant, located near the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA on the Gulf of Mexico. It is designed to produce two million metric tons of hot briquetted iron (HBI) per year, making it the largest single module of this type world-wide. The three-digit million euro range order was awarded to Primetals Technologies and Midrex Technologies Inc. in July 2013.

The consortium of Primetals Technologies and Midrex were responsible for engineering, supply of mechanical and electrical equipment and advisory services for the direct reduction plant. At the site near Corpus Christi in San Patricio County, voestalpine invested a three-digit million euro amount. This also included comprehensive infrastructure improvements for the project location, particularly the necessary port facilities.

The Midrex facility will produce high-quality HBI from iron ore pellets, which is comparable to the highest quality scrap or pig iron. Being charged to electric arc furnaces, converters or blast furnaces, HBI allows for the production of highest-quality steel grades. In contrast to the coal-based blast furnaces route, direct reduction only uses natural gas as the reducing agent, which is much more environmentally-friendly. This improves the carbon footprint of the voestalpine Group and is an important step in the achievement of the Group’s energy efficiency and climate protection objectives.

Source: Primentals Technologies

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INCREASED RAW MATERIAL COSTS PUSHING STEEL PRICES UPWARDS

According to MEPS (International) Ltd, the recent spike in coking coal costs gave support to the European steelmakers’ determined attempts to hike strip mill product prices, in November. Mill order books are relatively healthy and delivery lead times remain extended, although buyers seem less worried about availability, now. The proposed rises continue to be accepted, at least in part, but service centres are concerned because their customers are progressively more reluctant to accept higher prices. Trade defence measures, on both hot and cold rolled coil, together with higher prices demanded by many overseas suppliers, continue to restrict import volumes.

German manufacturing output is good, leading to solid steel demand. However, buyers complain that the improvement is not sufficient to justify current mill price hike proposals. German service centres are not fully recouping the steelmakers’ increases. Nevertheless, strip mill product basis values continue to advance as a result of restricted supply and extended delivery lead times. Buyers expect that steel will become more expensive as mill costs surge but are not convinced that producers will achieve their target figures.

Even though there is little change in French activity levels, prices continue to strengthen. Producers are looking to implement further increases. The auto industry is boosting demand, whilst the lack of imports limits supply. Mill delivery lead times stretch to the end of January. Buyers report that availability is constrained.

Activity in the Italian market is sluggish, with the exception of the vehicle manufacturing sector, which is running well. However, tight supply, resulting from a dearth of imported material, together with delayed deliveries from European mills, continues to force basis values up. Service centres cannot pass on the full amount of the hikes to end-users, which is limiting their profitability.

Significant upward price movements were noted in the UK, for February shipments. Buyers expect similar increases when March negotiations are concluded. Delivery lead times are long and there is a lack of competition from third country sources. Moreover, the pound sterling is weak. Distributors report good sales activity in October, with November starting well. The majority of service centres state that they continue to apply the mill increases to resale values. Stock levels remain low due to supply shortfalls.

Belgian demand is brisk. Domestic steelmakers have full order books, with very little competition from overseas suppliers. Prices continue on an upward trend. European producers appear confident that further increases can be secured. Deliveries are already into January/February 2017.

Spanish manufacturing output continued to grow, in October. Steel demand is relatively stable with great expectations for public investment now that a new government has, finally, been established. Service centre sales volumes are at an acceptable level but difficulties occur when distributors try to translate mill increases into the marketplace. Inventory levels are normal-to-low. Ongoing constrained supply led to higher basis numbers, in November. European producers wish to implement further increases. Competitively-priced products, from third country sources not affected by the current antidumping measures, have been purchased, for arrival February 2017. New offers from overseas are more expensive.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – November 2016 Issue