The EU’s recently announced temporary quotas and tariffs on steel imports, arising from the Commission’s safeguarding investigation, might have been expected to push prices of stainless steel upward, in the European market. However, some buyers have chosen to expand their placement of import orders, in the short term, to maximise their own intake of low priced material, before quotas are exhausted. This has the effect of reducing demand for locally produced material and, thereby, places downward pressure on prices.
This should be short-lived. Many stainless steel buyers are wary that, given the long delivery lead times on orders from, for example, the Far East, material ordered now could arrive in Europe after the appropriate quota has been filled and, therefore, incur tariff charges. Consequently, they are more likely to source their requirements from European mills – in turn, applying inflationary pressure, in the regional market.
Arlenico SpA and Feralpi Siderurgica SpA, two key Italian wire rod producers, have each ordered a four-stand MEERdrive®PLUS finishing block from SMS group within one week. Both wire-rod finishing blocks will be integrated in the companies’ existing plants.
Arlenico, part of the Duferco Italia Holding, a special quality wire rod producer located beside the Lecco Lake, chose the four-stand MEERdrive®PLUS block to be installed in the existing wire rod line at its Caleotto plant. This will allow the company to serve the market with products of the tightest tolerances ever produced, as thanks to the heavy-duty machine supplied by SMS group and a sophisticated water cooling line included in the project, it will for the first time be able to apply the thermomechanical rolling process.
Feralpi, producer of rebar and wire rod for construction in Italy, located beside the Garda Lake, is investing in the four-stand MEERdrive®PLUS block in order to increase production and the rolling speed and be able to extend the size range produced and achieve enhanced final mechanical properties. Also in this case a sophisticated water cooling line will serve the four-passes wire rod sizing block.
MEERdrive®PLUS is a variant of the MEERdrive® technology, a revolutionary drive concept for modern wire rod production. It uses individual drives with small low-voltage motors for each stand. Since all finished sizes are rolled in the MEERdrive®PLUS block, it is possible to realize “one-family rolling” in the rolling mill reducing the otherwise required mill downtimes for size and ring changing.
The MEERdrive®PLUS blocks, which will both be installed after an existing ten-passes block, will be four-stand “oval-round-round-round” sizing blocks, capable of rolling wire rod diameters from 4.5 millimeters up to 27 millimeters at speeds up to 120 meters per second – also at a temperature as low as 750 degrees centigrade. Excellent tolerances down to 0.05 millimeters and 50 percent ovality can be achieved.
These two new finishing blocks to be supplied to Arlenico and Feralpi are references number eleven and twelve, documenting the long success story of the MEERdrive® technology which started with block number one supplied to Sinobras in 2007. Arlenico and Feralpi will benefit from a wide range of outstanding economical and operational advantages. For example, it will be possible to reduce the required roll inventory to a minimum.
SMS group is a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It has some 13,500 employees who generate worldwide sales of more than EUR 3 billion. The sole owner of the holding company SMS GmbH is the Familie Weiss Foundation.
International technology group ANDRITZ has successfully improved performance of the annealing and pickling line for stainless steel strip at Fuxin Special Steel Co., Ltd, Fujian Province, China.
Based on proven software and algorithms developed by ANDRITZ, the operating and process data of the plant were analyzed, and some bottlenecks were identified. After implementation of the necessary changes, the capacity of the line was increased by 15%, with virtually no additional capital investment. This extraordinary improvement once again demonstrates the expertise and know-how of ANDRITZ in optimizing the production performance of plants in the metals industry, based on digital products and software developed by ANDRITZ.
ANDRITZ has combined all of its digitalization activities under the Metris umbrella brand. Metris encompasses innovative IIoT products largely relating to optimization of plants and processes by combining sensors, complex data analysis, and augmented reality. Smart service offerings, such as an online spare part catalog, as well as research and development work on digital solutions that provide added value to the customer complete the comprehensive ANDRITZ product offerings in the digitalization sector.
Fuxin Special Steel Co., Ltd. is an integrated stainless steel manufacturer that covers steel making, casting, and hot rolling, as well as hot strip annealing and pickling.
According to MEPS, hot rolled coil transaction figures are largely unchanged across the Nordic region. Demand from the construction sector is strong in some areas. In Finland, producers continue to seek substantial price hikes but customers are resisting. They may have to concede a rise next month.
Consumption of hot rolled plate is satisfactory. We have reports of increased selling figures bring proposed for May/June deliveries in Finland. However, we have no confirmation of deals being agreed at these new levels.
Supply of cold rolled material is tight. Major EU mills are fully booked until June. Many buyers are sourcing material from outside Europe. Delivery lead times are extending. Buyers expect increased values for second quarter contracts.
Delivery lead times for coated coil are long. Supply problems were amplified by the threat of antidumping action, with purchasers wary of buying from China and Russia. Further price hikes are foreseen.
Demand for wire rod is reported to be steady. Steelmakers’ scrap costs have risen. Consequently, buyers believe that an uptick in selling values is likely, in the near term.
Sales tonnages for rebar are healthy. Construction activity is at a high level, especially in Sweden. Tight scrap supply led to price increases in some countries. Buyers foresee selling values climbing in the near future.
Plant to be fitted with new automation and drives technology
Further improvements to availability and product quality
New technology will increase energy efficiency and cut maintenance costs
“RollMaster” to handle generation and management of pass schedules
Primetals Technologies has won an order from Böhler Edelstahl GmbH & Co KG (Böhler Edelstahl), a company of the Special Steel Division of voestalpine, to modernize the flat rolling block at its Kapfenberg plant in Austria. The plant will be equipped with a new drives- and automationsystem. The “RollMaster”, specially developed for long product rolling mills, will handle the generation and management of the pass schedules. The project is designed to increase plant availability, improve product quality, boost energy efficiency and cut maintenance costs. Modernization work is scheduled to take place during a one-month plant shutdown mid-2017.
The flat rolling block consists of three horizontal and two vertical stands, and produces flat bars in widths ranging from 43 to 205 millimeters and in thicknesses from 4.5 to 86 millimeters. A hydraulic drive system and a now obsolete, proprietary automation system have been in use since commissioning in 1988. Spare parts supply and adequate servicing can no longer be ensured. Böhler Edelstahl therefore decided to ask Primetals Technologies to completely modernize the automation and drives system. In previous years, Primetals Technologies has equipped the continuous rolling mill in the multiline rolling mill and the roughing stand of the blooming mill with new automation and drives technology, and supplied new drives for the six-stand HV-combination mill.
Primetals Technologies will be supplying new main and auxiliary drives with Sinamics S120 frequency converters, a new operator control and monitoring system based on Simatic PCS7, and new main gearboxes. The elimination of the hydraulic systems will reduce maintenance costs and increase plant availability which, in turn, will boost the productivity of the rolling line. Energy requirements as well as the consumption of hydraulic oil and cooling water will fall substantially. In future the “RollMaster”, specially designed for long product rolling mills, will handle the generation and management of the pass schedules. This software is the link between the production planning system and the plant automation. Primetals Technologies will also handle engineering, manufacturing, commissioning and customer training.
Böhler Edelstahl employs more than 2,000 people, and produced some 162,000 metric tons of steel in fiscal 2016. The company specializes in the production of long products and open-die forgings made of tool steel, high-speed steel, special materials and nickel-based alloys. Böhler Edelstahl GmbH & Co KG was founded in 1991 and is a wholly owned subsidiary company of voestalpine Edelstahl GmbH.
SMS group has received an order to provide additional equipment for a galvanizing furnace installed in the Calvert plant of AM/NS in Alabama, U.S.A. The equipment will be retrofitted to the hot-dip galvanizing line No. 3 (HDGL3) erected by SMS group. The modification will enable the furnace to process 3rd generation Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS). This order was awarded to Drever International, a company of SMS group. The supply scope consists of additional seal roll assemblies, new deflector roll boxes, induction heaters, a partitioning section, a final cooling section and an exit section with a hot bridle. The installation will give AM/NS Calvert the possibility to apply the quench and partitioning process, which allows a two-step thermal treatment. The equipment will be installed and commissioned at the end of 2016.
The SMS group is a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. Its 14,000 employees generate sales of over EUR 3.3 bn.