Tata Steel officially commissioned a new continuous caster at its steel plant in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, in the presence of Arthur van Dijk, representative of the Royal Family in the province of North Holland.With an investment totalling 220 million Euros it represents the largest and most significant project undertaken in the steel manufacturing process at Tata Steel IJmuiden in the 21st Century. With this new facility an even wider range of innovative steels, including high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels can be produced. Car manufacturers, for example, use these steels to build lighter, more fuel efficient and safer vehicles. The large-scale construction project was implemented during ongoing operations.
Tata Steel's factory in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, is considered one of the most modern in Europe and it produces more than seven million tonnes of steel per year which are mainly used to serve customers in the automotive, construction, engineering and packaging industry. This steel is also integrated in batteries, tubes, industrial vehicles and white goods such as refrigerators. Tata Steel already has two continuous casters in IJmuiden in use. The new third caster is the centerpiece of Tata Steel's strategic investment program in IJmuiden, which aims to better position the company to meet future growth in demand for quality steels.
The investment programme covers parts of the entire production chain, stretching from the blast furnace to the hot strip mill and includes the cold mill, galvanising lines and the steel packaging plant. Further, Tata Steel had only recently announced that it will adopt a hydrogen route on its way to green steel.
The new continuous caster features an advanced ingot mold, a cooling system that prevents cracks in the slab, innovative temperature control and 2,500 temperature measurement points for optimised flow and controlled solidification of the slabs. The temperature is measured with glass fibre technology - this is a world first in steel production. Other unique technical capabilities including dynamic soft reduction and soft and dry cooling enable the production of entirely new steel grades.
The plant is extremely effective in preventing tiny cracks and other defects in the steel surface. It also eliminates a lot of the waste from yield losses that can otherwise occur during steel processing. Since less scrap is generated, the process produces fewer emissions. Another advantage of the new plant: the condition of all plant components is continuously monitored by a system of sensors, so that maintenance can be carried out at exactly the right time. Advanced, customised servicing means less unexpected downtime and more efficiency in production. In addition, special technologies are used that allow parts to be replaced easily and safely. With the commissioning of a third continuous caster Tata Steel can now produce slabs continuously on two casters while a third is being maintained.
Construction project of unprecedented scale The new continuous caster at the IJmuiden factory is close to 35 metres in length. There is a height difference of about 12.5 metres between the point where the liquid steel is poured into the plant and the point where the slab is cut (one floor down in the plant). The produced slabs are between 8 and 12 metres in length and 22.5 cm thick. During construction, an excavation pit 40 metres in width, 195 metres in length and 14 metres in depth was dug in the IJmuiden steel plant.
For the foundations, 12 000 m³ of concrete were poured and about 2 million kg of steel were processed. An entire workshop was relocated, production halls were extended or newly built and a supporting column in the steel plant - which was in full operation - was moved to make room for the new facility. For the latter, Tata Steel received the Dutch 'Nationale Staalprijs 2018' (National Steel Award 2018) while the caster was still under construction.
At peak times, up to 200 construction workers were working at the same time.
"I am very proud that we are commissioning the world's most modern continuous caster here in IJmuiden, enabling us to produce the best quality steel for our customers." said Hans van den Berg, CEO of Tata Steel Netherlands.
"With this plant we will produce even stronger and more durable steel in the future. This will allow us to stand out from the competition and consolidate our position at the top of the steel world. I would like to thank everyone who helped build this huge facility in a steel plant under full operation. It was truly a gigantic task!"