The investments will help the steel producer strengthen its position as technology leader for premium flat-rolled carbon steel products. The modernization will also secure sites and jobs in the Rhine- Ruhr area.
Hot-rolled strip is the basis for all ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe's flat steel products. The company operates four hot strip mills with a total annual capacity of around 15 million metric tons. Hot strip mills 1 and 2 are located at the Duisburg site, along with a casting-rolling line that also produces hot-rolled. Hot strip mill 3 is in Bochum. To produce hot strip, steel slabs are rolled into thin strip in a series of mill stands at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. The material is either used by customers directly or further processed at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe.
Among other things, the hot strip mills now to be modernized produce lightweight steels for the automotive industry, starting material for tinplate - which is 100% recyclable and is used to make food and beverage cans - as well as steels for oil and gas pipelines. Other products include starting material for electrical steel, which is used for example in wind turbines, in hybrid engines for cars and transformers, where it ensures extremely efficient power transmission. For these steel grades, precision dimensions and consistent, carefully controlled properties along the entire length of the strip are of key importance.
One of the focuses of the investment program is hot strip mill 1, which has an annual capacity of around three million metric tons. The mill will be equipped with profile, contour and flatness control systems to ensure highly consistent and precise dimensions over the full length and width of the hot strip. The strip cooling system will also be replaced. The cooling process exerts a major influence on the properties of the steel, such as its strength and formability. The furnaces used to heat the steel slabs to rolling temperature will be fitted in part with new burners. These will reduce heating times and require less energy. The upgrade program also includes new roll drives and a new computer control system for the entire mill train.
A new accelerated cooling system is currently being installed on hot strip mill 2 at the Duisburg-Beeckerwerth plant. Among other things, this will permit ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe to expand its range of high-strength steels for oil and gas pipelines. Additional investments will go into a new computer control system for the roughing and finishing mills and into equipping further roll drives with new, large motors. The transportation and storage facilities for finished hot-rolled coils will also be replaced. At hot strip mill 3 in Bochum, a new cooling line is to be installed for more exact temperature control as well as new rolling equipment for enhanced dimensional accuracy.
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe has already invested 180 million euros in expanding hot strip mills 2 and 3 since 2006, creating additional capacities to handle two million tons of slabs per year from ThyssenKrupp's new steel mill in Brazil. "Our current hot strip program will enable us to improve our performance further still, also in terms of quality," says Dr. Ulrich Jaroni, the Executive Board member of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG responsible for production operations. "We are also expanding our range of high-end products, which help protect the environment and conserve resources. This is a further clear commitment to Germany as a production location, where we will only be successful if we provide first-class quality."