An investment in efficiency and a green future
Steeltec has invested 60 million Euros in the Emmenbrücke site
Lucerne/Emmenbrücke. Electric steel specialist Steeltec, a company belonging to the Swiss Steel Group, has invested around 60 million Euros in a new walking beam furnace as well as in other plant technology at their rolling mill in Emmenbrücke, Switzerland and has thus made one of the largest investments in recent years for the company as well as the entire Swiss Steel Group.
The new furnace allows the rolling mill and its customers to profit considerably from an increase in efficiency and consistently ensures greater sustainability. Higher ring weights and much more homogenous quality of the rolled steel products are the result. Thanks to greater specialization, the furnace is very efficient in its use of its fuel, gas. It has been in operation since September 2021. Like its predecessor, it is a gas-fired walking beam furnace that continuously heats the billets from Steeltec’s own steel mill.
“The investment has given us greater productivity and better quality, allowing us to better meet the demands of our customers. With the previous furnace that is over 40 years old we were only able to process steel billets weighing 1.8 t, 11 m long and a profile of 152 x 152 mm,” explains Dr. Florian Geiger, Steeltec’s CEO. “The new plant technology, however, currently heats billets weighing up to 2.3 tons and 13 m long.”
Sustainability and increased efficiency
Due to the longer and heavier products, there is much less process waste both during rolling as well as for the customer during further processing. The customers’ machines also require less adjusting thanks to the longer raw materials with the same material quantity. The annual steel throughput at the rolling mill increases by around 5,000 t due to the longer and heavier billets. Overall, the new furnace can heat a maximum of 150 t of steel to up 1300 degrees every hour. The rolling mill processes almost 200 different steel grades at temperatures between 1100 and 1250 degrees.
From an ecological perspective, the new furnace is a considerable advance. Despite increased capacity and larger volumes, it uses almost 13 percent less gas than the old technology. Process heat from the furnace is first used to preheat the billets once they’ve entered the furnace. As large a portion of the remaining waste heat as possible is then fed into the local district heating network of the city of Lucerne. In total, Steeltec has reduced their CO2 emissions with the innovations at the rolling mill by just under 10% annually.
Frank Koch, CEO at Swiss Steel Group Holding AG, explains: “The innovation is groundbreaking for us: We are thus in line with the Swiss Steel Group’s strategy to position the Group in the sector of sustainable steel production.” Steeltec is already one of Switzerland’s largest recycling companies and processes around 680,000 tons of steel scrap every year to produce engineering and free-cutting steel (QEA). Around 60% of the scrap used stems from Switzerland, the rest from neighboring countries. “As is the case at the Swiss Steel Group, we at Steeltec are also aware of our responsibility to the environment and society,” says Dr. Florian Geiger. “The increase in efficiency from the steel melt to bright steel production was always part of our corporate DNA and has made us one of the most environmentally efficient steel producers in our class. When all production areas are considered, Steeltec’s carbon footprint is around 90% lower than those of the worldwide branch average.”
Additional modernization measures
Implementation of the new walking beam furnace has sparked further modernization steps in Emmenbrücke. In addition to the furnace and the new induction technology, Steeltec has procured two new Garrett reels and controlled cooling for the finished rolled wire coils. The diameter of these rolled products in round or hexagonal profiles is up to 50 mm and is wound onto a reel into coils of up to 1440 mm in diameter and a maximum of three tons. In the subsequent controlled cooling section, the rings are subjected to controlled cooling at 16 positions with blown air from below. The cooling process is slow, uniform, controlled and can be adjusted individually for each steel grade.
Further investments planned
The most recent investments are a commitment to the Emmenbrücke site and of Switzerland as a center of industry. At the same time, these investments pave the way for the plant’s further modernization steps. The new walking beam furnace was moved back 100 meters to create space to extend the rolling train and puts the company in a position to offer an even greater range of products and flexibility.
For Steeltec it is important to always remain at the forefront of what is technically feasible: “Our customers appreciate our great flexibility, high delivery reliability and Swiss punctuality. Together with our customers, we also solve very near-term challenges at a high level of quality,” says Dr. Geiger. “It is our wish to preserve and expand on this advantage of flexibility and the great variety of products.”
For further information:
Anina Berger, a.berger(at)swisssteelgroup.com, Phone +41 (0)41 581 4121
Steeltec produces quality, engineering and free-cutting steel as well as special bright steel for the automotive, machinery, hydraulics and apparatus engineering industries. The largest production site is at Emmenbrücke in Switzerland with a steel and rolling mill as well as two bright steel plants and around 750 employees. Another 250 people are employed in production and sales units in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Turkey. To produce long steel products, Steeltec recycles 650,000 tons of steel scrap every year. This is over half of the scrap produced in Switzerland and makes Steeltec one of the largest stakeholders in the recycling economy. The company is part of the Swiss Steel Group with its headquarters in Lucerne. The Group has 10,000 employees in over 30 countries.
About Swiss Steel Group
The Swiss Steel Group today is one of the world’s leading providers of individual solutions in the special long steel products sector. The Group is one of the leading manufacturers of tool steel and non-corrosive long steel on the global market and one of the two largest companies in Europe for alloyed and high-alloyed constructional steel. With close to 10,000 employees and in-house production and distribution companies in over 30 countries and on 5 continents, the company guarantees its customers a global supply and customer service, and offers them a complete production portfolio as well as sales and services around the world. They benefit from the company’s technological expertise, the consistently high product quality around the world and detailed knowledge of local markets.