Ijmuiden: Largest investment of the century by Tata Steel in Europe

by David Fleschen

On Thursday (October 21), Tata Steel officially commissioned a new continuous caster at its steelworks in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, in the presence of Arthur van Dijk, representative of the Royal House in the province of North Holland. At 220 million euros, it is Tata Steel's largest and most important investment in its production facilities in IJmuiden so far in the 21st century. The new facility will enable the production of an even wider range of innovative steels, including high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels. Automotive manufacturers, for example, can use these steels to build lighter, more fuel-efficient and safer vehicles. The major construction project was implemented during ongoing operations.

Tata Steel's steel mill in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, is one of the most modern in Europe and produces more than seven million tons of steel a year. This is mainly used in the automotive, construction, engineering and packaging industries. The material is also used in batteries, pipes, industrial vehicles and white goods such as refrigerators. Tata Steel already has two continuous casters in IJmuiden. The new third continuous caster is the centerpiece of Tata Steel's strategic investment program in IJmuiden, which aims to position the company even better to meet the growing future demand for quality steels. The investment program covers parts of the entire production chain: from the blast furnace to the hot and cold rolling mills to the hot-dip galvanizing and packaging steel lines. For example, Tata Steel had only recently announced its intention to go down the hydrogen route on its way to green steel.

The new continuous caster features an advanced mold, a cooling system that prevents cracks in the slab, innovative temperature control, and 2,500 temperature measurement points for optimized flow and controlled solidification of the slabs. The temperature is measured using fiber optic technology - a world first in steel production. Other unique technical capabilities such as dynamic soft reduction and soft and dry cooling enable the production of completely new steel grades. The plant is extremely effective in preventing small cracks and other defects in the steel surface. It also eliminates much of the waste from yield losses that can otherwise occur during steel processing. As less scrap is produced, the process generates correspondingly lower emissions. Another advantage of the new plant is that the condition of all plant components can be continuously monitored by a system of sensors so that maintenance can be carried out at exactly the right time. Advanced, customized maintenance means less unplanned downtime as well as more efficient production. In addition, technologies are used which 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 continuous casters while a third is being maintained.

Construction project of unprecedented scale


The new line at the IJmuiden plant is approximately 35 meters long. There is a height difference of about 12.5 meters 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 slabs produced here are eight to 12 meters long and 22.5 cm thick. An excavation pit 40 meters wide, 195 meters long and 14 meters deep was dug in the steel mill for the construction. For the foundation, 12,000 m3 of concrete were poured and around 2 million kg of steel were also processed. An entire workshop was relocated, production halls were expanded or newly built, and a supporting column in the steel mill - which was in normal operation - was moved to make room for the new facility. For the latter, Tata Steel received the Dutch 'Nationale Staalprijs 2018' award while still under construction. At peak times, up to 200 construction workers were on the job 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 top-quality steel for our customers," says Hans van den Berg, CEO of Tata Steel Netherlands. "With this plant, we will produce even stronger and more durable steel in the future. It will enable 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 plant in a steel mill that is in full operation. It really was a gigantic task!"

Source and Photo: Tata Steel in Europe

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