Members of Big River Steel had the opportunity to tour SMS group’s manufacturing plant in Hilchenbach, Germany during a visit in late May, company officials said Wednesday.
SMS group, headquartered in Dusseldorf, is the global steelmaking manufacturer tasked with producing the machinery that will comprise Big River’s $1.3 billion flex mill in Mississippi County.
The mill will begin production in 2016, quickly focusing on the most demanding steel grades including advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) and ultimately fully-finished silicon steels in later growth phases.
At the SMS Hilchenbach facility, representatives of Big River were treated to a full tour, as well as a program called “Plug and Work” that dramatically reduces lead times via realistic production simulation tools.
SMS engineers took steel production simulation to new heights with a fully-automated system featuring functional control consoles, computers and software so that all components can be tested before production begins.
Big River Steel team members were able to see the very first coil of steel being made by their equipment package – via simulation of course, officials said.
The trip to Germany continued with an in-depth look at many of the necessary equipment components that will begin their journey to Arkansas.
The advanced steelmaking equipment from SMS will include a 150-ton electric arc furnace, CSP (compact strip production) plant, strip processing plant, cold-roll mill, batch annealer, galvanizer and several other metallurgical systems.
This unique equipment package is the first of its kind and was developed specifically to produce a full range of high-strength, lightweight steels, wide and thick steels, and electrical steels for key niche markets, including:
- Energy: Steels used in oil and gas drilling and transmission.
- Power: Steels used in electrical generation, transmission and consumption.
- Transportation: Steels used to reduce weight while maintaining strength, including AHSS.