Product flow rolls back on track at TK’s Calvert plant

Jan 18, 2013 | 05:58 PM | Jo Isenberg

Tags  ThyssenKrupp, steel, Calvert, rail, technology, Profibus, Siemens

Things didn’t exactly go swimmingly along the banks of the Tombigbee River at Calvert, Ala., where the ownership of a multi-billion-dollar carbon steel plant built by ThyssenKrupp AG some 40 miles north of Mobile is about to change.

By May 2012, less than two years after the Essen, Germany-based metals, materials, engineering and manufacturing firm opened the doors of the 4.3-million-tonne-per-year plant, ThyssenKrupp (TK) was reviewing strategic options relating to its steel portfolio and the future of the Calvert facility and a sister plant built in Rio de Janeiro to supply slab to the American mill. The company is now entertaining bids for the plant from domestic as well as foreign mills.

For all the reversals, some things went right at Calvert, where a full-court press by Siemens AG and one of its solutions providers untangled one of the more frustrating—and costly—snarls in product flow through the facility.

The Calvert plant—which is equipped with a hot-strip mill, cold-rolling mill, four hot-dip galvanizing lines, a rail yard and a river terminal to access the Port of Mobile and Gulf of Mexico—produces cold-rolled steel in coils weighing up to 14 tonnes. When in operation, high-speed rail cars moving at speeds up to 33 miles per hour transported the coils through two underground tunnels, each measuring almost 500 feet long, to any of eight separate drop points. The coils were then lifted by crane off the rail cars and into other plant facilities for further processing or shipment to customers in the auto, construction, pipe, tube, and appliance/HVAC industries.....

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