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Tata adding VIM to grow global footprint

Oct 21, 2013 | 08:31 PM | Jo Isenberg-O’Loughlin

Tags  Tata Steel, vacuum induction melter, VIM, Stocksbridge, SMS Mevac, high-purity steel, Richard Lowe, Chris McCarthy aerospace metals

NEW YORK — Tata Steel Ltd. plans to install a $25-million vacuum induction melting (VIM) furnace at its Stocksbridge specialty steels operation in South Yorkshire, England, in order to push deeper into the worldwide aerospace, oil and gas, and bearings markets for high-purity steels.

Mumbai, India-based Tata sees the addition of the VIM as an essential step toward consolidating its position as a key supplier of ultra-clean steels. The steelmaker’s Stocksbridge operation currently supplies "small quantities" of VIM-derived steel using ingots sourced from third parties. Adding the vacuum induction melter to the production facilities there is expected to greatly increase the scope for VIM sales, expanding Tata’s product portfolio into areas where it currently is not a factor.

Essen, Germany-based steelmaking equipment supplier SMS Mevac GmbH has been contracted to provide the furnace, with commissioning expected in early 2015.

"Existing producers of VIM-derived products don’t all focus solely on steel," said Richard Lowe, general manager for specialty steels sales for Tata Steel in North America. "As the specialty steels operation at Stocksbridge will be using the new VIM facility purely to produce steel products at this time, customers can expect consistency of policy and supply throughout the cycle."

Lowe said that by locating the VIM in the United Kingdom, Tata’s Specialty Steels group could integrate its output with the existing asset base at Stocksbridge, which is equipped with remelt capability as well as rolling and finishing facilities. "This means that Tata Specialty Steels has the ability to ship fully tested and accredited steel either direct or via its depots wherever it is required throughout the world," he said.

"Customers for VIM-derived steels demand choice, and Tata Steel has the global reach to support them wherever they may choose to manufacture their products," Chris McCarthy, director of Americas for Tata, said.

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