SMS Group commissioned for Big River phase two

Following on from the success of its phase one development, USA-based Big River Steel has commissioned German plant builder SMS group to supply mechanical equipment, electrical and automation systems and digitalisation expertise for phase two expansion of the Osceola, Arkansas steel plant.

According to SMS group, since commissioning the new mill back in 2017, Big River Steel has been busy producing high-quality steels, including tube grade sheet for pipeline construction, silicon steels for a wide variety of energy and electric motor applications, and advanced high strength steels for the US automotive industry.

Expansion of the Osceola site will increase the plant’s annual output to about 3Mt of steel.

Once phase two expansion is completed, the plant will have two electric arc furnaces and two twin-ladle furnaces. An additional gas cleaning system, claims SMS group, will ensure compliance with strict environmental legislation. A second tunnel furnace and a further downcoiler will be added to the CSP plant, which produces up to 1,930mm wide coils, making it one of the widest in the world. The hot coil produced in the CSP plant is processed into high-grade cold strip in the downstream-coupled pickling line/tandem cold mill. There will also be an additional coiler for the plant’s continuous galvanising line (CGL).

SMS group will supply mechanical equipment for all the newly installed plants in addition to the X-Pact electrical and automation systems, including level 3.

The SMS group company MET/Con’s product quality analyser (PQA) will also play an important role in the development of Big River’s phase two development as it will form the central module of the process automation system. The PQA monitors, documents and assures the product quality down to the finished cold strip along the complete production process. “It uses stored rules defined on the basis of expert knowledge to assess coil quality in a semi-automatic procedure and, based on these assessments, takes ‘ship’ or ‘block’ decisions for the downstream processing of the strip or its dispatch,” SMS group explained.

According to SMS group, the system sends instructions for action to the operators while production continues in order to make them aware of any onset of irregularities within the production process and suggest countermeasures to be taken. “This allows the operators to predictively intervene in the process before an incident becomes a problem, dramatically reducing the occurrence of failures along the production process which otherwise might have resulted in poor quality and downtimes,” SMS group explained, adding that, in the long run, the system provides higher yield while increasing the product quality.

SMS group’s technical service operation, which includes spare part management services, plays a central role in the BRS expansion project.

David Stickler, CEO of Big River Steel, commented: “I have purchased several technologically advanced steel production facilities from SMS over the past 20 years and I am fully confident that SMS group will again deliver a high quality mill that sets the standard in terms of product capability, energy efficiency and environmentally sustainability.”

At SMS group, Burkhard Dahmen, chairman of the managing board, said that SMS group had worked very closely with management and staff of BRS. “We have succeeded in digitalising a highly complex steel plant in a way that meets the targets of stable and resource-saving production,” he said. “We are very pleased about Big River Steel’s decision to also award us the order for the next expansion stage of the steel plant and to continue on the proven successful way with SMS group as their partner.”