Gerdau Special Steel North America, a leading manufacturer of special bar steel, mainly used in the automotive industry, is to modernise its electric steel plant in Monroe, Michigan, USA, with a little help from Primetals Technologies of Austria. The order is part of an US$80 million investment package.

The aim of the project, according to Primetals Technologies, is to modernise the steelmaker's existing electric arc furnace and equip the plant with a new twin ladle furnace and a new material handling system.

According to Primetals Technologies, the aim is to increase the annual production capacity of the plant by 160kt of rolled end products. End-to-end automation and the use of LiquiRob robot systems will increase productivity and reliability and optimise workflows in the steel works – and let's not forget reducing operating costs. At the same time, claims Primetals, robot systems will make work safer. The ladle furnace and material handling system are scheduled to come into operation at the end of next year, while the modernised electric arc furnace will be operating by the middle of 2020.

Primetals Technologies will be responsible for the engineering and supply of process equipment for the electric arc furnace, the 110-metric-ton twin ladle furnace, the material handling system and the structural steel work. It will also supervise the construction and commissioning of all installations. The scope of delivery also includes the associated electrical installations and automation, the power supply – including transformers – and the complete, end-to-end process automation. Three LiquiRob systems will handle potentially dangerous tasks, such as taking temperatures and samples. Automatic sand refilling, a weighing system and an automated tap hole manipulator will optimise operation of the electric arc furnace.