Russia's largest steelmaker NLMK has started the installation procedure for a new 320 tonnes/hr walking-beam reheating furnace in its hot-rolling shop in Lipetsk, Russia.

The new equipment will replace a previous generation pusher-type furnace and will add around 110kt/yr to the hot-rolling mill's output, according to NLMK.

More sophisticated technology, the company claims, will also improve product quality and reduce energy consumption by 50%, cutting emissions by half in this specific area of the plant.

NLMK is investing heavily in the project.

"The construction of the reheating furnace is one of the key projects of NLMK's investment programme," said NLMK's managing director Sergey Filatov. "The equipment upgrade is aimed, among other things, at the development of the sales portfolio through product quality improvement. The start-up of the unit will not only increase NLMK's rolled products output, but also enable a complete transition to a high performance resource-saving technology intended for reheating slabs before rolling".

According to NLMK, the furnace update is a brownfield project that is being implemented while the hot-rolling mill in question is operational. Construction began last July and at present, foundation work has been completed and slab transport mechanisms have been installed. Right now the furnace shell is being installed and the plan is to complete the upgrade in September this year. Operations will begin in October.

Between 2004 and 2011, new generation furnaces were installed at the Lipetsk hot rolling mill, said NLMK. The new furnace represents the fourth consecutive piece of equipment at the mill and its launch means that the last obsolete reheating furnace will be decomissioned.

NLMK claims that, for the first time, the full cycle of BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology was used for the furnace design and the organisation of construction and assembly works. The company believes that the technology enabled the creation of a so-called 'digital twin' of the future unit at the design stage, which mimicked the construction process and eliminated possible errors in advance and optimise the volumes and schedule of construction works.