Swedish steelmaker SSAB has completed an investment project to modernise the entry section of its pickling line at the company's Hämeenlinna Works. The investment is claimed to support the steelmaker's growth strategy in the automotive industry and enables a higher production volume of more advanced coated strip products.

Metal-coated strip products are sold directly to customers in the automotive and construction industries, and they are also further processed into colour-coated products on the company's colour-coating lines.

“Modernisation makes the line better suited to the manufacture of high-strength steel grades for the automotive industry, for example,” said Olavi Huhtala, head of SSAB Europe.

SSAB’s investment of some SEK 370 million (USD41 million) in modernising the entry section of the pickling line at the Hämeenlinna Works included the mechanical, electrical and automation equipment as well as new electrical and automation premises, an entry section control room and scale dust removal devices.

“The new laser welding machine enables demanding steel grades used by the automotive industry to be welded more smoothly. The scalebreaker improves pickling line performance thereby making the entire process more efficient,” said Olavi Huhtala.

All products made in Hämeenlinna pass along the pickling line, where a hydrochloric acid solution removes scale and iron oxide from the steel strip surface before cold-rolling and metal-coating. SSAB successfully ran production at a normal pace during the two years of construction work, apart from some short outages.