SSAB has awarded SMS group the contract to modernise a continuous pickling line entry section at its Hämeenlinna plant in Finland. According to SMS group, the modernisation will 'significantly increase the line's availability and its output as well as the degree of automation and safety'.

Heikki Nisula, general manager, maintenance and investments at SSAB Europe, Hämeenlinna, Finland, said that the reason behind the modernisation was to make the line fit for future and upcoming challenges, adding that the new equipment will ensure that the company can process materials with yield points of up to 900 megapascals. "Higher capacity at lower operating costs will be a further benefit," Heikki said.

According to SMS group, one of the key elements of the modernisation plan is the X-Pro laser welder with solid state laser. "Contrary to a conventional carbon dioxide laser, the laser beam here is generated in a resonator by means of a laser-active fibre," claims the company, adding that operating costs will decrease by up to 90%, thanks to high efficiency and good controllability.

The end result of the modernisation will be that SSAB can produce modern, high-strength steel grades with high alloy contents.

The plant's two-phase modernisation will be completed by the end of 2018.