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Coil Processing
Tuesday | 30 August, 2011 | 2:31 pm

Production boost

By Nick Wright

August 2011 - Within two years of contracting a partnership with Milan-based Riva Group, Italy's largest steelmaker, CMI Industry, Seraing, Belgium, delivered Europe's highest-capacity galvanizing line that is fully operational as of November 2010. The line specifically is tailored to process automotive exposed-quality steel at Riva Group's Novi Ligure facility, formerly owned by state-owned steel producer Ilva, located in northern Italy. Riva Group is the fourth largest steel producer in Europe, according to the company's website.

According to the CMI Industry's specifications, the galvanizing line can turn out 510,000 metric tons per year at 0.4 millimeters to 2.5 millimeters thick at a maximum strip width of 2 meters wide. Finished products fall within the higher ranges, particularly for automotive applications. The new line adds to the existing 400,000-metric ton yearly capacity and runs at a maximum processing speed of 180 meters per minute.

Manuel Romero, communication manager at CMI Industry, says that along with cutting costs, the line will save time and boost production. "The Ilva line has received all the latest technologies available today in terms of process control and follow-up as well as [an] in-line measurement system of end product properties," Romero says. "Its furnace heating capacity combined with patented technologies gives this line a level of production never reached."

The Ilva plant processes steel from cold rolling to final finish coating, and yearly yields total about 2.2 million metric tons of cold-rolled, galvanized, electrogalvanized, batch annealed, continuous annealed and high-yield strength dual-phase steels.

CMI not only will add capacity to the Ilva line but also feature a strip cleaning section, annealing surface, side trimmer and exit rotating shear, according to a press release. CMI's turnkey solution features the integration of mechanical properties and strip gauges, wet coating gauges, unstrapping robots at the entry section, strapping and labeling robots at the exit section, and a laser welder at the entry. The vertical entry looper has 20 strands with a movable top carriage.

Jean-Marc Kohlgruber, president of CMI Industry, notes the installation is significant because it's a testament to CMI's ability to supply its customers with high-capacity lines designed to handle the next generation of automotive steel grade demands. "We're particularly proud to have integrated on this line our first all radiant tube vertical furnace, patented rapid cooling and mathematical model focused on the automotive exposed panels," he said in a press release.

Conserving energy
CMI Industry's technology is based around a patented math model that optimizes the furnace in all levels of operation--from the heating cycle (dependent on the strip gauge) to the combustion cycle for all the burners.

"A new combustion system in the galvanizing line provides ultra-low consumption per ton," says Romero, "which provides 85 percent combustion efficiency compared to between 60 and 65 percent with conventional systems in Europe.

"The patented jet cooling system also has been optimized for minimizing the electrical consumption per ton produced while achieving high cooling rates required to reach mechanical properties with [less costly steel alloy elements]," he says.

The furnace's annealing cycle runs through full radiant tubes, reaching a heat yield of 85 percent, according to the line's specifications. CMI Industry's Blowstab jet cooler rapidly lowers steel temperatures up to 80 degrees Celsius per second, based on 1 millimeter thick strip, and is specified for advanced high-strength steel. The furnace's efficiency gains with the vertical furnace technology yield about 57 gigawatt hours or 5,000 metric tons of oil equivalent. MM

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