Choose a different country or region to see content for your location
Light theme
Light theme
Magazine6 Min

Jumbo section mills today and in future

In recent years, the demand for rolled steel sections has shifted to heavier products with greater thicknesses, higher yield strength, and increased toughness in combination with improved fabrication properties such as weldability. In view of these demands, we have developed technologies and equipment that enable the reliable and cost-efficient production of steel sections.

Rolling so-called jumbo beams that are up to 140 mm thick and weigh up to 1,377 kg per meter requires the use of extremely large beam blanks as feedstock. The past practice of rolling from slabs is less reliable and requires many passes in the breakdown stand, resulting in temperature losses, limited productivity, and unfavorable yield. In recent decades, however, the possibility of continuously casting ultra large and heavy beam blanks has become a reality. 

The use of beam blanks for rolling large and heavy beams has brought about a change in the rolling technology used in the breakdown stand, meaning fewer passes, stable product quality, and increased yield. At the same time, it was also possible to reduce the size of the breakdown mill and the drive power (compared with the use of slabs).

The rolling mill equipment needs to be more rigid to accommodate much higher loads. Reversing tandem mill stands require larger roll diameters, higher horizontal and vertical roll separating forces, as well as more drive power. Since jumbo beam mills typically also produce the standard range of beams and other products such as sheet piles, the CCS®-type mill stand (Compact Cartridge Stand) is designed to accommodate different roll sets with varying diameters and barrel lengths. This feature allows the use of existing and new rolls for modernization projects like that at Nucor Yamato Steel, or the use of a range of roll diameters that suit the different products within the product mix.

Despite the use of heavy beam blanks, the rolled stock can only be reduced to a limited extent in the rolling mill. In addition, since the yield strength decreases as the thickness increases, the beams must be thermally treated. To achieve the required mechanical properties, such as high yield strength, improved toughness (at low temperatures) and good weldability, in-line thermal treatment is essential, since normalizing rolling routes are unable to achieve these mechanical properties for the finished products.

Thermo-mechanical beam rolling, selective flange cooling as well as quenching and self-tempering (QST) processes for beams were developed and introduced back in the 1990s. Thermo-mechanical rolling is used for thinner beams, QST for thick-flange beams, while selective flange cooling is used for both applications. Hence, the economical production of beams with increased tensile properties, excellent toughness, improved weldability and low operating costs and the reduced cost for alloying elements in steelmaking is now possible. 

SMS group’s design of such in-line treatment facilities is distinguished by its flexibility for use with the entire product range recipes for different beams and grades, generated using a so-called BeamCool® process model, however without the need to change equipment for varying beam sizes. Due to the thickness of the flanges and web, it is not possible to cut the jumbo beams to length in cold conditions or straighten them by roller straightening. Indeed, despite the fact that SMS group built the world’s largest CRS® straightening machine for the heavy section mill at Masteel in China, the jumbos still need to be gag pressed.

Hot sawing is required for cut-to-length operations. The hot saws are distinguished by large saw blade diameters and high drive power.

In the last five years, SMS group has built a heavy section mill for jumbo beams in China, and another is under construction in North Africa. In addition, two heavy section mills were revamped in the USA and Korea. This underlines the increasing demand for these products.

CRS® straightening machine
Typical quenching module that can be applied to the entire beam program.

Combining integrated services is the key to plant efficiency

By pooling our expertise, we can offer customized plant optimization systems and holistic system solutions that enable plant operators to make accurate predictions about production processes, product quality and plant condition based on machine learning. We combine all competencies from the areas of electrics/automation, digitalization and technical service in order to maintain and expand the performance of customers’ plants over their entire lifecycle. Working with customers, we develop integrated solutions that are specifically tailored to their requirements, focusing on key performance indicators such as plant availability, product quality, productivity, delivery reliability, and sustainability.

By combining integrated services with performance-oriented business models, SMS group is a long-term partner for its customers and helps them  to concentrate on their core competencies.

Electrical and automation systems

Our X-Pact® modular electrical and automation packages are especially designed to meet the process requirements of jumbo section mills and ensure that all plant components complement each other perfectly.

As part of the X-Pact® product family, the next-generation Technological Control System enables process control in real time and optimized product dimensions. Alongside the proven, well-known functions such as Hydraulic Gap Control (HGC) and Automatic Gauge Control (AGC), the X-Pact® Minimum Tension Control (MTC) ensures minimal tension on the material between the stands, and the X-Pact® Screw Down Optimizer shortens the adjusting time of the AGC cylinders between runs.

The automation systems are developed and tested in the test centers in Mönchengladbach. The combination of the optimized control systems and process technologies enables efficiently controlled production.

SMS group implements its vast technological experience in X-Pact® products, solutions and functions for long products and so provides an excellent basis for digital applications.

Digital commissioning of the automation system at the X-Pact® Plug & Work test center in Mönchengladbach, Germany
Detailed information on the water pressure in one cooling module

Digital solutions enable a high degree of plant autonomy

SMS group develops innovative solutions for the digital transformation age and Industry 4.0. Benefiting from state-of-the-art development methods, our software solutions for asset optimization, product quality, production, planning, energy, and sustainability management as well as infrastructure solutions actively contribute to saving money, increasing profitability, and conserving resources.

Technical service guarantees a successful plant lifecycle

As a lifecycle partner, SMS group supports its customers for the entire lifespan of their plants. If spare parts, modernizations, customized maintenance measures, or individual training programs are required, experts are available at more than 50 locations worldwide to offer service packages that are tailored to individual needs and cover the whole metallurgical process chain. SMS group benefits from its combined expertise to provide exactly the services needed on time, on budget, and in the right quality. With tailor-made services, SMS group ensures that downtimes are reduced, productivity is increased, and the plant is optimally equipped to cope with changing industrial conditions in the future. 

SMS group email service

Our promise to you: this is not just another newsletter!

More insights by topic

Show all

Let's get in touch!