While at the huge construction site in the USA the new steelworks was taking up concrete shape, a delegation of representatives of the plant operator, investors and future customers of Big River Steel already produced the works' first steel during a visit to the SMS group in Germany - admittedly as part of a plant simulation.
In the SMS group test center, experts of the SMS group had set up major components of the automation systems, complete with fully functional control cabinets, computers, control desks and the steelworks' software. This allowed them to thoroughly test these components in near-reality simulations and to train the operators well ahead of the installation on site. This innovative procedure - which the SMS group calls Plug & Work - later on markedly reduced the time to start of production. Daniel J. Murray, Board Member of Big River Steel, was impressed:
"It is most fascinating to experience the functions and capabilities of our new steelworks right at this present moment. We are now even more convinced that this modern works will set new standards in the USA"
Besides the test center, the delegation also visited the SMS group's manufacturing facilities in Hilchenbach, where the quality-critical components for this large-scale project were being manufactured. Giant, high-precision mill housings, coilers laid out for winding tons of steel strip, the modern laser welding machine designed for joining steel strips of latest grades prior to being processed in continuous lines, etc. - the delegation members had the opportunity to inspect a great many plant components all of which were shortly be commencing their journey to the new steelworks of Big River Steel in Arkansas, USA.