Today, for megaprojects on the scale of H2 Green Steel or thyssenkrupp Steel, we apply the same approach as for all of our customer orders: “Project First”. Once we win an order, we put together an international team for the project that is responsible for integrated time scheduling and resource planning as well as for the smooth execution of all project phases – from the start, right through to commissioning. At SMS, handling a project for a customer is like running a business for a limited period, where the project manager functions like a CEO.
To be the very best partner for our customers' investments, we established our Center of Excellence Implementation in 2022. Bundling our competencies in this way enables us to implement the most sophisticated projects, where we provide the engineering, procurement and construction, all from a single source. This EPC project expertise is a key advantage for us in the market.
To bring the way we collaborate internationally to the next level, we recently completed a digital transformation of our internal processes. The goal is to achieve a harmonized way of working throughout SMS, with uniform systems and processes in a common language. The harmonization of our data and process structures will make us faster, more efficient and more transparent, and will also make international collaboration easier.
Our “Project First” approach stood up against a number of unforeseeable challenges during one of our latest major supplies. In 2019, we received an order from US-based Steel Dynamics, Inc. (SDI) for a next-generation flat steel complex consisting of an electric steel mill, a casting and rolling line, pickling/tandem mill, off-line Skin Pass Mill and strip processing lines. The term “megaproject” was well earned given the sheer scale of this greenfield location – a site spanning 10,5 km², 22,500 tons of structural beams needed for buildings, and almost 400,000 m3 of concrete poured – resulting in an steel complex with the capacity to produce 2.7 million metric tons of flat steel per year. For our team, a total of 330 SMS employees, representing 21 different nationalities, were needed on-site over a two-year period, with many of them re-locating with their families in long-term accommodations.
Outside of the scale, however, the required equipment and management of their installation were in line with previous orders, and did not raise any immediate concerns or challenges as the construction kicked-off. This, however, changed completely only a few short months later, as the global COVID-19 pandemic became a central barrier across all aspects of the project – from supply chain lines, to on-site working restrictions, to the challenges of getting international workers in and out of the US during travel closures, and ongoing economic uncertainties. In spite of all of this, along with a hurricane or two during the course of the project, our team was able to maintain a project plan and ensure continuity in the progress of installation. SMS employees completed 150,000 working hours during the project, without any reported incidents, realizing our requirements in this state-of-the-art megaproject to completion.