After the field trip 2013 to South Africa, it was planned for 2014 to visit steel plants and research locations in Europe. So for the lecture “Excursion in steelmaking” in the master study Ferrous Metallurgy, two professors, seven researchers and 21 students visited interesting places of steel research and production in Slovenia, Italy and Austria.
Actually the European steel industry is placed in a difficult surrounding; especially economically it is difficult to produce steel in competitive globalized world. Nevertheless European companies with their long tradition, with continuous development and with innovative processes & products can reach success in that global market. The plants, which we have visited during the 2-weeks trip, showed in a very modern and intelligent way, how to focus on high quality products and sustainable processes.
We started our field trip in Althofen/Austria to visit Treibacher Industrie AG. Founded in 1898 by Auer von Welsbach (inventor of the incandescent mantle and the artificial flint), Treibacher produces a wide range of chemical & metallurgical products. During the plant tour we were able to see the production of ferro-alloys, carbides, rare earth metals and catalysts as well as the R&D- department. Furthermore we had the opportunity to visit the Auer von Welsbach museum. After an evening in Klagenfurt we left Austria and visited Acroni in Jesenice, the biggest steel producer of Slovenia. Unfortunately, we also left Slovenia after several hours to reach Italy. During our tour from Udine to Verona and Milano we visited following companies:
Danieli (Udine) – global player in the construction of metallurgical plants as well as operator of a mini mill (ABS)
NLMK (Verona) & ASO (Brescia) – mini mill operators with flexible EAF-steelproduction and niche products
At the weekend we reached Milano, the second largest city of Italy, capital of Lombardia and leading metropol for art, culture and fashion. Saturday was spent for sightseeing inside of Milano with the gotic cathedrale, the castello Sforzesco, the opera Scala and the inner city. In contrast to the big city, on Sunday we visited the surrounding of Milano, first the Lake Como with the beautiful villas (visit of Villa Balbianello). Those villas were only surpassed by the amazing landscape of lake Como and the southern Alps. In the afternoon we had to possibility to visit the area of San Siro with the well-known football stadium and the famous hippodrome (a traditional horse race was performed at that day). Highlight of that day was the invitation to traditional Italian dinner by Böhler Uddeholm Italia.
The second week started with the visit of Cremona, where Acciaieria Arvedi is located. Especially the metallurgical processes of ISP (Inline Strip Production installed in 1992) and ESP (Endless Strip Production installed in 2009) were highlights of the trip. The combination of casting and rolling shows the possibilities, how metallurgy can solve the problems of the future. Next day we visited the next global player, Tenaris Dalmine, a producer of seamless and welted tubes. At this day we also visited a traditional vineyard in the area of Brescia. On the way back to Austria our last stop in Italy was at Valbruna Stainless Steel in Bolzano (stainless steel producer).
Finally we spent our last two days in the steel-capital of Austria, in Linz. There we visited the voestalpine plant (steelmaking, secondary metallurgy & casting, rolling mills and galvanizing line). Especially the dinner, an invitation of voestalpine, was used to have informative discussions between students and employees of voestalpine. During the last day we visited to global players in the construction of metallurgical plants, Ebner Industrieofenbau and Siemens VAI. Both companies presented how specific problems can be solved for the customer and how steelmaking will look in the future.
For the young metallurgists the field trip it was an interesting look into the future of Europe´s steel industry. Flexibility and high quality as well as niche products can secure the production of steel in Europe. But also the amazing culture and culinary of Italy was important for the education of an international thinking engineer.
Finally we want to thank our sponsors for their financial support as well as the visited companies for the friendly hosting and the interesting and excellent tours.