ThyssenKrupp Ramps Up for Production in Alabama

June 15, 2010
Stainless steel operations to make wider steel available for more applications in North America.

July will mark the start-up of steel production at ThyssenKrupp's 3,500-acre site near Mobile, Ala. When fully operational, the $4.65 billion complex will process carbon and stainless steel for the North American market and employ 2,700 people.

By October, the steelmaker based in Germany is scheduled to begin cold-rolling operations at its stainless steel facility, which will initially operate at one-third capacity, says Uli Albrecht-Frueh, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA. One of the key features of the company's stainless-steel operations is a line that has been designed with the capability to provide 72-inch-wide cold-rolled steel, says Albrecht-Frueh."The wider the material the more difficult it is to deform it because you need more power, more momentum to reach a deformation," Albrecht-Frueh says.

ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA expects to start its cold-rolling line at its stainless-steel operations near Mobile, Ala., in October. The line will be capable of providing 72-inch-wide cold-rolled steel. Pictured is the plant's cold annealing and pickling line.The facility will be one of the only mills in North America with the capability of producing 72-inch steel, Albrecht-Frueh says. One of the primary customers for the 72-inch steel will be in the tank business because the wider steel requires fewer welds, Albrecht-Frueh says.

(The carbon steel facility will primarily serve the automotive, construction, and pipe and tube industries as well as service centers.)

The 72-inch steel also will offer supply chain advantages for customers in North America. Currently, 72-inch steel is imported from Europe or China by customers in the Americas, according to Albrecht-Frueh. "If you want to build a supply chain on that, you need it close by," Albrecht-Frueh says. "You can't wait three, four weeks for a shipment."

The reason, says Albrecht-Frueh, 72-inch steel hasn't been widely available in the past is because the line must be designed to accommodate such a width. "It's not enough to have one line at 72-inch-wide, you have to have lots of lines that are connected to each other designed for this width, he says.

When fully operational, the stainless steel business will employ approximately 900 workers, while the carbon steel side will house 1,800 employees. The facility's melt shop is expected to begin operations in 2012.

So far, the company has received 40,000 to 50,000 applications for open positions at the Calvert, Ala., complex.

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Former Managing Editor

Former Managing Editor Jon Katz covered leadership and strategy, tackling subjects such as lean manufacturing leadership, strategy development and deployment, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, and growth strategies. As well, he provided news and analysis of successful companies in the chemical and energy industries, including oil and gas, renewable and alternative.

Jon worked as an intern for IndustryWeek before serving as a reporter for The Morning Journal and then as an associate editor for Penton Media’s Supply Chain Technology News.

Jon received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Kent State University and is a die-hard Cleveland sports fan.

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