Voestalpine starts up new special steel plant

On Wednesday, voestalpine celebrated the opening of the state-of-the-art special steel plant in Kapfenberg, Austria, the first of its type to be newly built in Europe in four decades.

According to the company, the plant is the world’s most advanced in terms of digitalisation and sustainability. It says it marks a technological milestone of pioneering high-performance materials for the automotive, energy, and aerospace industries. It meets the most advanced Industry 4.0 standards, with around 8,000 process data which are continuously acquired, implemented, and evaluated in parallel, voestalpine says.

All the melting processes are directed from a central control station, Kallanish understands. The employees are given the necessary training in robotics, sensors, and data analysis at the company’s own digitalisation competence centre. Also, a new campus for 60 apprentices will be built at the site to ensure future apprentice training. Construction work began in summer 2023, and completion is scheduled for fall 2025.

Until the certification process is complete, the plant will operate in test mode, in parallel with the old plant. It will become fully operational during the business year 2023/24, with the capacity to produce 205,000 tonnes/year of special steels for highly sophisticated customer segments.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2018. The investment amounts to around €467 million ($493m). As already reported, the difficult business environment during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as difficulties in the delivery of key equipment, resulted in an increase of the originally planned investment of €350m.

Christian Koehl Germany