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Value addition is the focus at Essar Steel. The Research & Development Department at Essar Steel is one of the most modern in the industry fully equipped with facilities and manpower. The sheer number of grades of steel, it manufactures only proves its versatality. The Company has so far successfully manufactured over 300 grades of steel. Today it is reckoned among the few global quality steel makers.
To ensure higher net sales revenue (NSR), Essar took the bold initiative to shift its focus from just providing steel grades for cold rolling purposes to being a major force in providing value-added steel grades for Pipes and Tubes (PAT), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders and automobiles, to name a few. Today, in the domestic market, it has a market share of 59 percent in API, 31 percent in LPG and 24 percent in automobiles, which is ample testimony to the organisation’s sincere effort to diversify its product range.
The success of its quality can be gauged from the fact that it exports over 40% of its production the most discerning markets of Europe, middle-east, south east Asia etc. The current year, the company may end up exporting 0.8 million of HR Coils valued over USD —— million. Till March this year it has exported over USD 890 million of HR Coils all over the globe. The quality of the product can further be gauged from the number of certification it has received from various international quality rating agencies like TUV Rhineland, Lloyd’s Register, American Petroleum Institute etc. In fact, it is a matter of pride for the Company that it pioneered the large scale export of steel from the country.
Technology at Essar Steel :
Based on state-of-the-art technology, the plant is designed as a modern mini-mill with a direct reduction-electric arc furnace (DR-EAF) with the configuration of 3 HBI modules using Midrex Technology (USA); 3 150 tonne EAF from Clecim, France; 2 single-strand continuous slab casters from MDH, Germany; HSM mechanicals from SMS Engineering USA; automation hardware and software of HSM from General Electric, USA.
The plant comprises :
• A 2.4 million metric tonne per annum (mmtpa) hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant.
• A 2.4 mmtpa hot rolled coil (HRC) plant.
• Downstream complex of two slitting and shearing lines of 0.4 mmtpa and a 1.2 mmtpa hot skinpass mill (HSM) demonstrates Essar’s commitment to quality and excellent customer service by ensuring superior surface finish and cuts for client-specific requirements.
Information Technology at Essar Steel
The software system comprises SAP R/3, a business tool, which seamlessly integrates the strategic initiatives and policies of the organization with the operations, thus providing an effective means of translating strategic business needs to real time planning and control. All modules of SAP, except HR module have been implemented here. For HR related activities – package software from Siemens Information Systems Limited - Payroll Administration & Management System has been implemented.
ESL collaborated with U.S. steel to prepare the best of systems to take care of core of steel making / Production planning / Scheduling / Control – This software known as IMPS has made computer integrated manufacture (CIM) to be implemented in the true sense. This takes care of integration between level II (process control) and level III (information system control) depicting real time integration between them.
The latest concept in Computer-World –"INTERNET" is being used to address business needs. Efforts are on to make SAP R/3 integrated with Internet and achieve E-business.
Following are the ways in which the state of the art Information Technology System has provided Essar Steel an edge over others:
• High degree of integration between Level-I Device Control, Level-II Process Control and Level-III Information Systems has made it possible to implement Computer Integrated Manufacturing.
For the core Steel Making the IMPS System provides for complete Metallurgical Engineering Knowledge available in the system. The system at Level-I provides the quality parameters for hot metal during liquid steel preparation. These parameters are conveyed on line to Level-III Information Systems which takes a decision automatically on the Quality Assurance and either approved grade or conveys to Level-II Process Control System, the necessary action for achieving the quality grade. This has laid to automating the Quality Assurance and Quality Control in steel making. This is a feet, which is not achieved in any Steel Plant in the World.
• At the Steel Mills we have achieved On-line Decision-Making, On-line Quality Assurance & Quality Control through integration of Level-I, Level-II and Level-III Systems. This has cut down the Quality Assurance lead time from average of 32 hours to an average of 2 hours - a saving of 30 hours which is another feat not yet achieved by any other Steel Plant in India.
Essar Steel Develops Hot DRI Technology
Essar has been laying emphasis on the reduction of cost in its operations. Among the areas identified for cost reduction was power consumption. Essar produces steel through electric arc furnace. Hence power is one of the major component in the total cost.
Earlier, the DRI was briquetted and was fed into the furnace at the room temperature. Then the possibility charging DRI in a hot condition was examined and was found to be feasible. Even though such technologies were available, they were not only expensive but did not suit our requirements. In January 1999 , efforts were initiated with full time deployment of a group of dedicated Engineers towards design, manufacture and implementation of this project.
Earlier, HBI was fed into EAF to produce liquid metal. The hot charging of DRI has not only avoided the briquetting the DRI, but also avoided the re-heating of the HBI. Since DRI is fed into EAF at a temperature of approx. 600 c as against charging HBI at room temperature, there is a considerable saving in the energy cost. Since, the technology is developed in-house by engineers at the plant, this is being patented. This has led to significant reduction of power consumption from 693 kwh/t to about 550kwh/t. In monetary terms, the reduction is about Rs. 800 per tonne.
ESSAR is thus , one amongst only a few steel producing companies in the world who practice hot DRI charging , a cutting edge technology indeed ,and all this developed in-house most economically.
1. Process re-engineering was undertaken in HBI plant as well as electric arc furnace. In HBI plant natural gas is used as a reducing agent and can be recycled. After detailed study of the process, it was found that the available gas can be better utilised if the number of reformer tubes in HBI modules could be increased leading to better reforming of gas and hence better re-cyclability. Similarly, Oxygen injection in HBI modules has resulted in increased productivity by approx.200 tonnes per module per day i.e. the HBI plant with rated name plate capacity of 1.32 mtpa ended FY99 with a production of 1.7mtpa.
2. Similarly studies were undertaken to increase heats per campaign which could result in higher productivity. As result of this study, it was found out that production capacity can be increased with certain change in the technical process. This include introduction of higher current and resetting of electrodes resulting in reduced power consumption and increase furnace availability and higher productivity. This has culminated in reduction of time by 24 minutes per heat and the total number of heats going up from 180 to 280 heats per campaign. The end result is production capacity could increase from 2 mtpa to 2.2 mtpa.
Essar Steel launches ‘24 Carat' Steel
Essar Steel, the country’s leading producer of flat steel products launched 24 Carat Steel, the first steel brand in the country. The brand, which assures the gold standards in quality and value, will mark the first professional approach in marketing steel as a brand rather then a mere commodity.
The plans for launching a steel brand were formulated after intensive research conducted by Essar Steel amongst varied audiences including customers, dealers and steel consultants. The results revealed that the most common motivator in the purchase of steel was ‘quality’. Interestingly, the interpretations of quality itself varied based on the specifications of the end users like - product quality, finish consistency of product, longevity, range and even delivery schedule. Also, there existed a need to differentiate in order to communicate the specific benefits of different steel products.
Essar 24 Carat Steel as a concept defines the core properties of Essar Steel as well as the total offering from the company in terms of product quality, standards, delivery systems and customer relationships.
Essar has focussed in developing a strong acceptance for its products in the international markets, inspite having the option of selling the entire production in the domestic markets. In fact, Essar has been the largest exporter of steel since its inception, to countries like USA, Europe, South East Asia, and Middle East among others.
Essar Steel is the market leader in many niche segments in the domestic markets. It has a market share of more than 35 per cent in cold rollers segment, 83 per cent of the domestic demand of Saw Pipes and API segment, and over 40 per cent of the LPG segment. It has also emerged as one of the leading suppliers to the railways, electrical equipment manufacturers and other sophisticated industries. Besides, on the international front too, Essar has focused on demanding and lucrative markets like oil and gas pipelines and other customised high value products.
Essar Steel Launches Web-Based Customer Relation Management
For the first time in Indian steel industry, Essar Steel has launched web-based Customer Relation Management (CRM). CRM is a powerful internet based marketing content management tool which provides a medium for the delivery and management of accurate marketing information to the customers.
The entire CRM module has been developed in-house by the Company’s IT division. CRM has been integrated with ERP software installed by the Company which would provide access to customers. The ERP software installed by the Company is the largest implemented by any steel companies in India. Essar Steel has a fully integrated computerised system for the entire business operation. The best of Information Technology systems are being used in terms of hardware, software and networking tools. Here Information Technology tool is used as a key enabler to gain efficient operation, cost cutting and competitive advantage.